Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘ww I’

Photo of Gertrude Ely: Bryn Mawr College Collection

I was on the brink of unsubscribing to the American Academy of Poets poem-a-day e-mail because I let so many pile up and then have to slog through all sorts of contemporary brain twisters.

But as I was working my way through the poems today, I came across the one below. I thought, “Oh, I know exactly what this is about” and was carried back to my college days and hanging out at the home of my great aunt’s friend Gertrude Ely.

Gertrude Ely was quite elderly at that time but really interesting to be around. She was knew all sorts of movers and shakers and was an awesome storyteller. I happened to be staying at her house one weekend when she received an unusual letter.

An elderly Philadelphia gentleman wrote that he had read in the Bulletin that she had received some civic award, and he just had to write and tell her a memory he had from his service in WW I in Europe. The Army was sending over carloads of friendly, proper young volunteers to chat with and cheer soldiers and bring a breath of home. The man wrote he would never forget a load of girls pulling up in an open car and Gertrude Ely calling out, “Any of you boys from Philadelphia?” He said, “At that moment, I believe every soldier there was wishing he was from Philadelphia.”

***

American Boys, Hello! by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Oh! we love all the French, and we speak in French
As along through France we go.
But the moments to us that are keen and sweet
Are the ones when our khaki boys we meet,
Stalwart and handsome and trim and neat;
And we call to them—“Boys, hello!”
“Hello, American boys,
Luck to you, and life’s best joys!
American boys, hello!”

We couldn’t do that if we were at home—
It never would do, you know!
For there you must wait till you’re told who’s who,
And to meet in the way that nice folks do.
Though you knew his name, and your name he knew—
You never would say “Hello, hello, American boy!”
But here it’s just a joy,
As we pass along in the stranger throng,
To call out, “Boys, hello!”

For each is a brother away from home;
And this we are sure is so,
There’s a lonesome spot in his heart somewhere,
And we want him to feel there are friends
right there

In this foreign land, and so we dare
To call out “Boys, hello!”
“Hello, American boys,
Luck to you, and life’s best joys!
American boys, hello!”

[Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote “American Boys, Hello!” while visiting France during the latter stages of World War I as entertainment for the American soldiers stationed there.]

Photo of Ella Wheeler Wilcox: American Academy of Poets, here.

Read Full Post »

Photo of Patricia McCarthy: Agenda

The editor of a small poetry journal in England was desperate for money to keep the magazine going, so she entered a poem of her own in a contest — and won.

The poem came straight from her mother’s memories of World War I. WW I poems — mostly written by young men in service who never came home — are some of the saddest ever composed.

At the Guardian, Alison Flood has the story on Agenda editor Patricia McCarthy’s win.

“McCarthy, who has published several poetry collections of her own, beat 13,040 other entries to win the anonymously-judged prize. Her winning poem, ‘Clothes that escaped the Great War,’ tells of the plodding carthorse who would take boys away to war, and then return, later, with just their clothes. ‘These were the most scary, my mother recalled: clothes / piled high on the wobbly cart, their wearers gone,’ writes McCarthy. …

“McCarthy said winning the £5,000 prize was ‘just extraordinary.’ “I’ve never even won a raffle. I don’t go in for competitions – the only other time I did was decades back, when I got runner-up,’ she said. ‘But I’m really down on my finances – I edit Agenda, and was really struggling, and thought this was probably better than a gamble on the horses.’ ”

More.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: