Local War Poems

Research from the Weston (super Mare) Mercury shows a steady stream of poetry, mostly from local poets, demonstrating a strong patriotic fervour.

The most prolific writer was G F Shaw of Axbridge Union Workhouse (we are unsure if he was a member of staff or an inmate) who seems to have a poem published each week so far.

They are topical and tend to reflect the news coverage of the time.  This poem for example, published in October, deals with the Belgian situation.  By then, and following the fall of Antwerp, many refugees were being received in the area, and wounded Belgian soldiers were treated at the Royal West of England Sanatorium on Weston seafront. It is called ‘Belgium’ and comprises five twelve-lined verses; the first and last of which are reproduced here:

Land of the martyred hero

Land of the battle strife,

Land of the sobbing sweetheart,

Land of the waiting wife,

Land of the weeping widow,

Land of the orphaned child,

Land where the Hunnish heathen,

By man and God defiled,

Stripped honour of its meaning

Cast every law aside,

But what an awful gleaning

When once has turned the tide 

Verse two deals with the rightness of the cause, verse three with bravery and endurance and verse four that the whole world is waiting for final triumph.  Verse five concludes the poem:

The soldier in the trenches

The sailor of the sea,

Are waiting for the moment,

To meet thy enemy.

So Belgium!  Europe’s flower,

Tho’ stricken and forlorn,

Earth’s darkest, dreariest hour,

Doth but precede the dawn.

And as the morning sunshine

Lights up the eastern skies,

Ennobled, chastened, honoured,

Triumphant thou shalt rise.

 Keep checking here for more Somerset war poetry.


One thought on “Local War Poems

  1. The 6 January 1917 edition of the Weston Mercury has published a poem without title or name of author but it looks very much as though it is another by G.F. Shaw. Just 8 lines are published: No easy hopes or lies Shall bring us to our goal But iron sacrifice Of body, will and soul. There is but one task for all For each one life to give. Who stands if freedom falls? Who dies if England live?

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