Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Newman Levy (1888 - 1966) - American poet

With thanks to Dr Margaret Stetz for finding this poet for us

Newman (after his paternal Grandfather) was born in Manhatten, New York, USA on 30th November 1888.  His father, British-born Abraham Levy (1861 – 1920), was a distinguished New York lawyer. Newman’s siblings were Elizabeth and Helen.  Educated initially at a ‘Dame School’ run by two elderly German ladies and then at the Barnard School for Boys, Newman, began writing verse at an early age and learnt to play the piano.  He went on to study law at New York University and became a lawyer, poet, playwright and essayist.

During the First World War, Newman attended several military training camps, beginning with Lake Charles in Louisiana, then Plattsburg Camp in the Spring of 1916. When he left home for military service, his mother gave all of his civilian clothes to the Red Cross in a patriotic gesture.  

Having heard a talk given at a college reunion given by Guy Empey, who wrote a book entitled “Over the Top” about his WW1 service, Newman realised he would probably not be able to cope with trench life.   So he applied to become a cadet in the Army Air Corps, known at the time, as he points out in his book “My Double Life”, as the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps. (p. 89).  

In April 1917, Newman wrote a poem entitled “Mr Yankling Sees it Through”, inspired by H.G. Wells’ novel “Mr Britling sees it through”. Newman's poem was published and he received 50 Dollars for it.

Newman then learnt to fly aeroplanes at the US Army School of Military Aeronautics in Ithaca, New York. After buzzing his own airfield he was grounded and went to New York to try to enlist in April 1918.   However, Army enlistments were closed but the Navy was an option, so Newman was sent to yet another training camp - Pelham Bay Naval Training Station in Pelham Bay Park's Rodman's Neck in the Bronx.  Located near City Island, and Westchester county, it was operational from 1917 to 1919.  They published a magazine at Pelham – “The Broadside”.

After his discharge, Newman wrote some verse for “The Conning Tower” a newspaper column edited by American journalist Franklin Pierce Adams (1881 – 1960). The column began in the “New York Evening Mail” -1904 to 1913 – and was then called "Always in Good Humor” publishing reader contributions. In 1914, Franklin moved his column to the “New-York Tribune”, where it was retitled “The Conning Tower” and was considered to be "the pinnacle of verbal wit.  Later still the FPA, as he was known, took the column to “The World”.

Newman’s verse and some of his short fiction was published in "The New Yorker" and also collected in three books: “Opera Guyed”, “Theatre Guyed” and “Gay But Wistful Verses”.


Oh, 'twas back in the fall of '17 that I went as a volunteer,
For the war was raging across the sea and the war was raging here.
And every lad had a khaki suit and a sweater and helmet knit,
And a shiny mirror made of tin and a khaki comfort kit.
And every lad had a luminous watch and a pair of Munson shoes,
And the Poems of Robert Service bound in the leather that's known as ooze.

Oh, some may call it a glorious war, but we soldiers knew ' twas hell,
We were stationed up at Ithaca at a place that they call Cornell ;
And they crammed us full of all sorts of things, and they drilled us from morn till night,
And we learned to master the Lewis gun and the Theory of Flight.
And as we lay at the close of day on our cots when our work was through.
Some guy from a bunk near mine would spout “ The Shooting of Dan  Megrew."

Yet they drilled us hard and they crammed us worse till our heads they were bursting full,
And they rode us too, and the worst of the crew was a Lieut. known as Franklin Bull.
No, I never harked to the cannon's roar nor the shriek of a shrapnel shell ,
And my only Huns were the waiter men at the Ithaca Hotel.
Yet I shudder to think of the horrors of war that I suffered at Cornell U.,
As I listened in bed through the silent night to " The Shooting of Dan Megrew."

A fellow named Charlie Hoffman used to recite it each night at mess ,
I remember Thanksgiving dinner, when he performed it with great success .
Dick Eustis and young John Meany, and - need I name any more ?
Why, Henry Churchill did it, and that warrior, Jack Hoare.

