Thursday, January 5, 2017

Killed the First Day of the Somme -- Will Streets -- January 5, 2017

On 01-July-2016, I missed the opportunity to mark the 100th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme.  More British soldiers died on that day than on any other day in history.  I thought to make up for it, I would write about some of the poets who died that day.  There were a lot.

Will Streets served in the Sheffield Pals, first in Egypt, then on the Western Front.  By the time of the Battle of the Somme, he was a sergeant.  On the first day, he was wounded and reported missing.  His body turned up ten months later.  His poems were published later in 1917 in a book, The Undying Splendour.

The image is from the movie The Battle of the Somme.

April Evening: France, 1916. 

0 sweet blue eve that seems so loath to die,
Trailing the sunset glory into night,
Within the soft, cool strangeness of thy light,
My heart doth seem to find its sanctuary.
The day doth verge with all its secret care,
The thrush is lilting Vespers on the thorn ;
In Nature’s inner heart seems to be born
A sweet serenity ; and over there
Within the shadows of the stealing Night,
Beneath the benison of all her stars
Men, stirr’d to passion by relentless Mars,
Laughing at Death, wage an unceasing fight.
The thunder of the guns, the scream of shells
Now seem to rend the placid evening air :
Yet as the night is lit by many a flare
The thrush his love in one wild lyric tells.
O sweet blue eve!  Lingering awhile with thee,
Before the earth with thy sweet dews are wet,
My heart all but thy beauty shall forget
And find itself in thy serenity.

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