Tag Archives: WW1 Poetry

JUST THINKIN’

JUST THINKIN’
Standin’ up here on the fire-step,
Lookin’ ahead in the mist,
With a tin hat over your ivory
And a rifle clutched in your fist;
Waitin’ and watchin’ and wond’rin’
If the Hun’s comin’ over tonight –
Say, ain’t the things you think of
Enough to give you a fright?

Things you ain’t even thought of
For a couple o’ months or more;
Things that ‘ull set you laughin’,
Things that ‘ull make you sore;
Things that you saw in the movies,
Things that you saw on the street,
Things that you’re really proud of,
Things at are – not so sweet.

Debts that are past collectin’,
Stories you hear and forget,
Ball games and birthday parties,
Hours of drill in the wet;
Headlines, recruitin’ posters,
Sunsets’way out at sea,
Evenings of pay days – golly,
It’s a queer thing, this memory!

Faces of pals in Homeburg
Voices of women folk,
Verses you learnt in schooldays,
Pop up in the mist and smoke,
As you stand there, grippin’ that rifle,
A-starin’, and chilled to the bone,
Wonderin’ and wonderin’ and wonderin’,
Just thinkin’ there – all alone!

When will the war be over?
When will the gang break through?
What will the U.S. look like?
What will there be to do?
Where will the Boches be then?
Who will have married Nell?
When’s that relief a-comin’ up?
Gosh! But this thinkin’s hell!
HUDSON HAWLEY, Pvt. MG. Bn.

1918 Yanks publication
Yanks 1918
Hudson Hawley, Pvt. M.G. Bn.

 

DAD’S LETTERS

My dad ain’t just the letter writin’ kind –
He’s rather let the women see to that;
He’s got a mess o’ troubles on his mind,
And likes to keep ‘em underneath his hat.

And p’raps because he isn’t very strong
On talkin’, why, he’s kind o’ weak on ink;
But he can work like sin the whole year long,
And, crickey, how that dad o’ mine can think!

When I set out from Homeville last July,
He didn’t bawl the way my sister did;
He just shook hands and says, “Well, boy, good-bye.”
(He’s got his feelin’s, but he keeps ‘em hid.)

And so when mother writes about the things
That I spend half my time a-thinkin’ of,
There’s one short line that every letter brings;
“Father will write, and meanwhile sends his love.”
“Father will write,” Well, some day p’raps he will –
There’s lots of funny prophecies come true;
But if he just keeps promisin’ to, still,
I’ll understand, and dad’ll know I do.

1918 Yanks poetry
Yanks 1918 – Dad’s Letters

YANKS – Copyright 1918 – FOREWORD

The verses that make up this little book have all been published in THE STARS AND STRIPES, the official newspaper of the American Expeditionary Forces. They have come in from the field, the back areas, the ports; they have been written on the eve of battle; the men who wrote some of them have paid the great price. They are the heart and soul of the American Army in France. It is their only claim to distinction. It is enough.

ON LEARNING FRENCH

YANKS – Copyright 1918 – FOREWORD

“The verses that make up this little book have all been published in THE STARS AND STRIPES, the official newspaper of the American Expeditionary Forces. They have come in from the field, the back areas, the ports; they have been written on the eve of battle; the men who wrote some of them have paid the great price. They are the heart and soul of the American Army in France. It is their only claim to distinction. It is enough.”

Throughout the remainder of November, we will be posting excerpts from this amazing little 100-year-old book that is literally falling to pieces. It is time to share it, rather than just have it sitting on a shelf in a plastic bag. We will eventually make a slide show gallery of photos of all of the pages in the book.

ON LEARNING FRENCH

Like silver bells heard in a mist,
Or moonstone echoes from some brook
Where silver birches wall a nook,
Or like sea ripples moon-lit kissed,

Or like a lake of silver ledges
Where iris water-lilies lave,
Or like some lark’s translucent wave
Of song above white hawthorn hedges,

The maiden ripples French to me;
But I am like an argonaut
In some mute agony of thought,
Lost in sound’s sweet tranquility.

ALFRED J. FRITCHEY, Camp Hospital 30

1918 military poetry
On Learning French
Alfred J. Fritchey, Camp Hospital 30