Now this cruel war has ended just as Milne once said it would,
And I'm through with the horrors of warfare ; I'm a veteran now for good.
And I'm done with the well-known army, henceforth and forevermore,
And they'll have to catch me first before I'll sign for another war.
For my soul is wearing a Service stripe for the suffering I've been through,
From the Poems of Robert Service and " The Shooting of Dan Megrew ."

Pp 63 and 64 “Gay but Wistful Verses” Alfred A. Knopf, New York:, 1925


Newman Levy “My Double Life – Adventures in Law and Letters” (Doubleday, Garden City, New York, 1958) via Archive - https://archive.org/details/lccn_58006645 – retrieved 29.6.2021 



Photograph of Newman Levy by Eva Garshon Levy from http://www.stewarthendrickson.com/songs/NewmanLevy.html

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

“Mametz Wood” – a poem by Llewelyn Wyn Griffith CBE (1890 – 1977) – Welsh WW1 soldier poet who served with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in WW1

With grateful thanks to Nick Lock of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum

for finding this poem for us 

During the First World War, Llewelyn served in the Royal Welsh* Fusiliers, initially as a Second Lieutenant and later as a Captain, with the 15th (1st London Welsh) Battalion, on the Western Front.  The poem, which has been found for us by Nick Lock of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum in Caernarvon Castle, Caernarvon, Wales, is from Llewelyn’s WW1 Poetry Colliection “The Barren Tree”, published by . Penmark, Cardiff in 1945 - pp. 18 - 21.

Mametz Wood

About four thousand men from the Welsh Division were killed or wounded in the attack on Mametz Wood that took place in July 1916, during the First Battle of the Somme.  The wood still stands today and there is a Memorial to the 38th Division nearby. 

Mametz Wood was large, overgrown and defended by experienced German troops.   The first attack, on 7th  July 1916, failed to reach the wood. Welsh soldiers, who were expected to make a frontal assault in daylight on German positions, were machine-gunned as they moved across open fields.

Mametz is a village in the Somme Departement in France on the D 64 road, about 20 miles (32 km) north-east of Amiens and 4 miles (6.4 km) east of Albert. Fricourt is to the west, Contalmaison to the north, Montauban to the north-east and Carnoy and Maricourt to the south-east. Mametz Wood is 1,000 yards (910 m.) to the north west.

Llewelyn’s brother Watcyn Emil Owen Griffith was killed at Mametz Wood in July 1916.  Watcyn was born in 1897.  He joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers like his elder brother and served on the Western Front with the 17th Battalion.  He was killed on 10th July 1916 and has no known grave.  Watcyn is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial in France, Pier and Face 4A.  

Llewelyn felt responsible for his brother’s death.  Here is an extract from his book “Up to Mametz: “It was nearing dusk when Taylor came up to me. 'I want to have a word with you,' he said, drawing me away. 'I’ve got bad news for you…' 'What’s happened to my young brother… is he hit?' 'You know the last message you sent out to try and stop the barrage… well, he was one of the runners that took it. He hasn’t come back… He got his message through all right, and on his way back through the barrage he was hit. His mate was wounded by the shell that killed your brother ... he told another runner to tell us.' 

'My God ... he's lying out there now, Taylor!…' 'No, old man ... he’s gone.' ... So I had sent him to his death, bearing a message from my own hand, in an endeavour to save other men’s brothers; three thoughts that followed one another in unending sequence, a wheel revolving within my brain … “. 

“Mametz Wood, commemorating the Welsh during the Battle of the Somme July 1916” is a painting by Welsh artist Christopher David Williams RBA (7 January 1873 – 1934).

The Red Dragon Memorial to the Welsh at Mametz Wood 

The memorial, designed by Welsh sculptor David Petersen, was unveiled in 1987. 

A Welsh red dragon on top of a three-metre stone plinth faces the wood, tearing at barbed wire. It was commissioned by the South Wales Branch of the Western Front Association following a public funding-raising appeal.

The memorial is located near the site of the engagement in northern France. It can be reached from the village of Mametz on the D64 road.

