Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

World War 2 poetry

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

Tags:
  1. wm.

    wm. Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2016
    Messages:
    951
    Likes Received:
    72
    Location:
    Silesia Inferior
    There is another prayer written in exile around 1942 by Julian Tuwim. It reached very quickly the occupied Poland and, some say became the anthem of the Polish resistance movement. I'm not sure it's entirely true, but most of those people certainly fought not only the Germans, but for a better Poland too.

    A Prayer
    Kindle the clouds into a glare, and
    Strike at our hearts with a bell of gold,
    Open our Poland as with a bolt
    You clear up the overcast heavens.
    Allow us to rid our fathers’ home
    Of our cinders, and holy ruins:
    Let our house be poor but also clean,
    Our house, raised from the cemetery.
    To the land, when it stirs from the dead,
    And is gilded by freedom’s luster,
    Give the rule of wise and righteous men,
    Mighty in wisdom and in goodness.
    And when the people rise to their feet,
    Let them raise their veiny, calloused fists:
    Give the toilers ownership, the fruit
    Of their labor in villages and
    Cities. Chase away the bankers, Lord,
    Stop the growth of money from money.
    Let the vain be armed with humbleness,
    To the humble give an angry pride.
    Teach us that under Your sunny sky
    ‘There is no more Greek and no more Jew.’
    Knock the stupid crown from the heads of
    Puffed up men and the supercilious.
    And set up the skull of a dead man
    On the desk of a growling ruler.
    Strike with your bolt when in glory’s name
    A haughty man seizes his weapon,
    Do not permit an unjust sword to
    Have for a handle the cross of Your
    Agony. Let good will be done, of
    Noble hearts which grew up in defeat
    Give us back the bread of Polish fields,
    Return the coffins of Polish pine,
    But above all give our words, altered
    Craftily by wheelers and dealers,
    Their uniqueness and their truthfulness:
    Let the law always denote law, and
    Let justice mean nothing but justice.
    Let more of Your name resound in deeds
    Of men than in their song; take away
    The gift of dreaming from the stupid,
    Realize the dreams of noble men.
    Cause us to bless the conflagration
    That destroyed our property, if it
    Proves to be a purifying fire
    For our souls touched with decay.
    Any Size of Poland—let her have greatness:
    To the sons of her spirit or her
    Body give a greatness of hearts if
    She’s great, and a greatness of hearts
    If she’s small. Wedged between the German
    Barbarian and the new nation of
    A hundred nations—give a friendly
    Frontier on the east, an eternal
    Abyss on the west. Tear off the cross
    Your hands that bleed, together with nails,
    And cover, cover Your eyes with them
    When the time of vengeance draws near us,
    Give us leave to break Your commandment,
    When we wade toward Warsaw across
    The Tatra Mountains of dead Germans,
    The Baltic of enemy’s damned blood.
     
  2. wm.

    wm. Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2016
    Messages:
    951
    Likes Received:
    72
    Location:
    Silesia Inferior
    And there is his well known Mother:

    I
    At the cemetery in Łódź
    The Jewish cemetery, stands
    The Polish grave of my mother,
    My Jewish mother’s tomb.
    The grave of my Mother, the Pole,
    Of my Mother the Jewess;
    I brought her from land over Vistula
    To the bank of industrial Łódź.
    A rock fell on the tombstone,
    Upon the face of the pale rock
    A few laurel leaves
    Shed by a birch tree.
    And when a sunny breeze
    Plays with them a golden game,
    The leaves are patterned into
    The Order of Polonia.
    II
    A fascist shot my mother
    When she was thinking of me;
    A fascist shot my mother
    When she was longing for me.
    He loaded—killed the longing,
    Again began to load,
    So that later... but later
    There was nothing left to kill.
    He shot through my mother’s world:
    Two tender syllables;
    Threw the corpse out the window
    Upon the holy pavement.
    Remember well, little daughter!
    Recall this, future grandson!
    The word has come true:
    ‘The ideal reached the pavement’
    I took her from the field of glory,
    Returned to mother earth...
    But the corpse of my name
    Still lies buried there.
     
  3. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Brighton, UK
    Thank you for the further explanation of the poem. Interesting.

    The question of 'second generation war poetry' connects to the question of who is qualified to write war poetry? Does one have to directly experience conflict to be qualified to write 'war poetry'.....sometimes this is classified as 'combat gnosticism' ! Unfortunately this view is particularly prevalent in World War 1 poetry circles.

