General Question

rancid's avatar

Do you know any warriors who have become poets?

Asked by rancid (214 points ) March 20th, 2009

I think warriors have a special view on life. I think it cause them to think about the importance of thier work, and of the impact they have in life. If they turn to poetry, it seems they have made a transition. Maybe given up one view of life, for another. I would like to know if there are any of such poets, and what they are like. What do you think of them, also?

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21 Answers

Blondesjon's avatar

Like a rotten log
half buried in the ground –
my life, which
has not flowered, comes
to this sad end.

Minamoto Yorimasa

TitsMcGhee's avatar

Drummer Hodge is a great poem dealing with war, though I don’t think Thomas Hardy, the author, was a soldier himsef.

Magnus's avatar

I guess you could say Sun Tzu was a poet.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Henry VIII wrote poetry. And he fought in France.

galileogirl's avatar

Dulce et Decorum Est
by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,

Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs

And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots

But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;

Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling

And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…

Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,

He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace

Behind the wagon that we flung him in,

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,

His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,

Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est

Pro patria mori.

SeventhSense's avatar

Soul Brother
(A poem dedicated to Thor)
————————————————————————————————————————

The wind howls through the trees above
My blood begins to race
The lightning ripples from up high
And my heart picks up the chase
Distant chariot from Thrudheim’s halls
Ripping through the sky
Mighty red-haired Thurses Bane
The Thunderer passes by

Hail to thee oh fire eyed one
Your glory I embrace
Asgard warder, friend to man
Oh mightiest of Ase
He who taught that in this life
There is never a defeat
For the hearty, brave, stout soul
That refuses to retreat

Discipline, Courage, Honor, and Troth
Words which he knows well
Persevering until Vigrid Plain
When the Wurm your life dispels
But even in death, fear has no hold
And victory is at hand
For the coward dies a thousand deaths
But the hero will always stand
In the hearts and minds of all his kin
His brave deeds will be forever sung
For the soul that remains unbroken
Can never be undone

Hail to thee oh fire eyed one
Your glory I embrace
Mjolnir wielder, friend to man
Oh mightiest of Ase
And in the hearts and minds of all Rig’s kin
Your brave deeds will be forever sung
For your will remains unbroken
And can never be undone

Written by Jon Erik Serhus, Vingolf Fellowship.

galileogirl's avatar

W. D. Ehrhart
Guerrilla War
It’s practically impossible
to tell civilians
from the Viet Cong.

Nobody wears uniforms.
They all talk
the same language
(and you couldn’t understand them
even if they didn’t).

They tape grenades
inside their clothes,
and carry satchel charges
in their market baskets.

Even their women fight.
And young boys.
And girls.

It’s practically impossible
to tell civilians
from the Viet Cong.

After awhile,
you quit trying.

galileogirl's avatar

Kill Me A Son
Capt Gregory Robert Samuels (ret) Iraq War vet

God looked down and said
Kill me a son
But when one son was dead
The killing wasn’t done

The killing went on
And more sons came
Some said it was wrong
But more were still slain

Why did we make war?
To that place in the East
WMDs for sure
The devil’s had his feast

galileogirl's avatar

Isn’t it interesting that most poets who glorify war are bystanders and noncombatants while soldier/poets generally present a completely different viewpoint?

Blondesjon's avatar

@galileogirldid you just contrast and compare?

Jeruba's avatar

Rupert Brooke.

*The Soldier *
by Rupert Brooke

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
.
.

[Edit] Ah, well, he was never actually in combat. Still, there’s the poem for you.

galileogirl's avatar

@Blondesjon My real world must be leaking into the sea. I’ve just spent a couple of hours grading contrast and compare historical essays. Maybe I should go back to the “Does this mean he likes me” questions. LOL

Jeruba's avatar

Naming of Parts

“Vixi duellis nuper idoneus
Et militavi non sine glori”

Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
And today we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easily
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For today we have naming of parts.

—Henry Reed

(He was in World War II.)

asmonet's avatar

Damn it. Everyone took mine.

gailcalled's avatar

@asmonet; check out S. Sassoon. I am too busy.

asmonet's avatar

Thanks!

gailcalled's avatar

“Suicide in the Trenches” is a 1918 poem by the English soldier and poet Siegfried Sassoon :

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

gailcalled's avatar

More Sassoon:

14. Does it Matter?

DOES it matter?—losing your legs?...
For people will always be kind,
And you need not show that you mind
When the others come in after hunting
To gobble their muffins and eggs. 5

Does it matter?—losing your sight?...
There’s such splendid work for the blind;
And people will always be kind,
As you sit on the terrace remembering
And turning your face to the light. 10

Do they matter?—those dreams from the pit?...
You can drink and forget and be glad,
And people won’t say that you’re mad;
For they’ll know you’ve fought for your country
And no one will worry a bit.

gailcalled's avatar

And this particularly bitter one; (Sassoon was in WWI)

11. Base Details

IF I were fierce, and bald, and short of breath,
I’d live with scarlet Majors at the Base,
And speed glum heroes up the line to death.
You’d see me with my puffy petulant face,
Guzzling and gulping in the best hotel,
Reading the Roll of Honour. ‘Poor young chap,’
I’d say—‘I used to know his father well;
Yes, we’ve lost heavily in this last scrap.’
And when the war is done and youth stone dead,
I’d toddle safely home and die—in bed.

gailcalled's avatar

To read about the shell-shocked Sassoon in a mental institution during WWI (plus some inof about both W. Owens and Rob’t Bridges) Pat Barker’s Regeneration is the one to choose.

The author, who is a woman, deliberately used the ambiguous first name of Pat. There are two more books in the trilogy.

gailcalled's avatar

And the last one;a famous sonnet and known by anyone who flies small planes or frequents flying schools or small airports.

John Gillespie Magee, Junior (June 9, 1922 – December 11, 1941) was an Anglo-American aviator and poet who died as a result of a mid-air collision over Lincolnshire during World War II. He was serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force, which he joined before the United States officially entered the war. He is undoubtedly most famous for his poem High Flight. Source

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor even eagle flew—
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

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