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Thought for the day - January 29, 2000

katlaughing 29 Jan 00 - 12:26 AM
Amos 29 Jan 00 - 01:16 AM
McGrath of Harlow 29 Jan 00 - 08:22 PM
katlaughing 29 Jan 00 - 08:41 PM
McGrath of Harlow 30 Jan 00 - 01:06 PM
katlaughing 30 Jan 00 - 01:13 PM
GUEST,katlaughing 05 Nov 01 - 05:21 PM
Keith A of Hertford 05 Nov 01 - 06:55 PM
GUEST,McGrath of Harlow 05 Nov 01 - 09:22 PM
Keith A of Hertford 07 Nov 01 - 01:09 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Nov 01 - 03:17 PM
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Subject: Thought for the day - January 29, 2000
From: katlaughing
Date: 29 Jan 00 - 12:26 AM

"War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off."

- Karl Kraus -

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Subject: RE: Thought for the day - January 29, 2000
From: Amos
Date: 29 Jan 00 - 01:16 AM

War, according to Clausewitz, has the whole purpose of "bringing about a more amenable frame of mind on the part of the enemy". And any folkie knows six ways to do that without cutting, shooting, gassing or bombing anyone! What's UP with that??


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Subject: Lyr Add: DANCING AT WHITSUN (Austin John Marshall)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Jan 00 - 08:22 PM

But it does take people's mind off other things don't it? Both public people, and private people too.

One of the most powerful songs about war I know, especially for folk singers and musicians and dancers, is "Dancing at Whitsun", which is in the DT. A little time ago there was a thread about songs that you couldn't sing because you crack up while doing so, and this is one - the line "Marched husbands and brothers (or lovers) and fathers and sons", I can never get past safely.

(words by Austin John Marshall, tune trad. "The False Bride")
As sung by Shirley Collins

It's fifty-one springtimes since she was a bride,
But still you may see her at each Whitsuntide
In a dress of white linen and ribbons of green,
As green as her mem'ries of loving.

The feet that were nimble tread carefully now,
As gentle a measure as age do allow,
Through groves of white blossom, by fields of young corn,
Where once she was pledged to her true love.

The fields they are empty, the hedges grow free,
No young men to tend them, or pastures go see.
They've gone where the forests of oak trees before
Had gone to be wasted in battle.

Down from their green farmlands and from their loved ones
Marched husbands and brothers and fathers and sons.
There's a fine roll of honour where the Maypole once was,
And the ladies go dancing at Whitsun.

There's a row of straight houses in these latter days
Are covering the Downs where the sheep used to graze.
There's a field of red poppies, a wreath from the Queen,
But the ladies remember at Whitsun,
And the ladies go dancing at Whitsun.

Austin John Marshall wrote back in the 60s: "Many of the old ladies who swell the membership lists of Country Dance Societies are 1914-18 war widows, or ladies who lost fiancees and lovers. Country dancing kept the memory of their young men alive. When Shirley Collins started singing the piece to the tune of The False Bride, the impact was disturbing, for many people in the audience identified with it. Tears were frequent."

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Subject: RE: Thought for the day - January 29, 2000
From: katlaughing
Date: 29 Jan 00 - 08:41 PM

Thank you for posting that, Kevin. There would be no way I could get all the way through that. I knew a neighbour wonce who remembered the draft of the 60's with fear and moved to the deep wilds of Alaska to keep her son safe. I know with each year my son added to his age, I felt safer about him. Now of course we don't have the draft, but I am sure they'd have no compunctions about bringing it on again.


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Subject: RE: Thought for the day - January 29, 2000
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Jan 00 - 01:06 PM

No draft as such - but poverty does the trick well enough, and at the same time it avoids antagonising people with power. Neat trick.

Last verse of Pick up a Gun by Ralph McTell, who joined the army at 15, but his parents scraped together the money to buy him out


Old soldiers never die, they only fade away,
But the young ones do not die, no they are cut down instead
And someone pulled the trigger,gave the order, held the sword,
and someone wrote the advert in the paper that they read.
Thy will be done,
But you won't get your hands on my son,
you can wait till kingdom come.

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Subject: RE: Thought for the day - January 29, 2000
From: katlaughing
Date: 30 Jan 00 - 01:13 PM

Whew! Thanks, again! And, you are absolutely right, poverty does it right well.

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Subject: RE: Thought for the day - January 29, 2000
From: GUEST,katlaughing
Date: 05 Nov 01 - 05:21 PM

refreshing for its relevance and Kevin's excellent postings

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Subject: RE: Thought for the day - January 29, 2000
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 05 Nov 01 - 06:55 PM

Yes, but thank God for those who listed for soldiers to put an end to Hitler's mad dreams, the Kaiser' cruel empire, Napolean's evil plans , and the the Taliban's monstrous schemes.
When I do Dancing At Whitsun I sing "In Novenber there are poppies and a wreath from the Queen..."
Here in the UK we call the closest Sunday to Armistice Day Remembrance Day, and all wear poppies sold to help ex servicemen'charities.