    Personally I reject such an approach. It's like saying that Shelley's magnificent 'Mask of Anarchy' is somehow invalid because he was not present at the Peterloo Massacre. I agree if Shelley had written an article for a newspaper claiming to be an eyewitness at Peterloo when he clearly wasn't, then adverse criticism would be justified, but he didn't. He used his imagination and wrote a poem.

    The study of World War 2 poetry is currently less rigid,certainly in Europe, because it is realised that civilians could be very much caught up in the War. But originally initiatives such as the Salamander Oasis Trust , who started publishing in 1943, would only publish poems from those who served in uniform during World War 2.
    http://salamanderoasis.org/about/








     
  4. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Brighton, UK
    And thank you for the two poems by Julian Tuwim. A quick websearch suggest that he was in exile from Poland for the duration of World War 2 , but if people who experienced the German occupation found meaning in his work, than that is sufficient tribute.
     
  5. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Brighton, UK
    Have been watching this documentary about Keith Douglas ( 'Keith Douglas Battlefield Poet') , presented by poet Owen Sheers, and first screened in 2010.
    Owen Sheers, born some 30 years after Keith Douglas' death in action in Normandy 1944, presents this so well, with real enthusiasm . Outlines how the work of Isaac Rosenberg from World War 1 was a particular influence, and interviews individuals who knew and sometimes served with Keith Douglas during the Desert War and the Normandy Campaign.


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5yTX0eWW6s&t=572s
     
    Otto likes this.
  6. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Brighton, UK
    I have been thinking a lot recently about how little attention is paid to World War 2 poetry in Britain. One conclusion I've reached is that the education system here totally neglects this genre, and what is needed is to try and raise its profile within secondary schools, colleges and university. No idea how the can be done at this stage, but advice welcome.
    Would also like to hear from members of this forum generally and hear if they were taught about World War 2 poetry in their respective countries and which poets were featured. Feel free to send me a PM or add to this thread. Thank you.
     
  7. wm.

    wm. Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2016
    Messages:
    951
    Likes Received:
    72
    Location:
    Silesia Inferior
    As an ignorant on the matter, I can only say the video was very relaxing and soothing - mainly because of its intense Britishness. :)


    This is what they use in Polish schools, written by Krzysztof Baczyński, as usual by a poet of Jewish origin, and as usual it's the occupation:

    *Elegy on . . . (a Polish boy)
    They kept you, little son, from dreams like trembling butterflies,
    they wove you, little son, in dark red blood two mournful eyes,
    they painted landscapes with the yellow stitch of conflagrations,
    they decorated all with hangmen’s trees the flowing oceans.
    They taught you, little son, to know by heart your land of birth
    as you were carving out with tears of iron its many paths.
    They reared you in the darkness and fed you on terror’s bread;
    you traveled gropingly that shamefulest of human roads.
    And then you left, my lovely son, with your black gun at midnight,
    and felt the evil prickling in the sound of each new minute.
    Before you fell, over the land you raised your hand in blessing.
    Was it a bullet killed you, son, or was it your heart bursting?
    March 20, 1944
     
    MichaelBully likes this.
  8. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Brighton, UK
    That's great wm. Appreciated.
    I have found a couple more of Krzysztof Baczynski 's poems in English here.

    http://www.sppw1944.org/index.html?http://www.sppw1944.org/poezja/poezja_baczynski_eng.html

    I will try and get hold of the bi-lingual 'White Magic and Other Poems' edition of his works, translated by Bill Johnston, but the price starts at £192.00 on Amazon UK, so might try the National Poetry Library in London .

    The US publisher page on 'White Magic and Other Poems' is here

    http://www.greeninteger.com/book.cfm?CFID=525360&CFTOKEN=95080577&BookID=137
     
  9. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Brighton, UK
    Currently working on a blog post about Yevgeny Yevtushenko's poem 'Babi Yar' commemorating the massacre of 33,771 Jews outside Kiev on September 29 1941.
    The Babi Yar ravine was to continue as the site of a series of massacres instigated by German invaders against a range of enemies; The Babi Yar Memorial Centre puts the number of dead at 120,000 ( http://babiyar.org/history.html).

    Wondering if it must be one of the most important poems written about World War 2, due to Shostakovich setting the poem into music to open his 13th symphony, completed in 1962.

