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World War 2 poetry

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by MichaelBully, Nov 9, 2016.

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  1. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

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    Thanks Paul, have messaged you and would be interested to read other poems that he wrote . Hope that you will share more of his work here. Regards
     
  2. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    There was and is the published war poetry by servicemen who happened to be professional poets (Keith Douglas, Randall Jarrell, Gavin Ewart, etc). Then there was the popular, anonymous war poetry created during the conflict by soldiers, airmen, and sailors who were not professional poets. The latter was largely unprinted during the war because much of it was unprintable, if you know what I mean, but it nonetheless reflected the attitudes of the servicemen pretty accurately. That being said, I hope the mod will forgive my quoting the following in the interests of history.

    These are from the RAF, found in Gavin Lyall's The War in the Air.

    WE ARE THE HEAVY BOMBERS
    "We are the heavy bombers, we try to do our bit;
    We fly through concentrations of flak and cloud and shit;
    And when we dump our cargoes we do not give a damn;
    The bombs may miss the goods-yard but they fuck up poor old Hamm.

    And when in adverse weather the winds are all to hell,
    The navigator's balled up, the wireless balled as well,
    We think of all the popsies we've known in days gone by
    And curse the silly fuckers who taught us how to fly.

    They sent us out to Egypt, a very pleasant land
    Where miles and miles of sweet fuck-all are covered up with sand.
    And when we got to Cairo, the girls were heard to say
    'There ain't no hope for us dears, Thirty-seven's come to stay.'"

    AIN'T THE AIR FORCE FUCKING AWFUL?
    "We had been flying all day long at a hundred fucking feet,
    The weather fucking awful, fucking rain and fucking sleet.
    The compass it was swinging fucking south and fucking north,
    But we made a fucking landfall in the Firth of Fucking Forth.

    CHORUS: Ain't the Air Force fucking awful, ain't the Air Force fucking awful?
    We made a fucking landfall in the Firth of fucking Forth.

    Now we joined the fucking Air Force 'cause we thought it fucking right,
    But don't care if we fucking fly or fucking fight,
    But what we do object to are those fucking ops room twats,
    Who sit there sewing stripes on at a rate of fucking knots."

    I also like this little jingle, from the desert:

    EIGHTH ARMY SONG, 1942
    "Why don't we grease our nipples today,
    So we can run faster when we run away?"

    The finest of all, however, is American, from Paul Fussell's Wartime. I think it is the perfect expression of how every serviceman felt at times when he realized that he was trapped by the army, trapped by the war, trapped by vast forces of fate which did not give a damn for him.

    THE GREAT FUCKING WHEEL
    "Round and 'round went the Great Fucking Wheel,
    In and out went the great Prick of Steel,
    Balls of brass, all loaded with cream,
    And the whole mechanism was driven by steam!"
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
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  3. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

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    Fabulous ! Thanks very much for sharing. Indeed should explore some of the lesser known A few years ago there was an anthology edited by John Sadler & Rosie Serdiville titled 'Tommy Rot- WWI Poetry They Didn't Let You Read' so perhaps there needs to be a WW2 equivalent.
     
  4. wm.

    wm. Active Member

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    That's right, it's explained in detail here and here.
    One interesting thing, the poem was an inspiration for the move Sewer, which is really a good movie despite being made during the communist era.

    The Soviets were unwilling to help, blocked Western offers of military aid, and the fighters were hunted like rabid dogs by them later. In similar circumstances and at the same time Stalin lost 100,000 of his soldiers trying to support the similarity doomed Slovak National Uprising.


    I think you are right. I hoped they were writing more "humane" poetry too - expressing doubts, desperation, fear or whatever else. But now I see that was stupid. The Nazi ideology despised any human weakness so it was very unlikely. All they poems are probably political and/or bombastic.
     
  5. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

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    Thank you for the information on the movie 'Sewer'. ....need to check it out.
    Regarding WW2 poets who fought on the German side, have covered Peter Huchel and hope to upload my post on Johannes Bobrowski any day now. I accept that young German men during the Third Reich could rarely avoid being conscripted But if they used their skills as poets to justify and even praise the regime, that is going beyond what is required to survive and their work can remain in obscurity as far as I am concerned.
    Regards

    [QUOTE="wm. ( snip)

    I think you are right. I hoped they were writing more "humane" poetry too - expressing doubts, desperation, fear or whatever else. But now I see that was stupid. The Nazi ideology despised any human weakness so it was very unlikely. All they poems are probably political and/or bombastic.[/QUOTE]
     
  6. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

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    World War 2 poetry blog has been updated featuring the work of Johannes Bobrowski , who fought for Germany on the Eastern Front, later to become a celebrated poet in the DDR.

    ***************extract*******************************

    One poem where humans activity is a central theme is 'Kaunas 1941' commemorating the killing of Jews by pro-German Lithuanian nationalists, who murdered their victims with iron bars and shovels whilst their supporters cheered them on. The style even then seems understated compared with the horror of the event.





    Kaunas 1941





    " Noisily

    the murderers pass the gate.we walk

    softly, in musty air, in the tracks of wolves.

    At evening we looked out

    over a stony valley. The hawk

    swept round the broad dome

    We saw the old town, house after house

    running down to the river.





    Will you walk over

    the hill? The grey processions

    -old men and sometimes boys-

    die there. They walk up the slope ahead of the slavering wolves."


    If Bobrowski is a serving soldier and observer, he reports the scene with a distinct detachment,at one point asking the question "Did my eyes avoid yours brother" The poem ends with the cryptic line 'My dark has already come' . Perhaps Bobrowski's work has been neglected in Britain as so many people wish to read war poetry as some sort of eye witness account...."


    Worldwar2poetry.blogspotco.uk
     

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