Thursday, 28 March 2019

Cloudesley Shovell Henry Brereton (1863 – 1937) – British writer and poet

Cloudesley Shovell Henry Brereton was born in Norfolk in 1863.  He was baptised on 10th January 1864.   His parents were Henry Shovell Brereton and his wife, Emma Brereton, nee White. The family home was Briningham House, Melton Constable, Norfolk.

Cloudesley studied at Cambridge University and gained an MA, before going to study in Paris and Lille.  He then became a teacher: and taught at Perse School, Cambridge 1886 – 1887, Heath Grammer School Halifax, Yorkshire, 1888 – 1890, Clergy Orphan’s School, Canterbury 1891 – 1893, Queen Elizabeth’s College, Guernsey 1893 – 1895. He was a Temporary School Inspector with the Irish Intermediate Board  from 1901 until 1903 and then Divisional School Inspector with the London County Council from 1905 until 1928.  In 1901 Cloudesley published a book entitled “The Educational Crisis in England”.  In 1914, Cloudesley published “Who Is Responsible? Armageddon and After!"

On 12th November 1904 in St. Paul’s Cambridge, Cloudesley married Maud Aedline Horobin, nee Ford, a widow - see

Cloudesley retired to Briningham House in Norfolk and became a farmer before his death in 1937.

A prolific writer who published several books, Cloudesley’s WW1 poetry collections were “The Norfolk Recruit’s Farewell: a ballad” (Jarrold, Norwich, 1917) and  “Mystica et Lyrica” by Cloudesley Brereton (Elkin Mathews, London, 1919).  Some of the poems from “Mystica et Lyrica”:


ON GOING TO THE WAR  To Henry Newbolt

THE busy thoughts that issued bright
From smithies of my brain,
Still serve as weapons in the fight,
Though I myself be slain.
The love I laid up in your breast
Knows neither moth nor rust,
But bears an ample interest,
Though I myself be dust.
And that dear soul, wherein we trace
Our common love, will learn
With you the duties of his race,
Though I no more return.
And so, unto the worst inured,
I go where thousands go,
My love and hope alike secured,
To pay the debt I owe.

12th JULY 1918

To M. Lucien Poincare

HAIL, gracious land, where North and South keep tryst,
Where rivalling sea and land have met and kissed ;
O temperate land, whose people temperate
Seem born between mankind to mediate,
Frank, sympathetic, hospitable and free
Like thy broad valleys winding to the sea ;
Yet in their souls as fierce a fire doth burn
As that beneath thy central core, Auvergne ;
O land where freedom sows her deathless seeds,
Where clear-eyed vision leads men straight to deeds ;
Torch-bearer of the Arts whose steady light
Through the dark Ages lit our western night ;
Skilled in the lore alike of war and peace,
Mistress of all the charms of ancient Greece,
Steeped in the statecraft of Imperial Rome,
To every race a second land and home,
Who gladly reverence thy hegemony
That seeks to make them free as thou art free.

To the Dowager Lady Hastings

THE tall trees fan themselves in the heat,
There is not a cloud in the sky:
No sound is heard save the drowsy beat
Of the gnats’ winged revelry.
The very air seems drugged with sleep,
And afar through its shimmering net
The shadowy hill-tops flicker and peep,
In a moving picture set.
The deer take sanctuary in the shade,
Or deep in the water stand.
Beneath the sun’s fierce fusillade,
(I I) The Park is a No-man’s-land.
The rose-trees languish under the drought,
The tired creeper sags ;
Alone the irises hold out
Amid the drooping flags.
The old house doses away in the blaze
In its solitude, silent and stern,
And dreams of the glories of by-gone days
And the race that will never return.


DEATH SCENE : A Battle-field Cemetery
To Fabian Ware, Director-General of Graves Registration


THE ground seems rocking under my feet,
It breaks in a thousand waves.


Old man ! you stand on the shores of a plain
That is scored with a thousand graves.


Oh ! what is it makes that the tranquil earth
Like an ocean thus swells and heaves ?


The tide of battle swirled over the spot,
And these are the furrows it leaves.
And every furrow holds fast a man,
And the myriads rotting there,
If one could call them again to life,
Would replenish a hemisphere.
But their lights are quenched, and the ground they drenched
With their spendthrift blood may bear
A more plenteous crop of darnel and dock
To blow o’er their lonely lair.


O liar of liars ! Infamous Death !
Their bodies lie fast in your hold,
But the hearts that have felt the passionate beat
Of their hearts can never grow cold.
By the inner light you cannot quench,
I know as sure as I breathe,
They have left us the best in themselves, which we
In turn to our sons may bequeath.
Here is an epoch garnered up,
That on the vacant land
Another may spring — but the seed is the same,
Though sown by a fairer hand.
What lies buried here is the grief and the fear
And the tangled tares of hate,
These are the things that men lay on your bier,
But not their immortal state.

ODE TO FRANCE To his Excellency M. Paul Cambon 

OH FRANCE, the dauntless, the indomitable,
Mighty in victory, mightier in defeat,
As when thy soldiers in that stern retreat
From Maubeuge, Lille, and Argonne turned and fell
Upon the presumptuous foe and thrust him back pell-mell.

Or when, by internecine fever torn
And enemies without encompassed,
Like a sick woman rising from thy bed
Thou ledst thy sons to Vahny, on whose morn
Amid thy thundering guns Europe anew was born.

Hail land where thought, not impulse, action guides,
Where though men prize their nation as a whole,
They deem of boundless worth the humblest soul,
Where strength with weakness, not with strength, takes sides,
And Reason rules the folk, but Mercy’s word decides.

And yet ’tis not thy Rhone, Garonne or Seine,
Thy central peaks, thy Vosges or Pyrenees,
Or enfilading Alps or circling seas,
Or vine-clad valleys or broad Northern plain
That wrought in thee this singleness of heart and brain.

’Tis not thy clear-toned speech, although its spread
Has lent its puissant aid in one to weld
Thy divers races :—’tis the faith long held
In common, perils shared by those who bled
To found this sure communion of the quick and dead.

Hail greatest commune in the community
Of nations, central mart and meeting place
Of all who care for Wisdom, Truth and Grace,
Hail Parthenon of Justice, Liberty
And Brotherhood, to whom all suffering peoples cry.

And now thy long-drawn agony is o’er,
From Dunkerque’s dunes to Verdun’s rolling downs,
High o’er thy ransom’d fields and martyred towns
Free as the heavens floats thy tricolour,
While Peace doth to thy arms long-lost Alsace restore.

To thee all Nations, whether small or great,
Now turn their gaze, for from thy fruitful breast
Shall come, O brooding Mother of the West,
A world-wide peace, that our triumvirate,
America, France, England shall perpetuate.

Source:  Catherine Wl. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) and Find my Past

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Edmund John (1883 –1917) – British poet

Edmund was born in Woolwich, Kent on 27th November 1883. He fought in the First World War, serving with the 28th (London) Battalion (Artist's Rifles) and was invalided out of the Army in 1916.
Edmund died a year later in Taormina, Sicily on 28th February 1917.