    Found this 'You Tube' clip of Yetushenko reading the poem out in English. As there are different translations and even a different version of the poem edited by the poet himself , take that this is the English version that Yevtushenko himself endorsed, and includes extracts from Shostakovich's 13th symphony.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJEGrgdGzPE
     
    Otto likes this.
  10. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Brighton, UK
    Have now updated the World War 2 poetry blog to feature Yevgeny Yevtushenko's poem 'Babi Yar' and Shostakovich's 13th Symphony.

    [SIZE=11pt]http://worldwar2poetry.blogspot.co.uk/[/SIZE]

    There is another poem about Babi Yar titled 'The Ravine' by Mykola Bazhan, most likely written in 1943. There is a site here that compares three Ukranian to English translations, need to scroll down to get the English versions.

    http://polyhymnion.org/lit/bazhan/
     
  11. wm.

    wm. Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2016
    Messages:
    951
    Likes Received:
    72
    Location:
    Silesia Inferior
    You wrote there "civilians of Roma" shouldn't it be the Romani, i.e. Gypsies?

    Mykola Bazhan was quite famous (nominated for a Nobel Prize in literature in 1970), and a Soviet V.I.P. - a member of the Central Committee of the CPSU.
     
  12. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Brighton, UK
    Thanks for your feedback, the " civilians of Roma..' -and the rest of the line is a quote, from the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Centre, will edit the post. Not an expression I would use.
     
  13. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Brighton, UK
    Have managed to get hold of 'Holocaust Poetry- complied and introduction by Hilda Schiff' from 1995. One poet published therein that has made an impression on me is Tadeusz Borowski , who survived Auschwitz but took his own life in 1951.

    Here is 'Night over Birkenau' , translated from the original Polish by A.Z. Foreman

    Again the night. Again the fearsome sky
    Gyres like a vulture, like a beast of prey
    It crouches on the camp, on the dead quiet.
    Pale as a corpse, the moon sets far away.

    And like a shield cast to the ground in battle,

    Amid the stars Azure Orion lies.
    On through the dark the transports' motors rattle.

    Then the gleam in the crematoria's eyes

    Scalding and stifling. Slumber like a stone.
    Breath is choked out. The throat is slit and red.
    The heavy boot pressed down on the breast-bone
    Cracks like the silence of three million dead.

    Night, endless night, and no light overland.
    The eyes are gassed with slumber, numb the brow.
    Here as God's Judgment on the world of man
    The murking fog comes down on Birkenau


    http://poemsintranslation.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/tadeusz-borowski-night-over-birkenau.html
     
  14. wm.

    wm. Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2016
    Messages:
    951
    Likes Received:
    72
    Location:
    Silesia Inferior
    I can't say anything worth listening about these poems - for the usual reasons, but if someone "needs" depression badly should try his short stories tilted This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen.
     
  15. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Brighton, UK
    Yes, I have heard about This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen . Will try and get a copy. As for 'needing 'depression, induced by reading World War 2 poetry, and a general interest in World War 2, I think that this is worth a separate threat. At one point we as historians decide that we have to keep some sort of distance from our subject, after learning about so much suffering, is very important. Not just World War 2, I remember attending a talk on conflict archaeology where this issue was raised by a field archaeologist working on the Western Front excavating a World War 1 mass burial.


     
  16. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Brighton, UK
    I have updated the World War 2 poetry blog to include a review of John Guzlowski's collection 'Echoes of Tattered Tongues' ; poems and short prose about the writer's parents' experiences as Polish slave labourers for the Third Reich, and their subsequent lives in the USA.

    A recent interview I conducted with John Guzlowski will appear on line in the near future.

    WorldWar2poetry

    Thought would add Keith Douglas 1943 poem 'Desert Flowers', which refers to World War 1 poet Isaac Rosenberg , killed in action 1st April 1918. It is possible to start a debate concerning how important Rosenberg's work was in inspiring Douglas, but personally I find Keith Douglas' sense of his own fate more interesting. The coin being placed under the tongue of the deceased was a fabled Ancient Greek practise.


    Desert Flowers - Poem by Keith Douglas

    "Living in a wide landscape are the flowers -
    Rosenberg I only repeat what you were saying -
    the shell and the hawk every hour
    are slaying men and jerboas, slaying

    the mind: but the body can fill
    the hungry flowers and the dogs who cry words
    at nights, the most hostile things of all.
    But that is not news. Each time the night discards

    draperies on the eyes and leaves the mind awake
    I look each side of the door of sleep
    for the little coin it will take
    to buy the secret I shall not keep.