The Welsh Dragon (Welsh: Y Ddraig Goch, meaning the red dragon, pronounced [ə ˈðraiɡ ˈɡoːχ]), is a heraldic symbol featured on the national flag of Wales.

*NOTE: The Royal Welch Fusiliers (In Welsh: Ffiwsilwyr Brenhinol Cymreig) - a line infantry regiment of the British Army and part of the Prince of Wales' Division - was founded in 1689 shortly after the Glorious Revolution. In 1702, it was designated a fusilier regiment and became The Welch Regiment of Fusiliers; the prefix "Royal" was added in 1713, then confirmed in 1714 when George I named it The Prince of Wales's Own Royal Regiment of Welsh Fusiliers. After the 1751 reforms that standardised the naming and numbering of regiments, it became the 23rd Foot (Royal Welsh Fuzileers).  After the 1881 Childers Reforms, Ithe Regiment’s official title was The Royal Welsh Fusiliers, but "Welch" continued to be used informally until restored in 1920 by Army Order No.56.

The Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum is in Caernarfon Castle in Caernarfon, Gwynedd, North Wales. To find out more and book a visit please visit their website https://www.rwfmuseum.org.uk/index.php

“The Barren Tree”, published by Penmark, Cardiff in 1945 
Find my Past 

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Llewelyn Wyn Griffith CBE (1890 – 1977) – Welsh Civil Servant, writer, translator and poet

With grateful thanks to Nick Lock of the Royal Welch Fusiliers

Museum for his help in finding information and poems by Llewelyn Wyn Gfiffith

Llewelyn was born on 30th August 1890 in Llandrillo yn Rhos, Clwyd, Wales.  His parents were John Griffith, a secondary school teacher, and his wife Dorothy Griffith, nee Jones.  Llewelyn had the following siblings: Alun E. Griffith, b. 1893, Dorothy M. Griffith, b. 1895 and Watcyn Emil Owen Griffith, b. 1897.

During the First World War, Llewelyn served in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers*, initially as a Second Lieutenant and later as a Captain, with the 15th (1st London Welsh) Battalion.  In early 1915, he married Winifred E. Frimston in Toxteth Park, Liverpool.  

Llewelyn's youngest sibling - Watcyn - joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers as a Private and served on the Western Front with the 17th Battalion.  He was killed on 10th July 1916 and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial in France, Pier and Face 4A.  

After the war Llewelyn worked for the Inland Revnue as a tax inspector. He became a well-known broadcaster – he was a founding member of the Round Britain Quiz team – and when he retired, he became vice chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain.  Llewelyn was appointed CBE in the 1961 Birthday Honours. He died on 27th September 1977.

Llewelyn’s WW1 poetry Collection “The Barren Tree” was published by Penmark, Cardiff in 1945 and he had poems published in three WW1 anthologies.

He also wrote “Up to Mametz” (1930), “Spring of Youth” (1935), “The Wooden Spoon” (1937),  “The Way Lies West” (1945), “The Welsh” (1950) and “The Adventures of Pryderi” (1962).

“If there be Time” by Llewelyn Wyn Griffith

If there be time enough before the slaughter

let us consider our heritage

of wisdom, remembering the coil of laughter

girdled our youth, wine of bright vintage

carrying short sorrows into oblivion;

some talk of love in smooth meadows

where dusk brings quiet and night a vision

of daylight joys freed from their shadows.

Above all, wisdom:  for years are shrinking

into a huddle of days and the world a parish

where neighbours bolt their doors and lights are dimming.

Soon there will be nothing left for us to cherish

but the grave words of the last statesmen.

before the battle starts and the air is darkened:

fast fall the night upon the frightened children

and on the wombs where once they quickened.

What towered land of amn’s endeavour

will first be desert, with all our learning

a burnt page trodden in the dust of error?

Farewell to wisdom and to all remembring.