Edmund’s poetry collections were:

“The Flute of Sardonyx: Poems” (1913)
“The Wind in the Temple: Poems” (1915)
“Symphonie Symbolique”(1919)

“The Wind in the Temple: Poems” by Edmund Johyn was published by Erskine Macdonald, London in 1915 and was printed by W. Mate & Sons, Ltd., Bournemouth.  It is available as a down-load on Archive:

That collection of poems was dedicated to the writer and poet

POEMS OF THE WAR pp 51 – 53

1. The Huns. 1914

2. Ave Indi

3. In Memoriam

THE HUNS, 1914

Only the bent ghosts of pain, the grey phantoms of fear
Inhabit the desolate streets in the silence, and peer
Out from the charred, blackened windows. No more than the breath
Of the fresh fields shall stir the drawn lips of the dead whose blood dyes
Their own hearths, where from out the spent ashes dim spirals yet rise
Like the smoke of dark incense that burns on the Altars of Death.

All the prayers are stilled ; there is blood in the holy place.
And over the lintels, and splashed on the pale, lined old face
Of the dead peasant woman who lies where the hollyhock blows.
And blood on the breasts of the maiden who yesterday smiled.
And blood on the white broken body of each flower-like child.
Like red wme that is spilled on a petal of some fallen rose.

And blood there shall be on the throats of the devilish throng.
And an eye for an eye, and for every unnameable wrong
Anguish and death and despair shall find out a reward.
Lo, the clamour of battle is calling to all who are men
To succour the helpless, and vanquish and drive to their den
The murdering Huns who have drawn and shall die by the sword.

(p. 51)


The West is grey, and pale with sweat of pain,
Save where the flicker of a funeral pyre
Stabs the dull pallor with fine jets of fire.
And ashen cheeks are grim with some dark stain.

Gold is the East, and bright the Indian sea ;
And princes of a race that knows no fears
Pour out their treasures of a thousand years,
And call to battle all their chivalry.

For lo, at last the East and West have met,
In splendid friendship sealed by splendid blood ;
So shall they conquer death and stem the flood
That seethes from hell — and heaven shall not forget !

For every tortured child, and all the shame
Of women slain, the Indian hosts shall bring
Bitter reward ; and through God's halls shall ring
Their mighty vengeance and eternal fame.

(p. 52)


(To Field-Marshal Lord Roberts of Kandahar, obiit November, 1914)

Rest, though the clamorous surge of war
Follow thy peace to the great doors of Death ;
As in thy fearless life, so now, the cannons' roar.
The roll of drums, at thy last breath

Proclaim thee Conqueror !
The prophets and the warriors who have passed
That way before thy coming, welcome thee ;

The Angel's trumpet sounds a nobler blast,
And kings and knights of the old chivalry
Now hail thee at the last.

Thy days, thy deeds, thy words of proven gold.
Thy son, and last of all, thyself didst give
For Country's sake ; and now the tale is told
Thy splendid memory shall breathe and live
Till all men's hearts lie cold.

Here is a review from “The Southport Guardian," of September l0th, 1913 about “The Flute of Sardonyx”

“Mr. Edmund John is one of our new singers. His first book
on its first appearance made a great stir. ..." The Flute of
Sardonyx " contains much of performance and even more of
promise. . . . He has a rare sense of colour and a strong sense
of words ; his verse pulsates with passion and with life. With
him to live is to love ; and to love is alternately to smile and
to sorrow — and he expresses the joy and the pain with equal
feUcity and fervour. . . . Here in these poems is the spirit of
song, the passion of youth, the seductive colour of life, and all
the throbbings of hope and desire . . . this book will ensure
a critical welcome to Mr. John's future work. Here, at any
rate, is a singer — and a singer who is not afraid to sing his own
songs in his own way.”

Sigourney Thayer (1896 – 1944) - American theatrical producer, World War I aviator, and poet.

Sigourney was born on 24th March 1896 in Southborough, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA.  His parents were The Reverend William Greenough Thayer (1863 – 1934) , headmaster of St. Mark's School from 1894–1930, and his wife, Violet Thayer, nee Otis. Sigourney’s siblings were:
Violet Otis Parker; William Greenough Thayer, Jr.; James Appleton Thayer; Robert Helyer Thayer, who became a lawyer, naval officer and diplomat, Margaret Suydam; and Major John Otis Thayer, O.B.E.

During the First World War, Sigourney enlisted in June 1916 and first served on the American-Mexican border.   He then served as a  Lieutenant and pilot in the 1st Operations Group.

In later life, Sigourney became an executive at Vultee Aircraft.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Sigourney became a theatrical producer. He produced "ast Night of Don Juan: The Pilgrimage" (1925), "Beau-Strings" (1926), "Damn the Tears" (1927), "Bridal Wise" (1932), and "Keeper of the Keys" (1933).

In December 1928, Sigourney married Emily O'Neill (née Davies) Vanderbilt (1903–1935) of Manhattan (who had divorced William Henry Vanderbilt III earlier that year. Emily was the daughter of Frederick Martin Davies, granddaughter of Daniel O'Neill, owner of the Pittsburgh Dispatch newspaper, and the great niece of Frederick Townsend Martin, a prominent writer of the 1920s.Their marriage lasted less than a year.

In April 1931, Sigourney married Mary "Molly" Van Rensselaer Cogswell (1902–1983), daughter of Cullen Van Rensselaer Cogswell of Manhattan, and great granddaughter of General John Cullen Van Rensselaer. The couple had a daughter. Mary worked as a columnist for the “New York Journal”, using the pen-name "Madame Flutterby".  She wrote the first biography of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, which was published by Doubleday in 1961.

Sigourney died on 2nd November 1944 in a car accident in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and is buried in Southborough Rural Cemetery, Southborough, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA – Grave reference: Section 1B, Lot T
Memorial ID: 18081510

Sigourney wrote regular poetry for the magazine “Atlantic Monthly”, and his poem, "The Dead" was published in numerous WW1 poetry anthologies.

“The Dead”

I feared the lonely dead, so old were they, --
Decrepit, tired beings, ghastly white,
With withered breasts and eyes devoid of sight,
Forever mute beneath the sodden clay;
I feared the lonely dead, and turned away
From thoughts of sombre death and endless night;
Thus, through the dismal hours I longed for light
To drive my utter hopelessness away.

But now my nights are filled with flowered dreams
Of singing warriors, beautiful and young;
Strong men and boys within whose eyes there gleams
The triumph song of worlds unknown, unsung;
Grim death has vanished, leaving in its stead
The shining glory of the living dead.

Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978)

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Francis Bourdillon (1852 – 1921) – British Poet and Translator

Francis William Bourdillon was born in Runcorn, Cheshire on 22nd March 1852.  His father was the Reverend Francis Bourdillon, an Anglican Church priest, and his mother was Sophie Bourdillon, nee Holland.  In 1861 The Rev. Bourdillon was Rector of Woolbeding Church in Sussex.   Francis had two brothers – Gerard, b. 1854 and Bernard K., b. 1856.