    I see men as trees suffering
    or confound the detail and the horizon.
    Lay the coin on my tongue and I will sing
    of what the others never set eyes on."

    Further analysis of the poem can be found here

    Poem of the week: Desert Flowers by Keith Douglas
     
  17. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Brighton, UK
    UPDATE Yevgeny Yevtushenko passed away on 1st April 2017. 'The Guardian' 's tribute to him was headlined 'Yevgeny Yevtushenko , Russian poet who memorialised Babi Yar dies aged 84'


    " Yevtushenko gained notoriety in the former Soviet Union while in his 20s, with poetry denouncing Joseph Stalin. He gained international acclaim as a young revolutionary with Babi Yar, an unflinching 1961 poem that told of the slaughter of nearly 34,000 Jews by the Nazis and denounced the antisemitism that had spread throughout the Soviet Union.

    Until Babi Yar was published, the history of the massacre was shrouded in the fog of the cold war.

    “I don’t call it political poetry,” Yevtushenko, who had been splitting his time between Oklahoma and Moscow, said during a 2007 interview with the Associated Press at his home in Tulsa. “I call it human rights poetry; the poetry which defends human conscience as the greatest spiritual value.”

    Yevtushenko said he wrote the poem after visiting the site of the mass killings in Kiev, Ukraine, and searching for something memorializing what happened there – a sign, a tombstone, some kind of historical marker – but finding nothing.

    “I was so shocked,” he said. “I was absolutely shocked when I saw it, that people didn’t keep a memory about it.”

    It took him two hours to write the poem that begins: “No monument stands over Babi Yar. A drop sheer as a crude gravestone. I am afraid.”

    Full article

    Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Russian poet who memorialised Babi Yar, dies aged 84


     
  18. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Brighton, UK
    Have established an online archive of my war poetry research 2014-2017 -http://worldwarpoetry.com/.

    The World War 2 category is here World War 2 – World War Poetry


    First part of my interview with John Guzlowski , and his poetry about his parents' lives as Polish slave labourers under German occupation, then as post-War Displaced Persons, then 'Polack' immigrants to the USA appears here:

    The World Is A Broken Place- Interview with John Guzlowski part one – World War Poetry

    Finally, will end with a poem by J.F.Hendry -A Letter To The Moon'. Have to admit that not a favourite poem of mine . Hendry was born in Glasgow in 1912, and during World War 2 was one of the founders of the 'New Apocalpyse' movement, sometimes called 'New Romantics'.


    " A Letter To The Moon

    love dances under mountains
    where never the waves fall

    her arms are columns of memory

    o spell this wilful liberty
    for sailors clad in weed

    how can she ever be proud?

    tell these tears like beads
    for airmen bridling the sky

    their faces are broken cloud

    and bind up the branches of slaughter
    for soldiers in shackles of water

    whose scythe flows over history ?

    whole armies march under seas’
    crumpled up horizon

    my eyes are drowned in dice

    a whirlwind strikes owls freeze
    swords fall out of the sun

    “who’ll carves the rose from the ice?”

    in a helmet plumed with fountains
    the hero shouts in the hall ”

    J.F. Hendry , (Cadet , Intelligence Corps)
    ‘More Poems from the Forces
    A Collection of Verses By Serving Members of the Navy, Army and Air Force
    Edited by Keidrych Rhys , published 1943
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2017
  19. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Brighton, UK
    Have just been looking at Keidrych Rhys own poetry - an excellent collection is 'The Van Pool: Collected Poems' edited by Charles Mundye , published by 'Seren' , 2012.
    'The Van Pool and Other Poems' was first published in 1942. The 'Collected Poems' reprints the whole of 'The Van Pool.....with several other published poems and some previously unpublished work.

    Rhys served in the London Welsh Regiment as anti-aircraft gunner after being called up in 1940.

    Interesting feature on Keidrych Rhys here.
    The Van Pool: The Collected Poems of Keidrych Rhys
     
    Martin Bull likes this.
  20. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2016
    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Brighton, UK
    Pleased to announce that website updated with 'The World is a Broken Place part 2' -my interview with John Guzlowski and his poetry reflecting his parents' experience as Polish slave labourers under German occupation, and as immigrants to the USA: Worldwarpoetry.com
     

Share This Page