From: "Poetry 1900 - 2000:  One hundred poets from Wales", Edited by Meic Stephens (parthian, Cardigan, Wales, 2007, reprinted 2016)  p. 19 

*NOTE: The Royal Welch Fusiliers (In Welsh: Ffiwsilwyr Brenhinol Cymreig) was a line infantry regiment of the British Army and part of the Prince of Wales' Division, founded in 1689 shortly after the Glorious Revolution. In 1702, it was designated a fusilier regiment and became The Welch Regiment of Fusiliers; the prefix "Royal" was added in 1713, then confirmed in 1714 when George I named it The Prince of Wales's Own Royal Regiment of Welsh Fusiliers. After the 1751 reforms that standardised the naming and numbering of regiments, it became the 23rd Foot (Royal Welsh Fuzileers).   *After the 1881 Childers Reforms, Ithe Regiment’s official title was The Royal Welsh Fusiliers, but "Welch" continued to be used informally until restored in 1920 by Army Order No.56.

Nick Lock tells us "Llewelyn Wyn Griffith served in the 15th (1st London Welsh) Battalion, RWF. Quite a literary Battalion with David Jones (Poet and Artist) and Hedd Wyn, as well as a couple of other writers."


https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ppf0CQAAQBAJ&pg=PA18&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false     pp 19 – 20

Find my Past, Free BMD, National Archives,

Catherine W. Reilly, “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 150


"Poetry 1900 - 2000:  One hundred poets from Wales", Edited by Meic Stephens (parthian, Cardigan, Wales, 2007, reprinted 2016)

The Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum is in Canaervon Castle, Canaervon, Wales. To find out more and book a visit please visit their website https://www.rwfmuseum.org.uk/index.php

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

William Kersley Holmes - pen name ‘W. K. H.’ - (1882 - 1966) – WW1 soldier poet, writer and artist

With thanks to Dr Connie Ruzich for reminding me that I had not yet researched William 


William Kersley Holmes was born in Kings Norton, Worcestershire UK in 1882 – the birth being registered in the third quarter of the year – i.e. July/August/September.   His parents were William Charles Holmes, and his wife, Amy Eleanor Holmes, nee Kersley. William had the following siblings: Geoffrey M.K. Holmes, b. 1878, Robert K. Holmes, b. 1880, and Olive K. Holmes, b. 1881.   

The family moved to Scotland when William was little and went to live in Dollar, Clackmannshire.  Educated at Dollar Academy, William worked in a bank until the First World War began, when he joined the Lothian and Borders Horse Regiment as a Lance-Corporal. He saw action in France and Belgium, before being transferred to the Royal Field Artillery and promoted to the rank of Second  Lieutenant.  

He joined General Dunsterville's Dunsteforce Expedition to Russia in 1917.  Throughout the war, William kept a diary in which he sketched all aspects of army life. Descriptions of life in the trenches also appeared in his poetry.  Williams’s WW1 collections were:

“Ballads of Field and Billet” (Gardner, Paisley, 1915) – which was published in four editions - “More Ballads of Field and Billet, and other verses” (Gardner, Paisley, 1915),  “In the open: verses! (Gowans & Gray, 1925), and “The life I love: verses” (Blackie, 1958).  He also had poems published in four WW1 Poetry Anthologies.

After the war his writing led him into journalism and then publishing – he worked as editor for children’s books with Blackie & Son, creating much of the content of the Blackie’s boys’ and girls’ annuals and contributing many children’s stories to BBC radio. Hundreds of pieces of light verse signed ‘W. K. H.’ were published in Scottish magazines and newspapers, and in national publications such as “Punch”, and “Country Life”.  William’s hobby was hill-walking, which inspired “Tramping Scottish Hills”, published in 1947 and “On Scottish Hills”, published in 1962, both illustrated with photographs he took.

William died on 7th August 1966 in Alloa, Scotland after a brief illness and was buried in Dollar Churchyard.

“The Neutral” by William Kersley Holmes

A haze of dust floats up from marching feet

Along our homely roads;

Great waggons clatter down the sleepy street

With unfamiliar loads.

The little town, so quiet as it stirred

In languorous morning haze,

By ringing bugles, lately still unheard,

Now regulates its days.

In quiet meadows towns of tents arise,

Where peace was wont to brood;

The mutterings of world-wide war surprise

The heart of solitude.