Educated at Haileybury and Winchester Colleges, Francis went on to study at Oxford University.  He became private tutor to the children of Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein.

Francis married Agnes Watson Smyth in 1882 and the couple had three children. Francis and his family retired to Sussex where he died in 1921.

Perhaps his most famous poem is "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes":

The night has a thousand eyes,
 And the day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
 With the dying sun.

The mind has a thousand eyes,    
 And the heart but one;
Yet the light of a whole life dies
 When love is done.

From: Edmund Clarence Stedman, Editor (1833–1908).  “A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895” (Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1895)

Francis Bourdillon’s WW1 poetry collections were:

“Christmas Roses and Other Poems for Nineteen hundred and Fourteen” (Humphreys, London, 1914)

“Easter Lilies and Other Poems for Nineteen Hundred and Fifteen” (Humphreys, London, 1915)

“Russia Re-born and Other Poems” (Humphreys, London, 1917)


“A Hymn of Hope for the League of Nations” (S.P.C.K., London, 1919).

Francis had poems published in sixteen WW1 poetry anthologies.

“Here: and There September, 1914”


Soft benediction of September sun;
Voices of children, laughing as they run;
Green English lawns, bright flowers and butterflies;
And over all the blue embracing skies.


Tumult and roaring of the incessant gun;
Dead men and dying, trenches lost and won;
Blood, mud, and havoc, bugles, shoutings, cries;
And over all the blue embracing skies.

 F. W. Bourdillon.

From J. W. Cunliffe, Editor “Poems of the Great War” (The Macmillan Company, New York, 1916)

Francis William Bourdillon featured in the Poets of Merseyside exhibiton at The Wilfred Owen Story, Birkenhead, Wirral, UK.  There is a book of the exhibition – “Merseyside Poets, Writers & Artists of The First World War”, available from

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Edmund John (1883 – 1917 ) – British poet

Edmund Arthur Cyril John was born in Woolwich, Kent, UK on 27th November 1883.  According to his military record,  Edmund joined the 28th (London) Battalion (Artist's Rifles) in 1915.

He was invalided out of the Army in 1916 and died a year later in Taormina, Sicily on 28th February 1917.

Edmund’s poems were published in  " The English Review," " The British Review," " Colour," " The Gypsy," and  ' The Anthology of Trees."

His WW1 poems were published within his collection “The Wind in the Temple: Poems” (Erskine Macdonald, London, 1915) pp. 51 - 53:


1. The Huns. 1914   2. Ave Indi  3. In Memoriam

THE HUNS, 1914

Only the bent ghosts of pain, the grey phantoms of fear
Inhabit the desolate streets in the silence, and peer
Out from the charred, blackened windows. No more than the breath
Of the fresh fields shall stir the drawn lips of the dead whose blood dyes
Their own hearths, where from out the spent ashes dim spirals yet rise
Like the smoke of dark incense that burns on the Altars of Death.

All the prayers are stilled ; there is blood in the holy place.
And over the lintels, and splashed on the pale, lined old face
Of the dead peasant woman who lies where the hollyhock blows.
And blood on the breasts of the maiden who yesterday smiled.
And blood on the white broken body of each flower-like child.
Like red wme that is spilled on a petal of some fallen rose.

And blood there shall be on the throats of the devilish throng.
And an eye for an eye, and for every unnameable wrong
Anguish and death and despair shall find out a reward.
Lo, the clamour of battle is calling to all who are men
To succour the helpless, and vanquish and drive to their den
The murdering Huns who have drawn and shall die by the sword.


The West is grey, and pale with sweat of pain,
Save where the flicker of a funeral pyre
Stabs the dull pallor with fine jets of fire.
And ashen cheeks are grim with some dark stain.

Gold is the East, and bright the Indian sea ;
And princes of a race that knows no fears
Pour out their treasures of a thousand years,
And call to battle all their chivalry.

For lo, at last the East and West have met,
In splendid friendship sealed by splendid blood ;
So shall they conquer death and stem the flood
That seethes from hell — and heaven shall not forget !

For every tortured child, and all the shame
Of women slain, the Indian hosts shall bring
Bitter reward ; and through God's halls shall ring
Their mighty vengeance and eternal fame.

IN MEMORIAM  (To Field-Marshal Lord Roberts of Kandahar, obiit November, 1914)

Rest, though the clamorous surge of war
Follow thy peace to the great doors of Death ;
As in thy fearless life, so now, the cannons' roar.
The roll of drums, at thy last breath
Proclaim thee Conqueror !

The prophets and the warriors who have passed
That way before thy coming, welcome thee ;
The Angel's trumpet sounds a nobler blast,
And kings and knights of the old chivalry
Now hail thee at the last.

Thy days, thy deeds, thy words of proven gold.
Thy son, and last of all, thyself didst give
For Country's sake ; and now the tale is told
Thy splendid memory shall breathe and live
Till all men's hearts lie cold.


Karl Stamm (1890 - 1919) - Swiss Poet

Karl Stamm was born on 29th March 1890 in Wädenswil, Canton of Zurich, the sixth of nine children. His father came from Schaffhausen and ran a china shop.  Karl lost his mother and his favourite brother at an early age - the deaths overshadowed his childhood and later influenced and inspired his poems.

At an early age, Karl demonstrated an aptitude for drawing and writing. He completed a teachers training course at the teacher training college in Küsnacht in 1906. There he met Eduard Gubler, who went on to achieve fame as an artist. From 1910 to 1914 Karl worked as a primary school teacher in Lipperschwändi, Bauma before moving to Zurich in 1914.

When war broke out in 1914, Karl was called up to military service and served in the Swiss Army at the Swiss border. His initial patriotic enthusiasm later gave way to deep sympathy for the suffering of those involved in the conflict. After suffering a nervous breakdown and spending a long time in hospital, he was discharged from military service in 1917. Karl died in Zurich on 21st March 1919 of the Spanish flu.

Photo:  Karl Stamm, 2nd from left, on a trip organised during his time at the teacher training college in Küsnacht. To his left is Karl’s friend Eduard Gubler – photographer unknown.

Portrait of Karl Stamm by Eduard Gubler.

“Schlachtfeld” (Tr. Battlefield) by Karl Stamm

Schollenmürbe schläfert ein das Eisen
Blute filzen Sickerflecke
Roste krumen
Fleische schleimen

Saugen brünstet um Zerfallen.

