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Thread: The Poignant Poetry (Historic Aviation Related) Thread

  1. #1
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    The Poignant Poetry (Historic Aviation Related) Thread

    Just came across this.


    Let them in Peter, they are very tired;
    Give them the couches where the Angels sleep.
    Let them wake whole again to new dawns fired
    With sun, not war. And may their peace be deep
    Remember where the broken bodies lie.........
    And give them things they like. Let them make noise.
    God knows how young they were to have to die!
    Give swing bands, not harps, to those our boys.
    Let them love, Peter - they have had no time -
    Girls sweet as meadow wind, with flowering hair.
    They should have trees and bird song, hills to climb -
    The taste of summer in a ripened pear.
    Tell them how they are all missed. Say not to fear;
    It's going to be all right with us down here.

    Anonymous

    (written in POW camp Marlag 1, Germany 1944)

    Moggy
    "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

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    And if that doesn't bring a tear to ones eye I dont know what would!
    Very nice Moggy thanks for sharing!
    Cheers,Peter
    "Merlins always drip oil, when they don't....worry!"

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    Great find ... thank you Moggy
    never fear, Smith is here

  4. #4
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    The poem is also on the back page of "Airfields of the Eighth" Then and Now by the late Roger Freeman.
    Fly with the eagles,or scratch with the chickens.

  5. #5
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    In respect of the other thread regarding the (UK citizen only) petition running for the Campaign Medal for Bomber Command, the following poem sums up some of the nature of the diversity of the contribution from within the UK and outside. Although titled Lancasters, it stands well, I think for all of the Command and the crews of the less well remembered types. Found in Martin Bowman's excellent 'The Royal Air Force at War'.

    Lancasters

    Where are the bombers, the Lancs on the runways,
    Snub-nosed and roaring and black-faced and dour,
    Full up with aircrew and window and ammo
    And dirty great cookies to drop on the Ruhr?

    Where are the pilots, the navs and air-gunners,
    WOP's and bomb-aimers and flight engineers,
    Lads who were bank clerks and milkmen and teachers,
    Carpenters, lawyers, and grocers and peers?

    Geordies and Cockneys and Wiltshire moon-rakers,
    Little dark men from the valleys of Wales,
    Manxmen, Devonians, Midlanders, Scouses,
    Jocks from the Highlands and Tykes from the Dales?

    Where are the Aussies, the sports and the cobbers,
    Talking of cricket and sheilas and grog,
    Flying their Lanes over Hamburg and Stettin
    And back to the Lincolnshire wintertime bog?

    Where are the flyers from Canada's prairies,
    From cities and forests, determined to win,
    Thumbing their noses at Goering's Luftwaffe
    And busily dropping their bombs on Berlin?

    Where are the Poles with their gaiety and sadness,
    All with the most unpronounceable names,
    Silently, ruthlessly flying in vengeance,
    Remembering their homes and their country in flames?

    Where arc the Kiwis who left all the sunshine
    For bleak windy airfields and fenland and dyke,
    Playing wild Mess clinics like high cockalorum,
    And knocking the Hell out of Hitler's Third Reich?

    Where are they now, those young men of all nations,
    Who flew though they knew not what might lie ahead,
    And those who returned with their mission accomplished
    And next night would beat up the Saracen's Head?

    The Lancs are no more, they are part of legend,
    But memory stays bright in the hearts of the men
    Who loved them and flew them through flak and through hellfire
    And, managed to land them in England, again.

    The men who were lucky to live to see victory,
    The men who went home to their jobs and their wives,
    The men who can tell their grandchildren with pride
    Of the bomber which helped to save millions of lives.

    Audrey Grealy
    James K

    Looking and thinking...
    Vintage Aero Writer: Blog & Details

  6. #6
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    Wow ... that's great ... made me think of them in the here and now rather than the past. Thanks James
    never fear, Smith is here

  7. #7
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    I just posted this onto my forum and thought perhaps it appropriate to copy it to here too:

    I recently picked up a copy of the airshow programme booklet for the 1983 RNZAF Base Whenuapai airshow, which was raising money at the time for the RNZAF Museum. The museum's director, Squadron leader John Barry, had the following poem printed next to his article on the museum which explained why an RNZAF museum was necessary.

    The author is unknown to me, it simply says by "R.C.D." so whether he was a kiwi or British I don't know. But I reckon the poem is wonderful, and perhaps has grown more poignant and pertinent now 25 years later. I hope you too enjoy it.

