A Forthcoming Anthology

Tim Kendall, whose War Poets Blog is always worth reading, will be editing an anthology of WW1 poetry for the Oxford World Classics series. He has asked for suggestions of poems to include, so do send him some.
For my own part, I don’t really think much of any anthology that doesn’t include this poem by A.P. Herbert of Hawke  Battalion of the Royal Naval Division. It’s about a visit to the trenches by the much-disliked General Shute, who discovered something nasty there:

The General inspecting the trenches
Exclaimed with a horrified shout,
‘I refuse to command a Division
Which leaves its excreta about.’

But nobody took any notice
No one was prepared to refute,
That the presence of shit was congenial
Compared with the presence of Shute.

And certain responsible critics
Made haste to reply to his words
Observing that his Staff advisers
Consisted entirely of turds.

For shit may be shot at odd corners
And paper supplied there to suit,
But a shit would be shot without mourners
If somebody shot that shit Shute.

One Comment

  1. Roger
    Posted October 18, 2009 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    General Shute did have a point, actually; in In Parenthesis a soldier detached for latrine duty points out that it was inattention to sanitation that destroyed Sennacherib’s army in the bible.


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