First published in "Der Sturm", Nr. 19/20, 1/ 2 January1915

"Der Sturm" (Tr. The Storm) was a German art and literary magazine published between 1910 and 1932

Works by Stamm:

Der Aufbruch des Herzens by Karl Stamm( Book )

12 editions published between 1919 and 1925 in German and English and held by 51 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Dichtungen by Karl Stamm( Book )

6 editions published in 1920 in German and Undetermined and held by 36 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Aus dem Tornister by Karl Stamm( Book )

6 editions published in 1915 in German and held by 27 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Dichtungen : Gesamtausgabe by Karl Stamm( Book )

5 editions published in 1920 in German and held by 26 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Das hohelied : lyrische Dichtung by Karl Stamm( Book )

4 editions published between 1913 and 1918 in German and held by 24 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Die Kinder im Schlaraffenland by Hans Witzig( Book )

14 editions published between 1917 and 1960 in German and Undetermined and held by 17 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Briefe by Karl Stamm( Book )

5 editions published in 1931 in German and held by 13 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Lieder nach Gedichten von Karl Stamm, für eine Singstimme mit Klavierbegleitung by Walter Schulthess( )

3 editions published in 1967 in German and held by 12 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Briefe von Karl Stamm by Karl Stamm( Book )

2 editions published in 1931 in German and held by 9 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Karl Stamm by Karl Stamm( Book )

3 editions published between 1940 and 1942 in German and held by 7 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Geoffrey Dearmer LVO (1893 –1996) - British poet

Geoffrey Dearmer was born in Lambeth in London, UK on 21st March 1893.  His parents were Anglican Church priest, liturgist and hymnologist, Percy Dearmer  who became Canon at Westminster Abbey, and and his wife, Mabel Dearmer, nee Pritchard White, who was a writer and artist.  Geoffrey had a brother -  Christopher – who was born in 1894.

The Dearmer family were friends with Kathleen Scott, the sculptor and widow of Robert Falcon Scott (known as Con), the Antarctic explorer.  Geoffrey wrote poems to Kathleen and they used to go dancing together.  When war broke out in 1914, both the Dearmer boys were studying at Christ Church College, Oxford University.  They volunteered and Geoffrey was commissioned and served with the London Regiment at Gallipoli and on the Western Front during The Somme Offensive. Christopher became a pilot with Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and died of wounds received while serving in Gallipoli in 1915. Geoffrey was appointed a Lieutenant in the Royal Victorian Order (LVO).

In 1915, the boys’ father Percy Dearmer volunteered as a Red Cross Chaplain and he and his wife went to Serbia, joining the Third Serbian Relief Unit. Mabel served as a nursing orderly.  Mabel contracted enteric fever (typhoid) in June, and died on 11th July 1915. Her letters were posthumously published as “Letters from a field hospital. With a memoir of the author by Stephen Gwynn”.  See

From 1936-1958 Geoffrey was Examiner of Plays in the Lord Chamberlain's office.  In 1936, Geoffrey married Margaret Proctor and they had one daughter.

Geoffrey died on 18th August 1996 in Birchington, Kent, at the age of 103.

Geoffrey’s WW1 poetry collections were “The Day’s Delight: Poems” (Murray, 1923) and “Poems” (Heinemann, 1918).  His poems were published in nine WW1 poetry anthologies.

In 1997, The Geoffrey Dearmer Award for new poets was founded in his memory.

Geoffrey was one of the poets featured in the Exhibition of Poets, Writers & Artists of the Somme, held at the Wilfred Owen Story in Birkenhead, Wirral, UK in July 2016. 


“A Task of Great Happiness: The Life of Kathleen Scott” by Louisa Young (Macmillan, London 1995)
“English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” by Katherine W. Reilly (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978)

Photograph of Geoffrey photographer unknown.

NOTE: Royal Victorian Order LVO AND RVO

The Royal Victorian Order is a British dynastic order of knighthood established in 1896 by Queen Victoria. It recognises distinguished personal service to the monarch of the Commonwealth realms, members of the monarch's family, or to any viceroy or senior representative of the monarch.  The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is the sovereign of the order, the order's motto is Victoria, and its official day is 20th June. The order's chapel is the Savoy Chapel in London.

Prior to 1984, the grades of Lieutenant and Member were classified as Members (fourth class) and Members (fifth class), respectively, but both with the post-nominals MVO. On 31st December of that year, Queen Elizabeth II declared that those in the grade of Member (fourth class) would henceforth be Lieutenants with the post-nominals LVO.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Geoffrey Windeatt Daman (1894 – 1915) - British

Born in Hampstead, London, UK on 26th March 1894, Geoffrey was the elder son, only surviving son and eldest of three children born to John Frederick Karl Daman, a solicitor, of Kenilworth, Carshalton and his wife, Rosaline Mary Isabella, nee Dell.  Geoffrey’s sister was Katherine, b. 1897, and their brother who died was John, b. 1900.

When he was eight years old, Geoffrey wom a scholarship to St. George's School, Windsor Castle. He sang in the Choir at Westminster Abbey at the Coronation of King Edward VII on 9th August 1902 and later became the leader of the Royal Choir.

Geoffrey’s edication continued at Repton School, where he became a Prefect and Colour Sergeant in the Officers’ Training Corps (OTC).  He then went to Germany for six months before going up to Mgdalene College at Oxford University, where he joined the College OTC (Artillery).

On 25th August 1914, Geoffrey was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the 4th Royal Berkshire Regiment.  He was transferred to the 4th Bn, Seaforth Highlanders in September 1914, was posted to France on 5th  November 1914 and fought in the battle of Neuve Chapelle.

He was appointed Second in Command of the Bomb Mortar Section of the Dehra Doon Brigade.  Geoffrey was killed by a sniper near Richebourg l'Avoue on 24th May 1915.   He was buried in Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France, Grave Reference:  Plot XVII. C. 24.

Geoffrey’s poems were privately printed in 1915 under the title  “A Few Verses”, from which the following poem is taken:

“The Ring”

The essence of True Conservatism
is reasonable change ”
THE Worker did make the ring,
Fashion and make it
His, who should take the ring,
Ever to take it,
Ah, ’gainst what suffering
Ever to stake it,
Till He who made the ring
Also unmake it.

So ? Yet suppose that He
Testing should find it
Flawed in the tracery
Wrought there to bind it,
Think ye, my friend, would He
Leave it, or mind it ?

Would he not take the ring
Gently, nor break it,
But cunningly fashioning
Cut—and remake it ‘it?

January 1913

Geoffrey is also remembered in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, Berkshire, UK and in Carshalton All Saints Church

Sources: The Magdalen College Record, 1922; Oxford University Roll of Service, 1920; Repton School Register; Old Reptonian War Register; Bond of Sacrifice, Volume 2, Find my Past and

Photograph of Geoffrey photographer unknown.

With thanks to my friend Margaret for her help and support.

Lance Sieveking DSC (1896 –1972) – British Aviator Poet, writer and broadcasting pioneer

Lancelot De Giberne Sieveking was born on 19th March 1896 in Harrow, Middlesex, UK.  His parents were Edward Gustavus Sieveking, a timber merchant, and his wife, Isabel Sieveking, nee Giberne.  Lance’s siblings were Valentine E., b.1892, Geoffrey E., b. 1893 and Elenor B., b. 1899. The family lived in Harrow on the Hill, Hendon, Middlesex, UK, before moving to Hastings in Sussex.  The children were educated at home by a governess.

Lance became an active supporter of the suffrage movement.

Lance and his brother, Valentine Edgar, served during the First World War.  Lance enlisted in the Artists Rifles, then joined the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), which amalgamated with the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) to become the Royal Air Force in April 1918. He served on the Western Front and attained the rank of Flight Lieutenant and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), before being shot down in the area of the River Rhine in 1916 and taken prisoner-of-war by the Germans.