War, like a restless fever, haunts the air,

Changing the world we knew;

The men we are forget the men we were

In all we think and do.

And yet, impartial, patient, as of yore,

Life wakes the hidden seed;

Of who will reap or who will reap no more

Wise nature takes no heed.

from “More ballads of field and billet, and other verses” (Paisley : Alexander Gardner, 1915)

Sources:  Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) pp. 1,4, 5,24 and 172;

Affleck Grey “The Big Grey Man of Ben Macdhui” (Birlin, Ltd. Edinburgh, 2012)


Find my Past, Free BMD  and


For more information about William, and an appreciation of one of his poems, please see Dr. Connie Ruzich’s website Behind Their Lines https://behindtheirlines.blogspot.com/2017/08/eating-chip-potatoes.html

Connie has also compiled a commemorative WW1 poetry anthology  -  “International Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology of Lost Voices” 

Saturday, 12 June 2021

Book Review: “Welsh Poetry Music and Metres” by Howard Huws (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Llanrwst, Wales, 2017)

As the title implies, this wonderful book explains the origins, history and intricacies of the various forms of Welsh poetry.   There is a chapter on Welsh poets of the First World War, as well as the Aftermath.   To my mind, Welsh poetry is a very important part of the poetic cultural heritage of the British Isles.

This book is fantastic – it is a must read for all poetry lovers.

For an example of the poetry form Cywydd please see the post about Dafydd Ellis of 2 June 2021 http://forgottenpoetsofww1.blogspot.com/2021/06/dafydd-david-dai-ellis-1893-1918-welsh.html

Lucy London, June 2021

Friday, 11 June 2021

Sir Edward de Stein (E.D.S. E.De S.) The Trench Bard (1887 - 1965) – WW1 soldier poet and merchant banker

Edward Adolphe Sinauer de Stein was born in London, UK at 9 Palace Gate on 16th June 1887, the eldest of three children born to Clara Annie (d. 1927), daughter of Baron de Stein of Antwerp, and her husband, Sigmund Sinauer (d. 1911), a merchant, who adopted his wife's surname and was known as Sinauer de Stein. Educated at Eton and Magdalen College Oxford, Edward was commissioned into the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and served in France during the First World War.   He wrote several war-themes poems which were published in “The Times” newspaper and “Punch” and “The Bystander” magazines.  He was promoted to the rank of Major.

The elder of Edward's sisters married Herwald Ramsbotham, later first Viscount Soulbury, politician and governor-general of Ceylon. His younger sister kept house for him all their adult lives.   He was knighted in 1946.

Edward de Stein's WW1 poetry collection was entitled 
“The Poets in Picardy, and other poems (Murray, 1919) 92 pages.

His poems were published in ten WW1 poetry anthologies.

To a Skylark Behind Our Trenches
by Sir Edward De Stein

Thou little voice! Thou happy sprite,
How didst thou gain the air and light—
That sing'st so merrily?
How could such little wings
Give thee thy freedom from these dense
And fetid tombs—these burrows whence
We peer like frightened things?
In the free sky
Thou sail'st while here we crawl and creep
And fight and sleep
And die.

How canst thou sing while Nature lies
Bleeding and torn beneath thine eyes,
And the foul breath
Of rank decay hangs like a shroud
Over the fields the shell hath ploughed?
How canst thou sing, so gay and glad,
Whilst all the heavens are filled with death
And all the world is mad?

Yet sing! For at thy song
The tall trees stand up straight and strong
And stretch their twisted arms.
And smoke ascends from pleasant farms
And the shy flowers their odours give.
Once more the riven pastures smile,
And for a while
We live.

Edward de Stein, France, May, 1916.

Lindisfarne Castle was sold to Sir Edward de Stein. In 1944 he gave the castle to the National Trust and he remained its tenant until he died in 1965. His sister Gladys took over the tenancy until she died in 1968.


Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978), p. 110. 