    For those who don't know what the Runnymede Memorial is all about, see here http://www.cwgc.org/search/cemetery_...=109600&mode=1


    REFLECTIONS AT RUNNYMEDE

    Marble file index of stone white panels,
    Number, name, initials clean printed,
    As on visiting cards
    Proffered from the unknown grave.

    Cold, austere, remote, those styles record
    The warm blemished humanity of beings
    Now labelled and deep frozen in time.
    Why am I here, remembering, rather than amongst them?

    Our Flight Commander, Banks; quiet Ronnie Frost,
    He joined with me; young Naylor lost
    In the North Sea. Was he twenty
    When he came into my room and cried

    Like a child the night Geoff Hewitt died
    Leaving a pregnant wife?
    Three weeks later I cleared his room
    And found his Bible by his bed.

    Butler was his pilot, he'd there too.
    Pale, quiet, reserved; who else was in that crew?
    Is that Nicholson from OTU
    Shot down on his first sortie, over Lorient?

    And there is Jack, rear gunner, friend,
    Married five days after me and wed
    Six weeks; then reported "Missing"
    Over Brest. Now presumed dead.

    Why was their promised fruit laid waste,
    As blossom is destroyed in the orchard
    By bullfinches? Did random chance
    Snuff out the Genesis of greatness?

    Seed and pollen, wantonly expended
    In part-payment of debtsincurred by others
    Now they are the creditors.
    Their monuments, promissory notes claiming redemption.

    When we, who survived, are dead, will others comprehend
    The profound meaning behind those inscriptions
    Or, like lexicographers studying ancient tablets,
    Grope merely for an approximate significane?

  8. #8
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    I've changed the title to leave this open as a thread for people to post their favourite bits of relevant poetry on.

    Somebody had better put 'High Flight' here in case there is one reader who doesn't know it.

    Moggy
    "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

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    For Johnny

    I'm not a little surprised that, so far, no-one has made mention of John Pudney's poem 'For Johnny' - particularly having regard to its significance to the film 'The Way to the Stars'. When I was young it was well known. Maybe it's not to modern tastes. So if it's not now known, do let me know and I'll post the poem in its entirety.

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    His place was laid, the messroom clock struck eight,
    No-one commented on his fate, save for a headshake here and there,
    Only old George who'd seen him die,
    Spinning against the autumn sky,
    Leaned forward and turned down his plate.
    And as he did, the sunlight fled,
    As though the sky he loved so mourned her dead.

    About the Battle of Britain, of course. Must be 30 odd years since I first read this in an RAF souvenir book, but it still prickles my silly old eyes. Thank God for those lads. I fear we shall never see their like again.
    Terms & Conditions Apply.

  11. #11
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    The Flight Lieutenant

    I found this one a few years ago. It never fails to bring a tear to my eyes, especially when I am at certain crash sites in the Peak District, or when I hear that a missing airman has been found:


    THE FLIGHT LIEUTENANT


    In the marsh the curlews cry

    Beneath the empty bowl of sky,

    Beneath the sun and flying cloud

    Earth my grave and mud my shroud.

    For forty years I've quietly lain

    In the wreckage of my plane.

    Baled out, they said, or Lost at Sea

    But no-one came in search of me,

    A distant ploughman drives his team,

    And rushes rattle in the stream:

    In summer time the cattle tread

    Heavy-footed overhead.

    Yet somehow in these bones I know

    Man will devise machines that show

    Where metal lies, and he will trace

    My plane in its last resting place

    Then will the lonely waiting cease

    And these tired bones will rest at peace.

    K.D. Clarke
    Last edited by critter592; 21st April 2008 at 11:22.

  12. #12
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    High Flight

    Glad to oblige, Moggy - One of my favourite pieces!


    HIGH FLIGHT


    Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth,
    And danced the skies on laughter- silvered wings;
    Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
    Of sun- split clouds- and done a hundred things
    You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
    High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
    I've chased the shouting wind along and flung
    My eager craft through footless halls of air
    Up, up the long delirious burning blue
    I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
    Where never lark, or even eagle flew-
    And, while silent lifting mind I've trod
    The high unsurpassed sanctity of space,
    Put out my hand and touched the face of God.


    By Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee Jr.
    412 Squadron, RCAF
    K.I.A. 11 December 1941

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    “He was no Galahad, no knight sans peur et sans reproche.
    Sans paur? Fear was the second enemy to beat. He was
    A common, unconsidered man, who, for a moment of eternity
    Held the whole future of mankind in his two sweating palms
    And did not let it go.

    Remember him,
    Not as he is portrayed, but as he was.
    To him you owe the most of what you have and love today.”