Repatriated on 17th December 1918, after the war, Lance went up to St Catharine's College, Cambridge, where he became friends with another Cambridge student - Eric Maschwitz. They were both editors of the poetry magazine “The new Cambridge”.  Lance went to work as Director of Education at the newly-created British Broadcasting Corporation, which was originally founded in 1922 as a private company by a consortium of radio manufacturers who wanted to create a market to encourage the sale of wireless sets.

Lance was married three times - in 1924, he married April C Quilter, in 1929, he married Victoria "Natalie" Alice Bevan (Ackenhausen -Denny) and in 1949, he married Maisie D Meiklejohn.

With the BBC, Lance went on to produce radio dramas and was a drama script editor from 1940 until 1950.  He retired in 1956. Lance died on 6th January 1972 in Suffolk, leaving a legacy of writing which is in the keeping of the Lilly Library, and consists of "correspondence, radio plays, manuscripts for short stories, for novels, and for nonfiction works, diaries, drawings, and photographs" together with "many photographs from the World War I period showing airplanes, North Africa and from Lance's captivity as a German prisoner-of-war."

Lance’s WW1 poetry collection, “The Cud: Experimental Poems” was published by Mills & Boon in 1922.  (Catherine W. Reilly, “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” published by St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978 - p. 293).

Photograph of Lance in his RNAS uniform - photographer unknown.

Sad news - Pierre Virey died on 14th March 2019

It is with great sadness that we tell you that Pierre Virey died last Thursday - 14th March 2019 - at the age of 86. 

Pierre was extremely supportive of this commemorative WW1 poetry project.  A French friend suggested I contact him some years ago and so began a wonderful exchange of correspondence, books and memorabilia about the poetry of the First World War.  Pierre and his family also very kindly made a pilgrimage to the Arras Memorial, where our Great Uncle, who was killed  on the first day of the Battle of Arras, is remembered.  They took photographs and left a poppy cross on behalf of our family.

Pierre lived  in France and was Professeur Agrégé  honoraire, Officier des Palmes Académiques, Ancien Professeur de Khâgne au Lycée Faidherbe, Lille, chargé de cours à Lille III et à la Catho Lille and ancien conseiller municipal.

Over the years, Pierre had amassed an enormous collection of First World War poetry from many countries and he translated those poems into French.  His work was truly amazing and very inspirational.  Pierre, who was a fluent English speaker, very generously shared his work, his vast knowledge of literature and his life-time of experience with me.

Pierre will be very sadly missed.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Edmund George Valpy (E.V.) Knox (1881 – 1971) – British

Edmund was born in Oxford on 10th May 1881. His parents were Edmund Arbuthnot Knox, an Anglican church minister, and his wife, Ellen Penelope Knox, nee French, daughter of Thoms Valpy French, Bishop of Lahore.  Edmund senior was the Bishop of Manchester from 1903 until 1921.

Educated at King’s School Birmingham, Rugby and Corpus Christie College, Oxford, Edmund taught for a year at North Manchester Preparatory School before going to London to become a journalist.  He was a writer and poet and used the pen name ‘Evoe’.  In 1912, he married Christina, daughter of the Bishop of Lincoln and they had two children – Edmund Rawle and Penelope Mary.  Christina died in 1935 and Edmund married Mary Shepard, daughter of E.H. Shepard, illustrator of “Winnie the Pooh”.  Mary illustrated “Mary Poppins”.

During the First World War, Edmund joined the Lincolnshire Regiment as a Second Lieutenant. Posted to the Western Front, he was wounded during the Battle of Passchendaele.

After the War, Edmund became editor of “Punch” Magazine from 1932 until 1949.  He died on 2nd January 1971 in Hampstead.

The WW1 collection of E.V. Knox – “Poems of Impudence” – was published by Arthur Watts in 1926. He also had a poem published in the WW1 anthology “The Fiery Cross” edited by Mabel C. Edwards and Mary Booth (Grant Richard, London, 1915) and sold in aid of the Red Cross.  Another collection was “Parodies Regained” (Methuen & Co. Ltd, London, 1921), illustrated by George Morrow, cartoonist and book illustrator.

Sources:  Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) and Penelope Fitzgerald “The Knox Brothers” (Counterpoint, USA, 2000)

Photo from

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Stanley Preston Kimmel (1894 - ) – American

With many thanks to Geoff Harrison for finding another poet for the List of Forgotten Poets of the First World War.

Stanley Preston Kimmel was born on 12th June 1894 in Du Quoin, Perry County, Illinois, USA. His parents were Daniel Luther Kimmel (1857–1926) and  Edith Preston Kimmel (1859–1929).  Stanley had the following siblings:
Clarence Eugene Kimmel (1895–1958) and Half Siblings Launa Lucille Kimmel Lewis (1885–1962).

Stanley married Blanche Vignes Kimmel (1884–1927).

When war broke out in 1914, Stanley was about to start college at the University of Southern California (USC). After the entry of the Unites States of America into the war on the side of the Allies, Stanley abandoned his third year of studies, and travelled to France. His plan was to enlist with the famous French flying squadron, the Lafayette Escadrille.

Stanley wrote: "In those days the French Government allowed only five days from the time you entered France to get into uniform. So I met another American who was driving ambulances for the Army and as my five days were running out, I became an ambulance driver."

The Army Stanley referred to was the French army, and the ambulances were part of the American Field Service.  Kimmel was soon driving his Buick ambulance with Section Sanitaire Americaine, Ambulance 24, Car No. 268 in the Verdun Sector. Stanley was  awarded medals for his service in three areas of conflict: Verdun, Morte Homme and Hill 304.

In 1918 with American forces now on Active Service in France, Kimmel, like other American volunteers, was obliged to join the American forces. He became a cadet with the US Navy Air Force - still harbouring his desire to reach for the skies. It is not known if he ever got his wings.

“Blue Steel”

Today I killed a man.
I stuck him through
And saw his blood spurt.
His flesh was like warm butter,
Heard him cry and say something
Which I did not understand.
He fell and took my gun with him,
And then - I thought of Liege,
And did not give
A damn.


Stanley died on 28th July 1982 (aged 88) in Sarasota, Sarasota County, Florida, USA and was buried in Metairie Cemetery,New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, USA, Grave Reference: Sec 47.

Stanley wrote about his experiences as an ambulance driver on the Western Front in a book entitled"Crucifixion", published in 1922.  This is avaiable to read on Archive as a free down-load:

Regarding the American Field Service, there is a video showing the work of the AFS in the field:

“Poems and Fantasies” by Stanley Preston Kimmel: Including Two Poem Dramas (1916)

The poem “Blue Steel” was one of a series of poems published in 1919 in a book entitled "Souvenirs" (Los Angeles: Grafton, 1916). This is available to read on Archive:

Monday, 11 March 2019

Harold Edward Monro (1879 – 1932) – British poet and founder of the Poetry Bookshop

Harold was born on 14th March 1879 in Brussels, Belgium. His parents were Edward William Monro (1848–1889), civil engineer, and his wife and first cousin, Arabel Sophia (1849–1926), daughter of Peter John Margary, who was also a civil engineer.  When Harold was nine his father. The Monro family lived in Bloomsbury in London, UK. Harold’s paternal grandfather was Dr Henry Munro FRCP MD.