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Harold Anthony Adelsberg (1884 – 1964) – British WW1 soldier poet and lithographer - Guest Post by Historian Debbie Cameron

 A post by Historian Debbie Cameron who has been very supportive of this project since it began in 2012.   Debbie has written and published numerous articles about the First World War and has a Facebook Group - Remembering British women In WW1 -The Home Front & Overseas


– where you will find further information about Nurse Phyllis Haviland and her autograph book

A poem written by a young soldier while he was wounded and recovering in  hospital in Chelsea, London, in a WW1 nurse's autograph book by Harold Anthony Adelsberg. 

Harold was born on 29/1/1884 in Liverpool, Lancashire, UK. He was one of 13 siblings (3 of whom died) born to Johannes Karl Adelsberg, a printer/compositor, and his wife, Jane, nee Hughes. Educated at Clint Road Council Schooll, Edge Hill, Harold followed his father into the lithography trade and on the 1901 Census was apprenticed to a Lithographer.  This was his occupation on the 1911 census and 1939. 

Harold enlisted on 22nd September 1914 and joined the King’s Liverpool Regiment as a Private.  He must have been injured in 1916, as that is the date on his poem. He was later transferred to the Labour Corps.  (I think due to being unfit for overseas service as he received the silver badge).  He married Mabel Cecilia Jeal in West Derby in October 1918. Harold died 1964.

Like his Father, Harold Adelsberg was a lithographer, so I wonder if that's why the poem he contributed to Phyllis Haviland’s authograph book is so beautifully presented. 


The Autograph Book belonged to Phyllis Haviland, who worked as a nurse throughout the Great War. The images on the website are pages from her autograph book, in which she allowed wounded soldiers to draw sketches and write poetry. I believe she is the nurse photographed with her patients The  book contains sketches and poetry. While most of the content seems to relate to the time when she worked at St Marks Hospital in Chelsea, London, she may have moved to a hospital in St Albans later in the War. One or two of the later notes may have been made there.




Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Dafydd (David) ‘Dai’ Ellis (1893 – 1918) – Welsh poet and WW1 medic

With thanks to Sheila and Jim Maxwell of the Harlech Old Library and Institute for telling me about Dafydd, and to Clive Hughes of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum for information and for his wonderful translation of the poem, to Keith Edmonds and Robin Braysher of the Salonika Campaign Society and to Nick Lock and Al Pool of the RWF Museum for additional information about Dafydd.

Daftdd was born in 1893. His parents were Thomas and Elizabeth Ellis.  Dafydd was their second child of five children, and their eldest son.  He grew up on Penyfed, the family farm, which his father leased as a tenant farmer from Colonel Mainwaring, on whose estate it was situated.

In 1913, Dafydd graduated from the University College of North Wales with a BA Hons in Welsh.  While at university, he met Albert Evans, who became famous as the Welsh poet whose Bardic name was Cynan and who later became the Archdruid of Wales.  They became friends and joined the Welsh Student Company of the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) together. Posted  to Salonika, they were separated for the first time in four years and served in different units.

Private David Ellis 81871

Enlisted RAMC 11.12.1915

Mobilised 29.1.1916

Embarked for Salonika 10.9.1916

Posted to 36 General Hospital 29.9.1916

Missing on or since 15.6.1918.

By all accounts, Dafydd was a prolific writer. For instance, we are told that he wrote an elegy to David Jones, nicknamed 'Dei Llwyn Cwbl', son of Robert and Margaret Jones of Llwyn Cwbl farm, Llangwm, Uwchaled.  Jones, who was a talented harpist, was killed serving in WW1 with 1st Battalion, the Welsh Guards (Private, no. 2101) in France.  He died of his wounds on 7th January 1917. Dafydd Ellis wrote:    

“Brwd alaw ei bêr delyn - ddistawodd ys tywyll ei fwthyn. Hyd erwau gloes - drwy y glyn Aeth o ymdaith a'i emyn.” 

Rough translation: 

The fervent song of his sweet harp is silent; 

his cottage is in darkness; 

through the aching acres - through the valley he went, 

leaving his sojourn and his hymn.

