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Unread 02-02-2019, 07:31 AM
Jan Iwaszkiewicz's Avatar
Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia
Posts: 2,629

Hi again John thanks for coming back, yes Bogle was the composer but my favourite version is John Williamson's here:

I have not seen The Four Feathers but then I am not much of a movie buff

Hi Mark,

My God even a whiff of Kipling puts me beyond the current political pale lol. I am glad that you liked it.

Regards and thanks,

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Unread 02-02-2019, 07:35 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 3,693

Hi Jan,

The four feathers in the movie are white, and presented to the hero, as you might imagine. It's got a pretty good plot.
Kipling is a great poet at the end of the day. Here's The Way through the Woods:

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Unread 02-02-2019, 09:34 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,894

This fills me with angst. It plays beautifully off the song Waltzing Matilda. Thought it has its own, more immediate, less wistful view.

I've listened to the song several times this morning -- your favorite version, the Pogues version, Eric Bogle's and even gave Tom Waits' "Tom Traubert's Blues/Waltzing Matilda" a listen (it's not the same song but it taps into a similar sense of loss) -- and have been weighted down by it. I guess that's what parades are for -- to bring welcome distraction : )

Your last stanza echoes what I think is the most powerful lyric/vision in the song:

And saw what it had done, well, I wished I was dead --
Never knew there was worse things than dying.

As Mark noted, your version gives more of a muscular gut-punch:

You thought you’d been and seen the worst
but the queue’s for Hell and you’re standing first.

The last line, standing alone, gives me a shell-shocked sense of nightmare. Well done. And thanks for refreshing my memory of Matilda's waltzing.

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 02-03-2019 at 10:49 AM.
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Unread 02-03-2019, 09:36 AM
Mark Stone Mark Stone is offline
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 303

Jan, Hello.

1. I also think the poem has a WWI feel. It reminds me of the poem “In Flanders Fields” and the movie “Gallipoli.” This 1981 movie is about a group of soldiers from the Australian army fighting in the trenches in the Gallipoli Campaign during WWI.

2. I Googled “Reveille” and it says it is a bugle call played on military bases to mark the beginning of the duty day, when the colors are raised on the flagpole. Since the poem does not deal with the beginning of the duty day, the title seems a little odd to me. Of course, you might be using “Reveille” as a metaphor.

3. L2 & L3 strike me as being a run-on sentence (two independent clauses not separated by a semicolon or joined by a conjunction). So I would either put a semi-colon after “crowd” or make L2 and L3 separate sentences.

4. L4 reads:

Your bubble is born to burst.

This sounds awkward to me, in the sense that I don't think anyone would ever say that. Since the mood in S1 is still very optimistic, you could change L4 to read:

Your bubble cannot be burst.

5. L13 reads as follows: “You thought you’d been and seen the worst.” This sentence sounds awkward to me, since the commonly used phrase is “You’ve been through the worst.” Here are two alternatives for L13 & L14:

You thought you’d been through and seen the worst
but the queue’s for Hell and you’re standing first.

Although you thought you’d seen the worst,
the queue’s for Hell and you’re standing first.

6. I notice that L16 is parallel in theme, but not in form, with L4, L8 & L12. One way to address this would be to change L16 to read as follows:

Your bubble has bloody well burst.

7. Notwithstanding these minor comments, I think the poem is well written. And the final line is strong.
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Unread 02-03-2019, 01:28 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 1,852


These verses are well wrought and effectual so that I find but little to add in critique, all the more to your credit.

A comma is due before a conjunction that serves to join two independent clauses. Thus it appears one is missing before ‘and’ in the following sentence: ‘You swell in the ranks of a roiling crowd, your chest puffs out and your eye is proud.’

For the same reason, a comma would be due before ‘and’ in this compound sentence: ‘Your nerves are shot and your mates are dead.’
I do appreciate how your verses show how:
Men find warred over territory
in heaping death a hollow glory.
Much enjoyed.

All the best,


P.S. If I were to be persnickety, on a matter of polish, I would say I prefer ‘bound to burst’ over ‘is born to bust,’ for the one seems indubitably correct and immediately satisfying; less so the other.

Any reiteration to use elision of a sudden and at variance with the earlier ‘your bubble is born’ hazards the appearance of breaking precedent for no apparent reason unless to accommodate the meter. Such is the case when, having earlier read ‘your bubble is,’ we later read ‘your bubble’s . ’ The change seems done for the extra syllable in the next word ‘about’ which appears this time around in place of the monosyllable ‘bound’ from before.