Educated at Radley College and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, Harold’s first collection of poetry was published in 1906. He also edited the magazine “The Poetry Review”.  Harold opened the Poetry Bookshop at 35 Devonshire Street in Bloomsbury in 1913.  This was to encourage young and established poets who gave readings of their work to poetry enthusiasts.  Harold also helped the poets to have their work published. Above the Bookshop were rooms which Harold let out to aspiring poets such as Wilfrid Wilson Gibson and Wilfred Owen.  Harold co-operated with Edward Marsh in publishing the Georgian Poetry series.

Harold’s first marriage to Dorothy Elizabeth Browne in 1903 was not a success.
In March 1913 Harold met Alida Klemantaski who took over the running of the Bookshop when Harold was on war service in the Garrison Artillery. The couple married in 1920. Alida's brother Louis Klemantaski, was also a poet - he died at the Somme in 1916.

Harold’s poems "Youth in Arms" were written in the early months of the First World War and seem to have been inspired by his friend, Basil Watt, who was killed at Loos in 1915.

Harold died of TB on 16th March 1932


When you have tidied all things for the night,
And while your thoughts are fading to their sleep,
You'll pause a moment in the late firelight,
Too sorrowful to weep.

The large and gentle furniture has stood
In sympathetic silence all the day
With that old kindness of domestic wood;
Nevertheless the haunted room will say:
"Someone must be away."

The little dog rolls over half awake,
Stretches his paws, yawns, looking up at you,
Wags his tail very slightly for your sake,
That you may feel he is unhappy too.

A distant engine whistles, or the floor
Creaks, or the wandering night-wind bangs a door

Silence is scattered like a broken glass.
The minutes prick their ears and run about,
Then one by one subside again and pass
Sedately in, monotonously out.

You bend your head and wipe away a tear.
Solitude walks one heavy step more near.

Harold Munro

James Laver (1899 – 1975) – Poet, writer, art historian and museum curator

Born in Toxteth Park  Merseyside, UK on 14th March 1899, James Laver’s parents were Arthur James Laver, a manager in a stationer’s and Florence Mary Laver, nee Barker, who died in 1904.

James was educated at the Liverpool Institute school.  During the First World War, he was commissioned into the (King’s Own) Royal Lancaster Regiment as a Second Lieutenant.

After the was, James resumed his studies and went to New College, Oxford,
From 1938 until 1959, he was the Keeper of Prints, Drawings and Paintings at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

James Laver died on 3rd June 1975

Saturday, 9 March 2019

James Fenimore-Cooper, Jr. (1892 – 1918) – American

James was born on 10th March 1892 in Albany, NY, America.   His parents were James Fenimore Cooper and Susan Linn Fenimore Cooper. His siblings were Henry Sage Fenimore-Cooper; Linn Fenimore-Cooper; Paul Fenimore Cooper and DeLancey Fenimore-Cooper.

James was the grandson of the author of “The Last of the Mohicans”.

Educated at the Albany Academy and the Taft School, Watertown, Connecticut, James went on to study law at Yale University, from which he graduated in 1913.

Wishing to serve with the American Expeditionay Force in France, in May 1917 James commenced training at the Officers’ Training Camp at Madison Barracks, NY.  On 15th August 1917 James was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant and posted to Battery D, 308th Field Artillery, 78th Division.

James died of pneumonia on 17th February 1918 at Fort Dix, Burlington County, New Jersey, USA.

James Fenimore-Cooper’s WW1 poetry collection “Afterglow” was published in 1918).  The title poem was later set to music by Charles Ives.

“Death” by James Fenimore Cooper Jr.

I saw at night upon the sky
The clear path of a meteorite
Blaze down unmeasured space and die;

As if indeed the heavens were cleft
By God’s bright finger, and again
Only the winking stars were left.

My thoughts sang through their orbits high:
My restless spirit questioned “why?”

From “As Ashes Follow Fire: Neglected Voices of World War One” page 98

With thanks to Robert Cochrane who has included James in his wonderful anthology “As Ashes Follow Fire: Neglected Voices of World War One” (The Bad Press, Manchester, UK, 2018)

Photograph and additional information from

Here is another one of James's poems, kindly sent to me by author AC Benus:

Thy voice, as tender as the light
That shivers low at eve –
Thy hair, where myriad flashes bright
Do in and outward weave –
Thy charms in their diversity
Half frighten and astonish me.

Thy hands, that move above the keys
With eager touch and swift –
Whereby thy mind, with magic ease
Doth into music drift –
They fill me with a strange delight
That doth defy expression quite.

Thine eyes, that hold a mirth subdued –
Like deep pools scattering fire –
Mine dare not meet them in their mood,
For fear of my desire,
Lest thou that secret do descry
Which evermore I must deny.

Thy very quiet dignity
Thy silence, too, I love –
Nay – thy light word is destiny
Decreed in spheres above –
My mind, my heart is bowed to thee,
And hard it is that I must flee.

Hard is a world that dare not give
For every love a place:
Hard is a power that bids us live
A life bereft of grace –
Hard, hard to lose thy figure dear,
My star and my religion here.

James Fenimore Cooper, II – 1916

AC Benus tells me that he recently discovered composer Greg Bartholomew has set that poem to music. This four-voice canon is very moving, especially near the end. And if you watch the Youtube version, you can see the full score.

Additionbal information received from Carlos Rosende in December 2021:

Though not included in his biography listed on this site, I thought it 
might be worth including that after graduating from Yale, James Fenimore 
Cooper, Jr. entered the Harvard Law School class of 1917.  His name is 
listed on the memorial wall in HLS's Langdell Library, along with other HLS 
alumni who died during WWI.


Friday, 8 March 2019

Ivan Heald MC (1883 - 1916) - British writer, poet and journalist

Ivan Shackleton Heald was born on 13th October 1883 in Accrington, Lancashire.  His parents were John Thomas Heald, a schoolteacher, and his wife Mary, nee Shackleton.  Ivan had the following siblings: Harry, b. 1880, Nora (1882 – 1961) – who became the Editor of the magazines “The Queen” and “The Lady” - and Edith (1885 – 1976).  Among Ivan’s uncles were John Shackleton, one of the first directors of the North of Ireland Paper Mills, and Mr. A. Ross of Ballyclare

In the 1901 Census, Ivan and his family lived in Fox Street, Accrington and he worked as a clerk in the Iron Works.

A gifted writer, Ivan become a journalist.  He began working for the “Ulster Gazette” then moved to Manchester to work for the “Sunday Chronicle” and then to London, where he worked for the “Daily Express”.  By 1911, he was working as a Sub Editor and lived in a Boarding House in London.  He worked for the “Daily Express” and gained a reputation as a humourous writer.