On 15th June 1918, Dafydd disappeared from a British Forces camp a few miles north of Salonica.  His body was never recovered but he is remembered on the Addenda Panel of the Doiran Memorial in Salonika, Greece. Dafydd Ellis e is also remembered on the WW1 Remembrance plaque in Soar Congregational Chapel in  Glyndwr, Maerdy, Clwyd, Wales.

In 1946, Dafydd's friend Cynan published a piece of ‘romantic fiction’ about his friend’s disappearance.  Entitled "Y Ffarwel Weledig”, it was a veiled attempt to outline Ellis’s possible escape to a life amongst the local people - the Vlachs - as told to Cynan in a letter from a fictitious Welsh soldier serving in Macedonia during the Second World War.

Article from "Mosquite", the Magazine of
the Salonika Campaign Society, 1954

Clive Hughes of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum tells us “ There’s a biography of him by Alan Llwyd and Elwyn Edwards – “Y Bardd A Gollwyd:  Cofiant David Ellis”  (164 pp) (Cyhoeddiadau Barddas, 1992).  It's in Welsh, but interestingly doesn't refer to him by any other than the English forename.

Here is one of Dafydd Ellis's poems in Welsh:

Cywydd Gyrru’r Eryr i Gymru

(yn ôl Dafydd ap Gwilym)

A threm a lledrith yr ha’

Hyd anial Macedonia,

A’r fagnel ar dawelu

Ar y bryn ei rhaib a’i rhu,

Eryr uchel a welem,

Rhugl ei dro, gloyw o drem,

Ac iddo fo yn y fan

Roi chwithig annerch weithian.


Yn llawen gyda lliwiau

Drud y wawr, ehed eryr

Draw ymhell hyd erwau myr.

Gad oror losg y dwyrain

Gad y rhos ar frig y drain;

Hwnt i olwg Italia

A golud rhwysg Gwlad yr Ha’;

Anwyldeb y Canoldir

A’r tes yn goreuro’r tir. 

Yna trwy .........

Anialdiroedd, ffriddoedd Ffrainc,

Lle nad oes llwyni dail

Na dedwydd hyfryd adail,

Na thirioniaeth rhianedd

Ond cur y byd---eco’r bedd.


Ar ei hyd; taria wedyn

Ar lawr glas Parlwr y Glyn.

Yno mae hoen ‘y mywyd,

Ac yno mae, gwyn y myd,

Ardal hyfryd Rhyd Lefrith,

A’r dydd ar y bronnydd brith.

Dafydd Ellis

(o’i lyfryn yn Salonica)

Poem sent to me by Sheila and Jim Maxwell of Harlech Old Library and Institute, Wales

Here is a wonderful translation of the poem kindly done for us by Clive Hughes from Bangor, Gwynedd - I can visualise Dafydd seeing the eagle and wanting to send it soaring through the sky over to his home in Wales from Macedonia across the war zones

“The Cywydd* of Sending the Eagle to Wales” (A Cywydd is a Welsh poetry form see below)
(after Welsh Medieval poet Dafydd ab Gwilym)

With the appearance and illusion of Summer
Across fruitless Macedonia,
And the cannon ceasing
On the hill it's ravaging roar,
A high eagle we saw,
Fluent its turn, gleaming its look,
And to him on the spot
Now give him strange greeting.

Happy in costly 
Colours of dawn, soars an eagle
Away yonder across myriad acres.
Leaves the burnt border of the east
Leaves the rose on brier branch;
Away to sight of Italy
And the costly pomp of the Summer Country..
The belovedness of the Middle lands,
And the sunshine gilding the land. 

Then through...
Desert regions, the pastures of France,
Where are no leafy groves
Nor charming lovely building,
Nor tender speech of maiden
But the world's ache - the grave's echo.

On he flies, then tarries
On the green floor of Parlwr y Glyn.
There is my life's energy,
And there is, blessed am I,
The lovely district of Rhyd Lefrith,
 And the day on the speckled hill-breasts.

