Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Carols and Kings

Two short Christmas poems from soldier poets killed in the First World War:

British Christmas card, 1917

Lance Sgt H.H. Monro


While shepherds watched their flocks by night
All seated on the ground
A high-explosive shell came down
And mutton rained around.
    —Saki (H.H. Monro)

Hector Hugh Monro (his pen name Saki) is best known for his archly playful short stories. Despite being officially too old to enlist, at the age of 43, he volunteered with the British Army.  On November 14, 1916, while sheltering in a shell crater in No Man’s Land, he was killed by a sniper.  His last words were “Put that bloody cigarette out.”

WWI Christmas car


The Kings of the earth are men of might,
And cities are burned for their delight,
And the skies rain death in the silent night,
And the hills belch death all day!

But the King of Heaven, Who made them all,
Is fair and gentle, and very small;
He lies in the straw, by the oxen’s stall—
Let them think of Him to-day!
            —Joyce Kilmer

American poet Joyce Kilmer is best known for his poem “Trees” (I think that I shall never see/ A poem as lovely as a tree).  He was killed by a sniper at the Second Battle of the Marne on July 30, 1918.
Sgt. Joyce Kilmer

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