An early page of The War Poetry website - 1999


 poet of the First World War



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.

26 December, 1915

1 athwart  -  across 
2 perchance  -  perhaps 
3 phoenix  -  legendary bird that was able to grow again from its own ashes

Edward Thomas wrote THIS IS NO PETTY CASE OF RIGHT OR WRONG after a blazing row with his father who was a conventional patriot who demonised the Germans. The poem is truly patriotic, and is an interesting contrast with the patriotic war poems of Rupert Brooke.

Other War Poetry
Here Dead We Lie
by A E Housman
Peace by Rupert Brooke
Rain by Edward Thomas
Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen
Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen

Back to Poet Index

Main index