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Subject: RE: Thought for the day - January 29, 2000
From: GUEST,McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Nov 01 - 09:22 PM

Not too sure about Napoleon. Not much to choose in that war. Whoever won, most people lost. And it's hard to imagine that on balance the defeat of the Kaiser's Germany was worth the nightmare of the rest of the 20th Century that the war unleashed, even aside from the horrors of the war itself. (And they are still going on into a new century.)

The best time to fight wars is before they begin. Once they come it's just damage limitation, whatever you do.

Here's a poem by one of the lesser known First World War poets, Geoffrey Dearmer who died in 1996 at the age of 103.

Night held me as I scrawled and scrambled near
The Turkish lines. Above the mocking stars
Silvered the curving parapet, and clear
Cloud latticed beams o'erflecked the land with bars;
I crouching flat between
Tense-listening armies, peering through the night,
Twin giants bound by tentacles unseen.
Here in dim-shadowed light
I saw him, as a sudden movement turned
His eyes towards me, glowing eyes that burned
A moment ere his snuffling muzzle found
My trail; and then as serpents mesmerise
He chained me with those unrelenting eyes,
That muscle sliding rhythm, knit and bound
In spare limbed symmetry,those perfect jaws
And soft-approaching pitter-patter paws
Nearer and nearer like a wolf he crept -
That moment had my swift revolver leapt -
But terror seized me, terror born of shame
Brought flooding revelation. For he came
As one who offers comradeship deserved,
An open ally of the human race,
And sniffing at my prostrate form unnerved
He licked my face!

And here is a note about him from Time Magazine in 1996: DIED. GEOFFREY DEARMER, 103, Britain's last surviving World War I soldier-poet; in Kent. Despite losing his mother and brother to the war and experiencing the brutality of battle in Gallipoli and on the Western Front, Dearmer exhibited none of the bitter cynicism that marked the work of many other war poets.

Known for being gentle and self-effacing, he published two acclaimed collections after the war. Unable to make a living as a poet, he worked as a government censor and then as an editor for a critically praised BBC radio show. Although his poems were occasionally discovered by younger readers, Dearmer fell into obscurity until his last anthology, A Pilgrim's Song, was released three years ago, on his 100th birthday. Laurence Cotterell, the editor of the collection, said of Dearmer, "Most men in the trenches would have looked down and seen mud swirling around their boots, but he looked up and saw the stars."

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Subject: RE: Thought for the day - January 29, 2000
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 07 Nov 01 - 01:09 PM

"Oh my name's Napoleon Bonaparte,I'm the conquerer of all nations" In my view, anyone who persues a career of world domination is temperamentally unsuited to be benevolent ruler of said world, and should be resisted.

Not much to choose? The folks of Fishguard at the time would not agree. Part of his invasion force for these Islands landed there and meeting no opposition went on a spree of pillage and destruction.

Young Meg Williams would not agree.She was a serving maid at a farm they looted, who they gang raped and murdered.
They surrendered when they saw what they thought was advancing troops in the distance.Normally it requires real ones!

When Napoleon was stopped by the snows of Russia he bounced back.When stopped by the thin red lines and squares on the Plains of Waterloo he did not.I allow myself to be grateful for their sacrifice.

Your opinion is that "on balance" it was not "worth" resisting the Kaiser's armies as they swept across Europe. Pte William McBride's reply (Stephen L Suffet) is

Ask the people of Belgium or Alsace Lorraine,
If my life was wasted, if I died in vain.
They'll tell you how grateful they were that I'd come,
How welcome this boy with his tin hat and gun.

You did not challenge my view that we owe a debt of gratitude to those who took up arms to oppose Hitler's drive for world domination and multiple genocides. Thanks for that.

Thanks also for the fine poem. It was worthy of the post.

In return I offer you an unknown poet of our own time. A child. One of the children who every year lay flowers on the grave of each of the airborne soldiers who fell at Arnhem in Autumn '44.

(Pieternel Ondeswater)

Long ago he was fighting for me,
I am eleven years old now and I'll thank him
by laying flowers on his grave.
I wish he could say to me "Thank you"

Long ago they all have been fighting for us
though they had nothing to do with us.
They defended our houses.

But near the bridge at Arnhem it was going wrong,
Many of them had been killed and my soldier
was one of the victims.
I wish I could give more "Thank You" flowers.

You gave your life for our freedom
Thank you my soldier.

This Remembrance Sunday, I will add my thanks to those of Pieternel.
Best wishes to you Kevin.
Hope to see you at Buntingford,

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Subject: RE: Thought for the day - January 29, 2000
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Nov 01 - 03:17 PM

Arguing about history can be interesting enough, but there's no answer to it. So far as the Great War goes, it led directly to the Second World War. Directly to Auschwitz and Hiroshima. The Russian Revolution, and the famine in the Ukraine. And so on and so forth. It was a pretty terrible century. That's what I meant by questioning the idea that it might have been worth it.

Pity and admiration yes. But should I feel differently towards those who were slaughtered on one side, say at Waterloo or the Somme, than I do towards those who died on the other side?

In both those wars I can't feel any confidence that history would have been worse if they had gone the other way. The Second World War was different in that respect. Great little poem there.

See you at Buntingford. (Buntingford Winter Sing, at the Crown, Buntingford, Hertfordshire Friday 16th until Sunday 18th November, indoor camping.) Should we start a thread about that maybe?

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