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.,_British_and_American_poems_of_the_world_war,_1914-1919/Poets_Militant