Ivan volunteered for the Royal Naval Division in 1914 and on 9th February 1915 he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.  He joined the Benbow Battalion as Scout and Signal Officer in March 1915 and the Hood Battalion on 10th June 1915 and was posted to Gallipoli, where he was wounded. 

By 1916, Ivan was a Lieutenant and had been posted to the Western Front. In February 1916, Ivan transferred to the Royal Flying Corps as an Observer/Gunner and joined 25 Squadron.   He and his pilot were shot down in flames on 4th December 1916 near Arras.  Ivan was buried in Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France, Grave Reference XVI. D. 11.

According to his obituary in “The People” of 10th December 1916, (p. 10), Ivan was awarded a Military Cross for bravery. He was also Mentioned in Despatches during the Gallipoli Campaign.


So quietly we left our trench

That night, yet this I know -

As we stole down to Sedd-el-Bahr

Our dead mates heard us go.

As I came down the Boyau Nord

A dead hand touched my sleeve,

A dead hand from the parapet

Reached out and plucked my sleeve.

'Oh, what is toward, O mate o' mine,

That ye pass with muffled tread,

And there comes no guard for the firing-trench.

The trench won by your dead?'

The dawn was springing on the hills,

'Twas time to put to sea,

But all along the Boyau Nord,

A dead voice followed me.

'Oh, little I thought', a voice did say,

'That ever a lad of Tyne

Would leave me alone in the cold trench side.

And him a mate of mine.'

We sailed away from Sedd-el-Bahr,

We are sailing home on leave.

But this I know – through all the years

Dead hands will pluck my sleeve.

From Ivan’s book - "Ivan Heald Hero and Humorist", with a Foreword written by fellow “Daily Express” journalist, Sidney Dark, published in 1917 by C. Arthur Pearson, Ltd., London.

With thanks to Alan Hewer for additional information.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Arthur Lewis Jenkins (1892 – 1917) – British Soldier and Aviator Poet

Arthur Lewis Jenkins was born on 9th March 1892 in Gloucestershire.  His father, Sir John Lewis Jenkins KCSI, was a civil servant and became Vice President of the Indian Viceroy's Council.  His mother was Florence Mildred Jenkins, nee Trevor, who was born in India. Florence's father was Sir Arthur  Charles Trevor KCSI. 

Arthur’s siblings were Elinor Jenkins (a Female Poet of the First World War) born in 1893, Evan Meredith Jenkins, born in 1896 - who became a Governor of the Punjab - Joyce Angharad Jenkins, born in 1897, David Llewellyn Jenkins, born in 1899 - who became Baron Jenkins a high court judge – John (Jock) Vaughn Jenkins, born in 1903, and Owain Trevor Jenkins, born in 1907 - who was later knighted.

The Jenkins children were educated in England, where they lived at the family home in Littleham, Exmouth, Devon. Elinor attended Southlands School in Exmouth.  In 1912, following the death of their father, the family went to live in Kew.

Arthur was educated at Marlborough College, where he became Head Boy. He was a keen athlete, boxer and swimmer and played Rugby for the school.  He also joined the school’s Officer Training Corps (OTC).  In 1914, Arthur was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.  After service in India, Aden and Egypt, the Regiment was disbanded, so Arthur applied to transfer to the fledgling Royal Flying Corps.  He trained in Egypt, where he gained his "wings".

Posted byck to Britain, while on patrol in a Home-Defence Squadron on 31st December 1917, Arthur was killed in a flying accident.  At the time of his death, Arthur held the rank of Lieutenant.  He was buried in Richmond Cemetery in Surrey and is also remembered on the Marlborough School Roll of Honour, Packwood Haugh, and Balliol College.

“Punch” Magazine and “The Westminster Gazette” published some of Arthur’s poetry, as did his school Magazine.  His WW1 collection “Forlorn Adventures and other poems” was published by Sidgwick & Jackson, London, in 1918.  Arthur’s poems were also included in four WW1 poetry anthologies.

“Outposts” by Arthur Lewis Jenkins

When the moonlit shadows creep,
When the sun beats pitiless down,
Steadfast, vigilant they keep
Watch and ward about the town.

Guardians of our Empire’s gate,
In the sunshine and the dust,
Still beside their guns they wait,
Faithful to their wary trust.

Not for them the hero’s cross,
Not for them the hero’s grave,
Thrill of victory, pain of loss,
Praise of those they fall to save.

Only days of monotone,
Sand and fever, flies and fret,
All unheeded and unknown,
Little thanks they’re like to get.

Yet mahap in after days
Distant eye the clearer sees
Gods apportioning the praise
Shall be kindly unto these.

With grateful thanks to Sharon Casey, a distant cousin of Arthur Lewis Jenkins, who sent me quite a lot of information and to Paul Thompson, son of Susan V. Thompson, nee Jenkins, daughter of Jock Vaughan Jenkins;
and to
Jacky Rodgers,  Phil Dawes and Dean Echenberg and Rugby in the First World War;
to Ian Glen, Arts and Humanities Librarian at Swansea University and to Sidgwick and Jackson the publishers.

Additional Sources:
Roll of Honour;
"Western Mail" Thursday, 3 January 1918
Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978)

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Donald Fredrick Goold Johnson (1890 - 1916) – British Poet

Donald was born on 6th March 1890 in Saffron Walden, Essex, UK, the youngest of four children – three boys and a girl - born to the Reverend Richard Alexander Johnson and his wife, Eliza Bennett Johnson.

Educated at Caterham School, Donald went up to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he joined the Officer Training Corps.  Donald demonstrated an aptitude for writing poetry and in 1914 was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal for English Verse for “The Southern Pole”, about Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s doomed expedition to the Antarctic.

When war broke out, Donald joined the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. Commissioned as an officer in February 1915, Donald was posted to France on 7th December 1915.  His brother Owen served with the 11th  Suffolk Regiment and his brother The Rev. Lewis G. Johnson, served with the YMCA in France.

Wounded during an attack on German Lines in Authville Wood on 15th July 1916 during the Somme Offensive, Donald died at the Dressing Station in Bouzincourt, France soon afterwards and is buried in Bouzincourt Communal Cemetery Extension.

Owen Johnson was killed during the Battle of Arras in 1917 and their sister died in Calcutta in 1915.  Donald’s poem “H.M.J.” was dedicated to her memory.

A collection of Donald’s poems was published in 1919 by Cambridge University Press, entitled “Poems”   This is available as a free download on Archive:

“Combien Après?” by Donald Fredric Goold Johnson from “Poems” pp. 26 - 27

It may be, in the after-years,
Our souls shall touch across the space,
It may be, on my heart of tears
Shall break the music of thy grace;
But who can make again for me
That perfect form, that maddening glee?

It may be that thy voice shall speak
Across a universe unknown.
Like some gold -fleckered sunset streak
That crowns one moment's bliss alone;
But shall I know in Paradise
Thy godly lips and hands and eyes?

It may be, in that heavenly land
All priests and prophets have foretold,
That spectre beings hand in hand
The great white throne of God enfold;
But shall I feel and see thee there,
And kiss the flowers of thy hair?

