Category Archives: Poetry

Women put on a brave face

 

When waving off their menfolk women put on a brave face, but as these two verses of a poem by Miriam E Gladwell show, many a tear was shed at night in the privacy of their own bedroom:-

You came to me with your eyes ashine

With a soldierly, careless trend

In a khaki uniform so trim

And a new peaked cap on your head

I’m off to the front dear comrade mine and I’m jolly glad to go

But your lips were set in a line so grim

That bode ill for the foe

My fighting blood leaped up in pride

You looked so British, so grand

But my women’s heart was so vaguely stirred

As you heartily shook my hand

Stirred with a pain I struggled to hide

You were marching to glory – or death

And ‘twas only God that night who heard

The tears that were choking my breath

Miriam E Gladwell was a Ramsgate poet, well-known to the concert-going public in the town and district, who had made many successful appearances on the platform as an elocutionist of merit, and was always available for the organisers of charity events. In October 1916 the Thanet Advertiser published a book of her poems called “In War Time,” which was followed by another volume in December 1917. Miriam and her husband Charlie ran the Wellington Hotel in Ramsgate High Street. Her children Vincent and Miriam were the original Bisto kids designed in 1919 by the cartoonist Wilf Owen from Rochester who worked for a time for the East Kent Mercury newspaper.

I haven’t got a feather bed

Thanet Times February 25th 1916

Sgt Wilkinson was formerly an employee of Mr Deveson the butcher in Grange Road. After Sgt Wilkinson died the paper published a poem he had written.

I haven’t got a feather bed
Nor yet a blooming pillow
My overcoat supports my head
My canteen lid’s my mirror

But be a sport and show your pluck
And help God strafe the Kaiser
And if you stop one – well that’s luck
And you’re not much the wiser.

Remember too it doesn’t hurt
You don’t get time to feel it
Supposing that it really did
Just look what’s there to heal it.

The finest hand of nursing girls
That ever drew God’s breath
With snow white frocks and golden hair
And then you talk of death.

Why blimey mate you should be proud
To die with these around you.
Come on, old sport, and join the crowd
And let the doctor sound you.

Its men we want, not girls in plush,
Like some of your poor blighters.
So you should read this and don’t blush
But go and join the fighters.

Doing one’s bit

Tommy’s in the trenches
Fighting kultured Huns
Charging with a bayonet
Or firing heavy guns.

Jack is on the ocean
Waiting – but in vain
Sea-Huns met Jack tar before
They’re not so keen again

Specials here in England
Stroll about at night
Watching for a Zepp or spy
Or some such Hunnish sight

Girls are up and doing
Working hard all day,
Driving motor vans or cars
In quite an English way.

Women sit by firesides
For Jack or Tom to knit.
No matter what our sex is
We’re here to do our bit.

Hilda M Slade

A Casualty

 

You came to me with your eyes ashine
With a soldierly, careless tread.
In a khaki uniform so trim
And a new peaked cap on your head.
“I’m off to the Front, dear comrade mine;
And I’m jolly well glad to go!”
But your lips were set in a line so grim
That boded ill for the foe.

My fighting blood leaped up in pride –
You looked so British, so grand;
But my woman’s heart was vaguely stirred
As you heartily shook my hand –
Stirred with a pain I struggled to hide,
You were marching to glory – or death;
And ‘twas only God that night who heard
The tears that were choking my breath.

To-day, in letters that scorched like flame,
As I read of the toll we have paid-
The reeking horrors, the awful strife,
The crimes that will ne’er from history fade –
There leaped to my anxious eyes your name;
Died, fighting hard, as a soldier should;
Killed as a valiant deed you assayed.
I wept – but I gloried. I understood.

You called me once “Your comrade brave,”
And never, I trust, I’ll belie your thought;
But to-day far away in your nameless grave
Lies all the love that you never sought.
I know that you died for England’s sake.
Maybe – I know not – ‘tis better so.
I do not murmur; but should there break
A heart to-night – only God will know.

Miriam E Gladwell

Thanet Advertiser October 1914

Miriam E Gladwell was a Ramsgate poet, well-known to the concert-going public in the town and district, who had made many successful appearances on the platform as an elocutionist of merit, and was always available for the organisers of charity events. In October 1916 the Thanet Advertiser published a book of her poems called “In War Time,” which was followed by another volume in December 1917.