Saturday, 20 February 2016

Edward Shanks (1892 - 1953)

Edward Buxton Shanks was born in Stoke Newington, London in 1892. His parents were Edward Shanks and his wife Isabella Tarn, nee Buxton.

Educated at Merchant Taylors School, Edward went on to study at Trinity College, Cambridge.
He Joined the 8th South Lancashire Regiment in 1914.  Invalided out in 1915, he had a desk job for the remainder of the war.  He was known as a war poet of the First World War.

Edward Shanks’ WW1 poetry collections were:
Poems’, Sigwick & Jackson, 1916

‘The Queen of China and other poems’, Martin Secker, 1919
‘Songs (poems)’, The Poetry Bookshop, 1915
And his poems were included in six WW1 Anthologies, as well as being published in magazines and newspapers during WW1.

IX. On Account of Ill Health

You go, brave friends, and I am cast to stay behind,

 To read with frowning eyes and discontented mind

 The shining history that you are gone to make,

 To sleep with working brain, to dream and to awake

 Into another day of most ignoble peace,

 To drowse, to read, to smoke, to pray that war may cease.

 The spring is coming on, and with the spring you go

 In countries where strange scents on the April breezes blow;

 You'll see the primroses marched down into the mud,

 You'll see the hawthorn-tree wear crimson flowers of blood

 And I shall walk about, as I did walk of old,

 Where the laburnum trails its chains of useless gold,

 I'll break a branch of may, I'll pick a violet

 And see the new-born flowers that soldiers must forget,

 I'll love, I'll laugh, I'll dream and write undying songs

 But with your regiment my marching soul belongs.

 Men that have marched with me and men that I have led

 Shall know and feel the things that I have only read,

 Shall know what thing it is to sleep beneath the skies

 And to expect their death what time the sun shall rise.

 Men that have marched with me shall march to peace again,

 Bringing for plunder home glad memories of pain,

 Of toils endured and done, of terrors quite brought under,

 And all the world shall be their plaything and their wonder.

 Then in that new-born world, unfriendly and estranged,

 I shall be quite alone, I shall be left unchanged.

From ‘Poems’, dedicated to J.C. Stobart, published by Sidgwick & Jackson, 1916

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