Dafydd Ellis
(from the notebook he had with him in Salonica)

* NOTE: A Cywydd is one of the most important metrical forms in traditional Welsh poetry (cerdd dafod).  There are a variety of forms of the cywydd, but the word on its own is generally used to refer to the cywydd deuair hirion ("long-lined couplet") as it is by far the most common type. The cywydd consists of a series of seven-syllable lines in rhyming couplets, with all lines written in cynghanedd. One of the lines must finish with a stressed syllable, while the other must finish with an unstressed syllable. The rhyme may vary from couplet to couplet, or may remain the same. There is no rule about how many couplets there must be in a cywydd.

The first recorded examples of the cywydd date from the early 14th century. This was the favourite metre of the Poets of the Nobility, the poets working from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries, and it is still used today.

The cywydd deuair hirion and the related cywydd deuair fyrion, cywydd llosgyrnog and the awdl-gywydd all occur in the list of the twenty four traditional Welsh poetic meters adopted in the later Middle Ages.

Source:  Wikipedia

Other Sources:  

Article by Cledwyn Fychan on the website for the Society Farsarotul




Photograph of Dafydd from https://www.farsarotul.org/nl21_6.htm

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

George Herbert Clarke (1873 - 1953) - Canadian poet and academic, Professor of English at the University of Tennessee

Born on 17th August 1873, George Herbert Clarke was a Canadian poet and academic. He attended McMaster University, graduating with a B.A. in 1891 and an M.A. in 1896. He served as a Professor at Mercier University, Georgia, (1901-1905), Peabody College, Tennessee (1908-11), and the University of Tennessee and University of the South until 1925. From 1925 he was head of the English Department at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario and editor-in-chief of Queen's Quarterly in 1944, and held that position until his death. 

In 1937 Clarke's poem "Hymn to the Spirit Eternal" was awarded a gold medal by the Governor-General for best poem appearing in the Canadian Authors Association literary magazine, Canadian Poetry, during 1936. Clarke received an LL.D. from McMaster in 1923, an LL.D. from Queen's in 1943, and a D.C.L. from Bishop's University in 1944. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1930, and was awarded the Society's Lorne Pierce Medal in 1943.

George Herbert Clarke was an editor of the "Sewanee Review", edited the WW1 Anthology  “A Treasury of War Poetry” which was published in 1917 and also wrote “Intermediate French Grammar: With Outlines of Historical Accidence” - George Herbert ClarkeL. R. Tanquerey (E.P. Dutton & Co., Jan 1903). A collection of his own poems was published in 1954.

“A Treasury of War Poetry” is available to read as a free download from Archive:


“The Sewanee Review” is an American literary magazine established in 1892. It is the oldest continuously published quarterly in the United States and publishes original fiction and poetry, essays, reviews, and literary criticism.

 “The Virgin Of Albert”

Shyly expectant, gazing up at Her,

They linger, Gaul and Briton, side by side:

Death they know well, for daily have they died,

Spending their boyhood ever bravelier;

They wait: here is not priest or chorister,

Birds skirt the stricken tower, terrified;

Desolate, empty, is the Eastertide,

Yet still they wait, watching the Babe and Her.

Broken, the Mother stoops: the brutish foe

Hurled with dull hate his bolts, and down

She swayed, Down, till she saw the toiling swarms below, —

Platoons, guns, transports, endlessly arrayed:

"Women are woe for them! let Me be theirs,

And comfort them, and hearken all their prayers.!"

Source:  https://allpoetry.com/The-Virgin-Of-Albert

Postcard of the Virgin of Albert

A poem written by James Kirk during WW1

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for finding this poem written by James Kirk and entitled “In Memory Of Private Charles Sloan HLI Old Monkland, Died Of Wounds August 1916”  - typed on white paper 

Museum reference: NLC-2013-33 Date:  8.1916

Poem by: James Kirk  Place Made: Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Scotland.

On display: In Storage: Museums

Associated with:

1915 · 12th Service Battallion Highland Light Infantry · Sloan, Charles · 11 Rosepark Cottage, Coatbridge · See also the book "Coatbridge and the Great War" by Robert Corrins, Page 143 and NLC-2013-0031.