Thursday, 5 November 2009



This is no case of petty right or wrong
That politicians or philosophers
Can judge. I hate not Germans, nor grow hot
With love of Englishmen, to please newspapers.
Beside my hate for one fat patriot
My hatred of the Kaiser is love true: –
A kind of god he is, banging a gong.
But I have not to choose between the two,
Or between justice and injustice. Dinned
With war and argument I read no more
Than in the storm smoking along the wind
Athwart1 the wood. Two witches' cauldrons roar.
From one the weather shall rise clear and gay;
Out of the other an England beautiful
And like her mother that died yesterday.
Little I know or care if, being dull,
I shall miss something that historians
Can rake out of the ashes when perchance2
The phoenix3 broods serene above their ken.
But with the best and meanest Englishmen
I am one in crying, God save England, lest
We lose what never slaves and cattle blessed.
The ages made her that made us from dust:
She is all we know and live by, and we trust
She is good and must endure, loving her so:
And as we love ourselves we hate her foe.

Edward Thomas 26 December, 1915


Dick the Prick said...

Nice. Fuck Blighty and all who sail in her.

Ian said...

Great stuff! Thanks.

Verge said...

"Nor could I make another hear"

The good stuff always holds.

Mothers Ruin said...

Amongst the many tragic stories that we hear,i was troubled by the number of men leaving behind young familys.
I assume that they enlisted as young single men,and in the fullness of time married,had children,and continued in their career,as professionals do.
But,it's one thing to put your life on the line as a young single man,quite another to do so when your commitment to duty could leave your children fatherless.How does one balance that paradox?

call me ishmael said...

It is a point made here, before, Mr Mothers Ruin, a paradox is a paradox, imbalance, or contradiction is its nature and though there are other dangerous occupations none but the armed forces are extant only for the purpose of killing others with the possibility of being killed in return.

It does not further understanding but it is worth remembering that there are two parties to this potentially fatal betrayal. In a time of conscription no blame accrues, with a professional army, however, there are choices and consequences. If a woman wants to minimise the possibility of her children growing fatherless, or with a father ruinously maimed she should not marry a member of HM armed forces, should avoid entering the world of paradox.

There was a similar betrayal from the wretched Paul Burrell - married with children, he claimed repeatedly that when the Loony Princess died he doesn't know how he stopped himself committing suicide; quite why Mrs B didn't dump the horrid little fag remains a mystery and so it is when one hears of how Darren or Wayne was happy to die with his mates, when most would prefer to live with their wives and children. I don't pretend to understand the Call to Arms; life is dangerous enough without letting some cunt like Gordon Snot put you in short-changed, ill-equipped and purposeless Harm's Way.

The Dyer's Garden said...

A life not worth dying for is not worth living. A life that is death-avoidance above all else is worst of all. Death is now so hidden, anonymous, solitary, depersonalized, NHfuckingS-gowned that we can't even qualify it - it is never a good thing, even when Hell faces about one everywhere, the Hell that is modern England. You want to rob them of the only grandeur they could have, the only escape from decadence, for the sake of some snivelling child, itself destined to a life as pointless as its death. We seem to be suffering collectively from a kind of spiritual Diogenes syndrome: nothing is ever to be put at risk or discarded for anything could be some fucking precious soul. Jesus, if you only knew what you have spawned.

call me ishmael said...

Welcome back, Mr TDG; sometimes you can be more sentimentalising than those you rebuke, what with your odd mix of lettres and Bushido.

There will be a post in a moment which may fire-uo your ignition system.

The Dyer's Garden said...

If you think it is sentimentalizing to suggest that we need more exposure to death so as to be able to qualify it - good, bad, heroic, cowardly, dignified, humiliating, etc - then perhaps your idea of "thinking" or "sentimentalizing" differs from the conventional. In any event, what I said is congruent with your next post, if not with some other things you say.

call me ishmael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
call me ishmael said...

Much of what you say is congruent with my posts, it's just that you are so much more melodramatic than I.

Nobody, nowadays, in their right mind wants to die and Mr Mothers Ruin is right to point out the dichotomy of a man taking both wedding vows and Queen's Shilling and the absurdity of either spouse then complaining should he fall, or worse; it is an observation you might yourself make.

I live in the country and on the shore, I live more in the seasons than do city dwellers, Death and renewal are all around but my only settled view of human Death is that we should be a bit more mediaeval about it and spend some time and effort in trying to make a good one, instead of pretending until the last moment that it will not happen; that is not the same as rushing towards it out of despair of Life.

The sentimentalising which I object to is the idea of there being nobility in self slaughter, when practised by others, of course.

I hope, incidentally, that my thinking does differ, at least a little, from the conventional and will take your implied insult as a compliment.

The Dyer's Garden said...

There is nobility in sacrifice, which is the setting aside of one's own interest for another's. It is hard for death to be self-indulgent for the dead have no self to indulge. Curious that you should see the saying of these simple things as melodrama - there is no emotion attached to them but weary exasperation. To have a good death one must first be able to distinguish between good and bad deaths, hence talk of qualification.

Maybe I should start my comments with, "yes, you are so absolutely right, your serene highness, but..." so you don't needlessly switch on your defensive rhetoric.

Mother's Ruin said...

What nobility is there in laying down your life in a doomed attempt to uphold Brown and Ainsworths credibilty? What sacrifice is worth getting maimed for political stubborness? What murder shalt thou commit for electoral fraud in Kabul?
Call me selfish,but give me the nobility of waking up in the morning with all appendages still in place any day.
Their's is not to reason why,but to do or die.Perhaps some should think twice before "only following orders"

The Dyer's Garden said...

