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Sligo Champion 28 August 1915


By Mr. J. F. Cunningham, Barrister-at-Law.

War Poetry.

The war has produced a voluminous crop of poetry, and The Times has issued an illustrated supplement of 16 pages containing the pick of the poems. There is not much merit in the collection, but I venture to give a few extracts:


Thy mirth lay aside,
Thy cavil and play;
The foe is upon thee,
And grave is the day.

Through fire, air, and water
Thy trial must be;
But they that love life best
Die gladly for thee.

The love of the mothers
Is strong to command;
The fame of their fathers
Is might to command.

[from Wake Up, England by Poet Laureate, Robert Bridges.]


In our heart of hearts believing
Victory crowns the just,
And that braggards must
Surely bite the dust,
March we to the field ungrieving.
In our heart of hearts believing
Victory crowns the just.

[from Thomas Hardy – Men Who March Away -. Published in the Times Literary Supplement on 9 September, 1914 as Song of the Soldiers: just a month after the beginning of the war.]


No easy hopes or lies
Shall bring 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 fall?
Who dies if Britain live?

[from Kipling’s For All we Have and Are. It was first published in The Times on 2 September 1914, a month after the outbreak of The First World War.]


They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables at home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond Britain’s foam.

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end they remain.

[For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon (1869-1943), published in The Times 21 September 1914.]

The London Times published the supplement War Poems from the Times on 10 August 1915. It contained poems which had been published in the newspaper since the outbreak of war.

J. F. Cunningham, the London Barrister-at-Law who wrote the regular London Notes in the Sligo Champion, usually concentrated on the politics of Westminster but regularly included some poetry in his column in 1915. As can be seen from these extracts he didn't think much of such poetry and didn't even give the authors of the extracts he chose. The notes in square brackets are mine.

Cunningham, a native of Bunninadden, County Sligo, also wrote poetry himself and sometimes included it in his London Notes column. See this page.

Below: The Into Battle page from the publication.


The thundering line of battle stands,
And in the air death moans and sings,
But Day shall clasp him with strong hands,
And Night shall fold him in soft wings.

Shadow by shadow, stripped for fight,
The lean black cruisers search the sea,
Night-long their level shafts of light
Revolve and find no enemy.

[from Into Battle by Julian Grenfell. It was first published in The Times the day after Grenfell’s death, 27 May 1915.]


Troops to old Britain true,
Faring to Flanders,
God be with all of you,
And your commanders.

Clear be the sky o’erhead,
Light be the landings;
Not till the work is sped
Be your disbanding.

On the old battleground
Where fought your fathers,
Faithful shall you be found
When the storm gathers.

Troops to old Britain true,
And your commanders,
God be with all of you
Fighting in Flanders.

[from C. W. BRODRIBB: Expeditional]

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