As we approach July 17th, the landmark date for the beginning of the Second Battle of the Marne, I thought it appropriate to wrap up the World War I theme. I’ve composed a poem, perhaps from the perspective of the French or British soldiers during the Allied counter offensive of the battle, in which the troops were expected to abandon their trenches and fight a less conventional war (Neiberg 40:10). American reinforcements are now numbering about twenty two to twenty three thousand soldiers a day, giving the French more leeway room for ambitious tactics (Ibid 59:36). My poem gets at the contradictions of the war and hints at future problems that proved all too true in our post world war era. It looks back to the 19th century Christian world for its inspiration of childhood, including the Victorian concept for an imaginative and chivalrous youth. Like Chesterton’s Ballad of the White Horse, it is an attack on Nihilism, although more pertinent to the 20th and 21st centuries. Below are some video tributes.
E. Wesley – Mackinac Center Intern
The Men at the Marne
Leave our trenches and coldly fight
To ascend the world of death and light?
And all because more men as we
Now come from a far country?
The cost of men to save more men;
Which is more costly? None now ken.
To war, from ditch to earth our height;
We fight our act; and act our fight;
The plan from those whose ends are met
Without a thought to cost or debt.
So sacrifice untallied be,
Until by war, from war, we’re free.
What lurked behind clouds of glory,
An endless war; who could foresee?
Only the wise, but they spoke not,
And with sorrow left to their lot
The foolish who’s counsel it was
Within a year to win the cause.
From death, more hard than earth their toil,
They sooner learned to hide in soil.
Now, weeping, wailing it seems,
Pours from the guns that slay the dreams,
Of a generation young but old
Between worlds modern and more bold.
More men, less care; more life, less life,
If ever we win to lose our strife.
But such a world that would arise,
Might wage new war within the skies.
Empire ends. What will next be;
Harder masters or liberty?
Time of troubles, wherein the right
Is just as wrong as wrong is trite;
Where law is law that law is not,
From naught is naught, and naught our lot?
For childhood once more we would
Stand as we stand for truth and good.
A video tribute to the Second Battle of the Marne
This was an earlier battle called Passchendaele, but it has some actual original footage worth watching.
Neiberg, Michael S. The Second Battle of the Marne: The Turning Point of 1918. US Army War College. Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, PA. 20 August 2008. Lecture. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aey6nVhZpcU
Image of General gouraud french army world war i machinegun marne 1918 from Wikipedia
Cross-posted from Landmarks of Liberty