It was the general notion of "I don't pretend to understand the Call to Arms" that I was talking about, MR, not the specifics. I am not sure a world that never yields to the martial instinct, even if it were possible, would be desirable.

It seems to me that in certain respects violence stands to argument as sex stands to "platonic" attraction. And just as pure spirituality is as perverted as pure physicality (cf Lawrence's essay on pornography and obscenity), so it is that pure reason is as bad as thoughtless violence. Look at the Iliad (say) and the irresistible fusion of thought and violence it represents. This is what it is to be alive, not taking pleasure in retaining a full complement of appendages, no?

call me ishmael said...

Maybe you could switch-on, instead, Mr TDG, a sense of the wry, the self-deprecating, or is that not sufficiently Grecian, melodramatic ?

Considering that you seldom seem to be detained hurling yourself into some potentially fatal melee, your elegiacal pronouncements on the warrior's way ring a little fanciful, even pretentious. The irresistible fusion of thought and violence, this is caveman stuff, isn't it, as is the notion that a peaceful world is unachievable, even undesireable? True nobility lies in the avoidance, by guile, craft, wisdom and compromise, of the slaughter which excites you so.

The Dyer's Garden said...

"Considering that you seldom seem to be detained hurling yourself into some potentially fatal melee"

But we did the other night, together, how could you forget, Ishy?

The irresistible fusion of thought and violence, this is caveman stuff, isn't it

Perhaps it is to you, but historically no period of serious creativity has been divorced from violence, so it is your fanciful notions against a thousand years of civilization. The equation of violence with crudity or lack of refinement is wrong - it need not be so, indeed it has never been so. Perhaps the martial is from where the key idea of sacrifice spreads in society, and it would be lacking in the utopian nirvana you so naively imagine. Anyhow, no point in rehearsing the schoolboy obviosities of pacifism, perhaps give some thought to why it has never worked and will never work. But you are not interested in thought, only in rhetoric - if it sounds good, it is good, that is the way of Ishmael. And it is not a bad way, the start of so much entertaining human folly, from Plato onwards, to be contemplated reposefully, sitting in your walled garden, the birds preening and the seals flopping lazily, etc, etc

call me ishmael said...

But we did the other night, together, how could you forget, Ishy?

What does that mean?

Don't tell me, after all this time, Mr TDG, that you are this poor soul who haunts these quarters, claiming an email correspondence with me, citing broken rendezvous and menacing 'phone calls, damning my conspiracies with people of whom I have never heard. Surely, that is not you ?

As for your customary dismissal of the idea of progress - by which we must assume you mean antibiotics, health care, longevity, literacy, education, human rights - well you may endlessly recite the fact that your clinging to the long dead past is thought and that my longing for change is rhetoric but I think the logic would favour me, would find me thoughtful and inquisitive, you hide-bound, impatient and reactionary, thoughtless.

The Dyer's Garden said...

What does that mean?

It is called irony, Mr Smith. I am reminding you that you do not know me, so saying "Considering that you seldom seem to be detained hurling yourself into some potentially fatal melee" makes you look a fool.

It is not your longing for change that is the problem. It is that you long for change along paths well trodden and repeatedly found to lead to nowhere. There is nothing thoughtful or inquisitive about your ideas - they are more or less the standard liberal currency, with some extra sentimentality thrown in. But we don't come here for ideas, and I shall say no more about it, we come here for your peerless invective. I should just let it flow.

call me ishmael said...

If it needs explaining it ain't irony, especially not a piece of that juvenilia, that faux gay smuttiness and innuendo, so common on more popular blogs, quite out of character, maybe, for a moment, you thought you were elsewhere.Were the assumption that you are not fighting duels or leading foreign insurrections false then I am sure you would correct me; I cannot imagine, furthermore, a man of warlike action being entertained here as regularly as are you.

I fear my well-trodden liberal paths are not so crumbling or directionless as are your own classical culs de sac of endless regret, fathomless grievance.

As for why people come here you infer a certitude far more potent than was my own supposition as to your relatively pacific existence and which you derided; how many of our readers are you in touch with, it must be more than a handful for you to claim that We don't come here for your ideas but your invective but take it from me, the former are father and mother to the latter. Be that as it may, I try to treat your correspondence with the courtesy it merits and if these replies contain invective, it must have crept in, on its own account, while I was distracted, in some fantastical lberal reverie, perhaps.

The Dyer's Garden said...

It only needs explaining to you, Ishmael. You managed to find a "gay" irony where there was none instead. Maybe I should have said "evening", the usual time for fighting, but then the tedium of trying to insure everything against your concerted efforts to misapprehend is bound to cause one to lapse now and again.

I did not say that invective does not depend on ideas, but that many of the ideas on which yours is built are either obvious or wrong; your mind is, moreover, closed to the possibility, ensuring a perpetuity of self-deception. You know this is what I said, but it serves your purpose to pretend otherwise: your rhetoric again.

I am certain I speak for all your readers when I say that it is for a miraculous escape from "endless regret" and "fathomless grievance" that we turn to the unbridled optimism and joyous celebration of modern mankind that is your blog.

Have a good weekend, Mr Smith.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have a look at the top of the page as to why we come here.

call me ishmael said...

Thank you, Mr TDG, I have tomorrow's edition to writer, feeble and idealistic as it is and a major joinery project, which is going well so far, glue, pins, sash cramps and large lumps of timber far more agreeable than people.

The same to you with Doric Capitals on.

Thank you, too, mr anonymous anonymous, that's one of the nicest things anyone's ever said to me

Zen in the butchers shop said...

More like a surgeon's scalpel.Deft,clinically incisive slashes,laying bare the bone.
It must be the application of a big fuck off knife