Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Walter Flex (1887 - 1917) – German poet

Walter was one of the poets featured in the commemorative exhibition of Poets of Arras, 
Messines, Passchendaele and More held in 2017

Born in Eisenach on 6th July 1887 to a secondary school teacher, Walter studied at the University of Erlangen.  Walter also became a school teacher.

When war broke out, Walter volunteered to join the German Army and, with the rank of Lieutenant, was sent to the Eastern Front. Wounded fighting during fighting at Oti Manor, Saaremace in Estonia, Walter died on 16th October 1917. His grave in Konigsberg, which is now Kaliningrad in Russia, was destroyed during the Second World War.

Walter Flex has a memorial in Eisenach in Germany with a replica of the cross in Peude, which originally marked his grave.

Walter’s poetry collection “Der Wanderer zwischen beiden Welter” (Tr.: A Wanderer between two worlds) was published by Verlag C.H.
Beck in 1916 and was very well received. One of his poems –

“Wildgänse rauschen durch die Nacht” was set to music.

Wildgänse rauschen durch die Nacht
Mit schrillem Schrei nach Norden –
Unstäte Fahrt! Habt acht, habt acht!
Die Welt ist voller Morden.

Fahrt durch die nachtdurchwogte Welt,
Graureisige Geschwader!
Fahlhelle zuckt, und Schlachtruf gellt,
Weit wallt und wogt der Hader.

Rausch' zu, fahr' zu, du graues Heer!
Rauscht zu, fahrt zu nach Norden!
Fahrt ihr nach Süden übers Meer –
Was ist aus uns geworden!

Wir sind wie ihr ein graues Heer
Und fahr'n in Kaisers Namen,
Und fahr'n wir ohne Wiederkehr,
Rauscht uns im Herbst ein Amen.

Translation:  Wild Geese soar through the Night

Wild geese soar through the night
With a shrill cries they steer to the north -
An unsteady ride! Take care, Take care!
The world is full of murder.

Fly on through the night-swollen world,
Gray-headed squadrons!
Pale dawn begins to appear, and battle cries ring out,
As the squadron floats far and wide.

Forge onwards, drive forwards, gray army!
Drive on, drive on to the north!
Travel south over the sea -
What have we become!

Like the geese, we are a gray army
And in the name of our Kaiser,
We drive ever forward without looking back,
And in the autumn the sound of an Amen reaches us.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Kurd Adler (1892 – 1916) – German Expressionist poet

With thanks to Timo Gälzer for his help and for finding a photograph of Kurd for me.

Little is known about Kurd Adler, other than that he was part of the German Expressionist movement.

He served in the German Army and wrote poems about the experiences of the ordinary soldier on the front line.  These poems were published in the First World War Anthology “Die Aktion 1914 – 1916”, edited by Franz Pfemfert.  From 1915 onwards, Pfemfert also published Adler’s poems in a weekly literary and political magazine called “Die Aktion”.

Kurd Adler was killed fighting during the Somme Offensive on 6th July 1916.

A collection of his poems was published in 1918.


Friday, 5 July 2019

Desmond Coke (1879 - 1931) - British Writer

Desmond Coke featured in the Exhibition of Poets, Writers and Artists of the Somme held in 2016. I have not yet been able to find out if he wrote any poems.

Desmond Frances Talbot Coke was born in London on 5th July 1879.  His parents were Major-General John Talbot Coke and his wife, Charlotte, nee Fitzgerald.  Charlotte was a journalist who contributed to women's magazine.

Educated at Shrewsbury School before going up to Oxford, Desmond joined the University's Volunteer Battalion.

When war broke out, Desmond was commissioned into the 10th (Service) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 25th October 1914.  He was sent to the Western Front where one of his duties as Ajutant of the Regiment was to write up the Battalion Diary.  Desmond contracted Trench Fever in May 1916 and was sent back to Britain to recuperate.

Invalided out of the Army due to a heart problem, Desmond became a teacher at Clayesmore School.  He wrote adventure stories for boys and used the pen-name "Belinda Blinders".

Desmond died on 27th April 1931 in Worthing.

Desmond Coke portrait by Elliott & Fry

Desmond wrote a Foreword to the collection of poems written by his friend Richard Dennys - "There is no Death, Poems... With a foreword by Desmond Coke, and a portrait, etc. by Richard Molesworth Dennys and Desmond Francis Talbot Coke" 

Perhaps Desmond's  most famous book was “The Bending of the Twig” (Chapman & Hall, London, 1907). His declared aim in writing that book was “ to level destructive satire at the conventional school story, and on its ruins to erect a structure rather nearer to real life.” 


Wikipeida and
https://www.loyalregiment.com/captain-francis-desmond-talbot-coke/by Paul McCormick.


Monday, 1 July 2019

WW1 soldier poets killed on the first day of the Somme Offensive - 1st July 1916

The Somme Offensive that began on 1st July 1916 took the lives of many WW1 soldier poets:

Alfred Victor Ratcliffe, 
William Noel Hodgson, MC, 
Alexander Robertson, 
Henry Lionel Field, 
John William Streets, 
Gilbert Waterhouse, 
Bernard Charles de Boismaison White and 
Alan Seeger

were all killed 1st July 1916. Here is the link to the book of the exhibition of Somme Poets in WW1.

In July 2016, we held an exhibition of WW1 Somme Poets, Writers and Artists.  Here is a link to the book of that exhibition http://www.poshupnorth.com/2016/06/the-somme-1916-available-1st-july-pre.html?fbclid=IwAR3jwqqOhumCLZkMZXPH8oHDNTCYrZQA79LJdJi3kqnJ7Zk0BS7vAVLWdTQ