As I find the best among iterations to be ‘your bubble is bound to burst,’ I cannot help being less satisfied by near copies less apt. If the basic sense is so alike, I would prefer the best wording repeated to slightly new less apt. That said, the small variance in wording did in one instance pay off: it was not—
Your bubble is born to burst
and it was certainly not—
Your bubble’s about to burst
but the last reiteration—
The bubble you had has bloody well burst.
In the first place, ‘bloody well’ adds a color colloquial and humorous as well as a crescendo rhetorical and sonic; and in the second place, the difference in connotation due to simple present traded for present perfect tense.

Last edited by Erik Olson; 02-04-2019 at 07:06 AM.
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Unread 02-03-2019, 02:52 PM
Jan Iwaszkiewicz's Avatar
Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia
Posts: 2,629

Hello Jim,

I have written quite a few poems on WWI and to gain a more thorough understanding of the zeitgeist have read many letters sent from the front of which there are numerous sources. In my youth, as part of a religious organisation I was in, we visited retirement homes and talked to many returned soldiers who tended to open up to us far more than they did to their own family. The' feel' varied as much as did the participants.

I was not thinking of Bogle's song when I wrote this but the responses have caused me to read more about it. Even Joan Baez did a cover of it and Bogle's favourite version was John McDermott's.

Your response is what I wished for, thank you.

Hello Mark,

'Reveille' is the wake up call and here is the wake up call from the rattling sabres of jingoism. There was no conscription in Australia. All who answered the glory mongers were volunteers.

S1 reads just the way that I want it to. The tenor is fine to my ear.

In S4 we will have to disagaree.

By changing the form of L16 I increase its impact.

Thank you.

Hello Erik

I will ponder the grammatical changes you propose but to my ear I feel that they change the read.

I thank you for your kind words I always look forwards to your entry in one of my threads.

Regards to all.

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Unread 02-03-2019, 04:21 PM
R. S. Gwynn's Avatar
R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Beaumont, TX
Posts: 4,201

This sounds like a Great War poem. I'm remind of this classic:

Some day I'm going to murder the bugler,
Some day they're going to find him dead;
I'll amputate his reveille, and step upon it heavily
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Unread 02-03-2019, 05:15 PM
Jayne Osborn's Avatar
Jayne Osborn Jayne Osborn is offline
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Middle England
Posts: 5,717


This is marvellous, and the rhyme scheme fits the poem perfectly. I love the poems of WW1 and WW2, and have written quite a few on the topic myself.

I have just two tiny nits in S3:

Each year’s a brick to put in your hod.
The bottle’s your pimp and you love the sod
and you stagger to sleep and pray there's a god.
Your bubble’s about to burst.

I think "to put in''[your hod] could be a tad smoother, metrically. Might I suggest something along the lines of:

"Each year’s a brick to load your hod", or "Each year a brick goes in your hod...", but you can probably come up with a better line than either of those (should you wish to, of course!).

Secondly, I'd put a semicolon after ''sod'' and lose the first ''and'' in S3L3:

Each year’s a brick to put in your hod.
The bottle’s your pimp and you love the sod;
you stagger to sleep and pray there's a god.
Your bubble’s about to burst.

The repetition of the bubble bursting - inevitably - is terrific, and I love the title, being a wake-up call. It would be great to see this in an anthology of war poems.
Yes, I really like it. Well done!

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Unread 02-04-2019, 01:38 AM
Ann Drysdale's Avatar
Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is online now
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Old South Wales (UK)
Posts: 4,526

Oh. I beg to differ. The metre is an integral part of the spirit of the poem. It is a gruesome ha-ha-ha, a march to the scaffold to an insistent, irresistible drum.

I hear it as percussion rudiments, a step aside from conventional prosody. The hod line is ta-rum, ta-tum, ta-tiddly pom and the grit-teethed gaiety of it shows me Tommies hand-in-hand trundling to their doom. A classic danse macabre.

Such a dance calls for the diddly-discipline of an occasional ratamacue.
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Unread 02-05-2019, 02:34 PM
Jan Iwaszkiewicz's Avatar
Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia
Posts: 2,629


You awoke a memory that is enjoying its resurrection with the ear worms. A school play where I had to sing.

...and spend the rest of my life in bed.


Thank you but my ear loses the rhythm with your suggestion, and if I load I lose the image of one brick at a time.

I am not sure on your grammatical proposals but I will ponder


You hear that line perfectly.

It is a danse macabre perhaps with a Goya as a backdrop.

Ratamacue! I had not heard of this and looked it up thank you I love the idea of drum beat in poetry.

Regards and thanks to all.


Last edited by Jan Iwaszkiewicz; 02-05-2019 at 02:40 PM.
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