    Air Chief Marshall Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris. Died 2003
    James K

    Looking and thinking...
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    To a German Airman
    Who flew slowly through the British Fleet

    Perhaps you knew not what you did,
    That what you did was good,
    Perhaps the head I saw was dead,
    Or blind with its own blood.

    Perhaps the wings you thought you ruled,
    With sky and sea beneath,
    Beat once with love for God above –
    And flew you to your death.

    Perhaps; but I prefer to think
    That something in you, friend,
    No inch would give to land and live,
    But conscious to the end.

    That something in you, like a bird,
    Knowling no cage’s bars,
    Courage supreme – an instant dream
    Of mind beneath the stars

    Misguided, arrogant, or proud,
    But – beyond telling – great,
    Made you defy our fire and fly
    Straight on to meet your fate.

    Steel-capped, we cowered as you went,
    Defiant and alone;
    A noble thing, we watched you wing
    Your way to the unknown

    You passed us, still a mile from death,
    Rocked by the wind of shell;
    We held our breath, until to death
    Magnificent you fell.

    Whatever comet lit your track –
    Contempt, belief or hate –
    You let us see an enemy
    Deliberately great.

    Brian Gallie, DSC, Captain Royal Navy.
    Last edited by Pondskater; 21st April 2008 at 19:54.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by critter592 View Post
    I found this one a few years ago. It never fails to bring a tear to my eyes, especially when I am at certain crash sites in the Peak District, or when I hear that a missing airman has been found:


    THE FLIGHT LIEUTENANT


    In the marsh the curlews cry

    Beneath the empty bowl of sky,

    Beneath the sun and flying cloud

    Earth my grave and mud my shroud.

    For forty years I've quietly lain

    In the wreckage of my plane.

    Baled out, they said, or Lost at Sea

    But no-one came in search of me,

    A distant ploughman drives his team,

    And rushes rattle in the stream:

    In summer time the cattle tread

    Heavy-footed overhead.

    Yet somehow in these bones I know

    Man will devise machines that show

    Where metal lies, and he will trace

    My plane in its last resting place

    Then will the lonely waiting cease

    And these tired bones will rest at peace.

    K.D. Clarke
    Does anyone know when/where this originated and who K D Clarke might be? From the clues contained therein I suspect this might relate to Flt Lt H R A Beresford, lost 7 September 1940. Am I right?
    Editor: 'Britain at War' Magazine

    A 'Key Publishing' product - Britain's Best Selling Military History Monthly

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    The Spit Pilots

    The love of their life,
    Far more than a wife,
    Was passionate, wild and adorin'.
    Her deep-throated purrin',
    Sweet sound of Rolls-Merlin,
    Made pilots lose int'rest in whorin'.

    Her blazing guns spittin’
    In the skies over Britain,
    In the dark days of nineteen and forty,
    Left many Hun pilots
    Still pushing up violets,
    Where they ended their one-way sorties.

    Their gallant ranks thinning,
    Each day's grim beginning,
    To challenge the threat, ever bolder.
    And so many were lost,
    How to reckon the cost
    In brave lads, who'll never grow older?

    With blood, sweat and tears,
    Thru the war's dismal years,
    They gave hope, and defied subjugation.
    And a world built anew,
    Must forget not those few,
    In the Spitfire lore of our nation.

    George Thatcher ©2001
    Who Wants To Live Forever!

  17. #17
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    Good thread. This isn't the best poetry but it makes its point very well to me.

    The Airman Demobbed

    I rode the storm and the lightning
    And raced the gay clouds I flew,
    Dipped under the arch of the rainbow,
    And swung like a star in the blue.

    I slid down the path of the sunbeams,
    And swooped like a gull to the wave,
    I dropped o’er the crest of the mountains,
    Down the streams that the valleys gave.

    Now my feet are leaden and earthbound
    And I know why the caged bird dies,
    For my soul looks out to the blue ways,
    When I dare to look up to the sky.

    Cuthbert Hicks


    The converse of that is the discovery of Flight. It's not poetry but I'm reminded of this quote from JTC Moore-Brabazon in 1910:

    “Don't know too much til you have got up in the air. After this you will feel inclined to take your hat off to every sparrow you see performing feats we can never even hope to imitate”

  18. #18
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    I am not there

    Do not stand at my grave and weep:
    I am not there. I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow.
    I am the diamond glints on snow.
    I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
    I am the gentle autumn rain.
    When you awaken in the morning's hush,
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circled flight.
    I am the soft stars that shine at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry:
    I am not there:I did not die.

    Lance Bombardier Stephen Cummins aged 24 killed by a mine that blew up an armoured car near Londonderry,N Ireland in March 1989.
    Fly with the eagles,or scratch with the chickens.

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