It may be, Sweet, that love shall live
Beyond the shadow-hours of Death,
That Hope some comfort still shall give
When this fond body yields its breath;
But could I know that I should see
Thy glorious lips, all fear would flee.

It may be, in another world
Far from the sorrowings of this,
I still shall watch thy lips shy-curl’d
And taste their beauty in a kiss;
It may be — but the very may
Takes half the glorious hope away.

Then, Darling, kiss me while the light
Shines on thy hair and radiant form,
This day at least the sun is bright
And bodes no darkness of the storm;
Come, let us join our sweet lips fast
Tho' this same hour should be our last.

The photograph of Donald - photographer unknown - is in the front of his collection of poems.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Edward Thomas (1878 – 1917) – British writer, critic and poet

“The Father of us all” – Ted Hughes

Philip Edward Thomas was born on 3rd March 1878 in Lambeth, London, UK.  His parents were Philip Henry Thomas, a Civil Servant, and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, nee Townsend.  Edward had the following siblings: :  Ernest Henry, b. 1880. Theodore C., b. 1882, Reginald Townsend, b. 1884, Oscar, b. 1886, and Julian, b. 1890.   Edward’s family were of Welsh origin.

Educated at Battersea Grammar School and St. Paul’s School in London, Edward won a scholarship to Lincoln College at Oxford University.  While studying at Oxford, Edward met James Ashcroft Noble, a former editor of “The Liverpool Argus” newspaper, who wrote for “The Spectator” and had articles published in “The Yellow Book”.

Noble encourage Edward to write and Edward fell in love with James Noble’s second daughter Helen Berenice.  They were married in Fulham in 1899 and had three children.

Edward began working as a critic for “The Daily Chronicle” in London and at that time befriended Welsh poet W.H. Davies, renting him a cottage on the Thomas family farm in Sevenoaks, Kent.

The opening of Harold Monro’s Poetry Bookshop in Bloomsbury, London in January 1913, brought together poetry lovers and poets alike for poetry readings, discussions, etc.  Rupert Booke, who Edward had met in the village of Steep in 1910, called the Bookshop “The centre of the New Poetry.”

Edward enlisted in the Artists’ Rifle Regiment in 1915 as a Private.  In November 1916 Edward was commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery as a Second Lieutenant.  He was killed on the first day of the Battle of Arras – Easter Monday, 9th April 1917 – on the Western Front in France and was buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery at Agny, France – Row 3, 43.

Edward's friend, the poet W.H. Davies, wrote a poem about Edward’s death – “Killed in Action (Edward Thomas)” – which was published in Davies’ collection “Raptures” in 1918.  The Thomas family friend the poet Eleanor Farjeon wrote a poem to the memory of Edward Thomas entitled “Easter Monday (In Memoriam E.T.)”. Edward's brother, Julian, who was also a poet, also wrote a poem to the memory of his brother (see post about Julian Thomas on Forgotten Poets 9 May 2021).

Edward Thomas is among the poets commemorated in Poets’ Corner in London’s Westminster Abbey.

“In Memoriam (Easter, 1915)”

The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.

Edward's WW1 poetry collections were:

“Six Poems” – pen-name Edward Eastaway (Pear Tree Press, 1916);  “Poems” (Hold, 1917);  “Last Poems” (Selwyn & Blount, 1918) and “Collected Poems” (Selwyn & Blount, 1920) and his poems were featured in thirteen WW1 poetry anthologies.

The poets W.H. Auden and Cecil Day Lewis thought of Edward Thomas that he was a poet “they had little or no hope of ever equalling” and WW2 poet Ted Huges labelled him “the father of us all”.

Photograph of Edward Thomas in uniform photographer unknown.

Sources:  Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War:  A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) and Matthew Hollis “Now all Roads lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas” (Faber & Faber, London, 2012)
Find my Past and Free BMD

“Out in the Dark” by Edward Thomas

Out in the dark over the snow
The fallow fawns invisible go
With the fallow doe ;
And the winds blow
Fast as the stars are slow.

Stealthily the dark haunts round
And, when the lamp goes, without sound
At a swifter bound
Than the swiftest hound,
Arrives, and all else is drowned ;

And star and I and wind and deer,
Are in the dark together, – near,
Yet far, – and fear
Drums on my ear
In that sage company drear.

How weak and little is the light,
All the universe of sight,
Love and delight,
Before the might,
If you love it not, of night.

Eric Fitzwalter Wilkinson, MC (1891 - 1917) British Poet and Schoolteacher

Born in Rochdale, Yorkshire, UK on 2nd March 1891 the youngest of three sons, Eric’s parents were Herbert Ashburn Wilkinson and his wife, Elizabeth Mary, nee Wray. 

Educated in grammar schools in Dorchester and Ilkley, Yorkshire, Eric went on to study engineering at the University of Leeds, where he joined the Officers’ Training Corps (OTC).

During the First World War, Eric joined the Leeds Rifles, West Yorkshire Regiment and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.  He was posted to the Western Front where he was wounded and awarded the Military Cross (MC) for rescuing wounded soldiers under fire.

After his recovery, Eric returned to the war zone and was wounded again during the Battle of Thiepval in The Somme Offensive on 1st July 1916.   He became Town Mayor of Varennes and was promoted to the rank of Captain.

Eric was killed in action at Passchendaele on 9th October 1917 and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France, as well as on a plaque in Ben Rhydding Methodist Church, Ilkley, Yorkshire.

Eric’s WW1 poetry collection was “Sunrise Dreams, and Other Poems” (Erskine Macdonald, London, 1916.  His poems were published in three WW1 poetry anthologies.

 “To a Lark at Dawn between the Trenches” from “Sunrise Dreams, and Other Poems”

Thy song comes thrilling through the air
a glorious stream of melody—
A golden flood.
What precious chance has kept thee there.
Singing thy strains of faerie glee,
Where all is blood?
We cannot see thee, wondrous bird;
The dawn has scarce begun as yet;
The moon still high.
But friend and foe thy song have heard.
And none who hear it can forget
Nor check a sigh.
Because thy music, wildly sweet.
Seems still to call us from the ground
To soar and fly;
But we, alas, have leaden feet;
Unloveliness is all around.
Men fight and die.
’Tis no fit place for such high lore.
For we are bound, we cannot rise—
Till the blood mist clears.
But fly to him who launched the war.
Sing, sing to him and ope’ his eyes
To human tears.

Alas! poor sprite! thy fate with him
Were poor indeed. For one who wrongs
A world entire,
To glut ambition’s idle whim,
Will never hearken to thy songs
Of hallowed fire.
Then stay with us. The nightingale
Shall sing all night her sad, sweet dirge
For death and pain;
But Dawn thine own free voice shall hail.
And in the heart high Hope shall surge
And soar again.
And grim-faced men with weary eyes
Shall turn their thoughts from blood and strife.
Across the foam.
To where, beneath Old England’s skies.
Thy sisters sing of love and life
To those at home.

Sources:  Find my Past and Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. martin’s Press, New York, 1978)

Photograph of Eric Fitzwater Wilkinson photographer unknown.