“The Next War” by Wilfred Owen

Armistice Day:
A rebuke.

“The Next War”

Wilfred Owen

“War’s a joke for me and you,
While we know such dreams are true.”
Siegfried Sassoon

Out there, we’ve walked quite friendly up to Death,-
Sat down and eaten with him, cool and bland,-
Pardoned his spilling mess-tins in our hand.
We’ve sniffed the green thick odour of his breath,-
Our eyes wept, but our courage didn’t writhe.
He’s spat at us with bullets and he’s coughed
Shrapnel. We chorussed when he sang aloft,
We whistled while he shaved us with his scythe.

Oh, Death was never enemy of ours!
We laughed at him, we leagued with him, old chum.
No soldier’s paid to kick against His powers.
We laughed, -knowing that better men would come,
And greater wars: when each proud fighter brags
He wars on Death, for lives; not men, for flags.

“Lament” by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

Armistice Day:
Survivor’s guilt – and we are all survivors, and are all guilty for all of war.
-The Voice before the Void


Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

We who are left, how shall we look again
Happily on the sun, or feel the rain, Continue reading

“Ronald Skirth” from Wikipedia

Armistice Day:
The only type of war hero that ought be celebrated.
-The Voice before the Void

“Ronald Skirth”


John Ronald Skirth (11 December 1897 – 1977) served in the Royal Garrison Artillery during the First World War. His experiences during the Battle of Messines and the Battle of Passchendaele led him to resolve not to take human life, and for the rest of his army service he made deliberate errors in targeting calculations to try to ensure the guns of his battery missed their aiming point on the first attempt, giving the enemy a chance to evacuate. Many years later, after retiring from a career as a teacher, he wrote a memoir of his years in the army, describing his disillusionment with the conduct of the war and his conversion to pacifism. In 2010 the memoir was published as The Reluctant Tommy, edited by Duncan Barrett.

1. Early life and war service

Skirth was born in Chelmsford and grew up in Bexhill-on-Sea. In the First World War, having volunteered for the British Army under the Derby Scheme, and having requested that the process be expedited, he was called up in October 1916, two months before his 19th birthday. Continue reading

“A Good War” by Lord Dunsany

Armistice Day:
Such is every war.
-The Voice before the Void

“A Good War”

from Unhappy Far-off Things

Lord Dunsany

Nietzsche said, “You have heard that a good cause justifies any war, but I say unto you that a good war justifies any cause.”

A man was walking alone over a plain so desolate that, if you have never seen it, the mere word desolation could never convey to you the melancholy surroundings that mourned about this man on his lonely walk. Far off a vista of trees followed a cheerless road all dead as mourners suddenly stricken dead in some funereal procession. By this road he had come; but when he had reached a certain point he turned from the road at once, branching away to the left, led by a line of bushes that may once have been a lane. For some while his feet had rustled through long neglected grass; sometimes he lifted them up to step over a telephone wire that lolled over old entanglements and bushes; often he came to rusty strands of barbed wire and walked through them where they had been cut, perhaps years ago, by huge shells; Continue reading

“Patterns” by Amy Lowell

Armistice Day:
A celebrated poem about the Flanders Campaign of the British army during the War of the First Coalition, written and published during the First World War as the British army was fighting in Flanders.
-The Voice before the Void


Amy Lowell

I walk down the garden paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jewelled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down Continue reading

“The March” by J.C. Squire

Armistice Day
World War I poetry, in commemoration of all wars

“The March”

J.C. Squire

I heard a voice that cried, “Make way for those who died!”
And all the coloured crowd like ghosts at morning fled;
And down the waiting road, rank after rank there strode,
In mute and measured march a hundred thousand dead. Continue reading

“The Dancers” by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

Armistice Day:
Beauty drawn from the murder of millions, and I cannot handle this beauty, I cannot handle this beauty.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Dancers”

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

All day beneath the hurtling shells
Before my burning eyes
Hover the dainty demoiselles–
The peacock dragon-flies.

Unceasingly they dart and glance
Above the stagnant stream–
And I am fighting here in France
As in a senseless dream– Continue reading

“And There Was a Great Calm” by Thomas Hardy

Armistice Day Special:
Millions of men murdered in mud for nothing.
Millions more mangled and blinded and left limbless.
Millions displaced.
Millions dead of influenza.
World War I is a forever emblem of human civilization.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“And There Was a Great Calm”

Thomas Hardy

(On the Signing of the Armistice, November 11, 1918)

There had been years of Passion–scorching, cold,
And much Despair, and Anger heaving high,
Care whitely watching, Sorrows manifold,
Among the young, among the weak and old,
And the pensive Spirit of Pity whispered, “Why?”

Men had not paused to answer. Continue reading

“From the Deck of a Transport (A Returning Soldier Speaks)” by Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

Armistice Day Special:
War is a crime committed against soldiers.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“From the Deck of a Transport (A Returning Soldier Speaks)”

Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

I am coming back with a singing soul through the surge of the splendid sea,
Coming back to the land called home, and the love that used to be—
I am coming back through a flash of spray, through a conquered tempest’s hum,
I am coming back, I am coming back…. But, God, do I want to come?

I have heard the shriek of the great shells speak to the dawn of a flaming day; Continue reading

“Armistice Day” by Roselle Mercier Montgomery

Armistice Day Special:
Until war is abolished.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Armistice Day”

Roselle Mercier Montgomery

I think I hear them stirring there, today,
Who have lain still
So long, so long, beside the Aisne and Loire,
On Verdun hill.

I think I hear them whispering, today,
The young, the brave,
The gallant and the gay–unmurmuring long,
There in the grave. Continue reading

“Joy” by The Voice before the Void

Armistice Day Special:
In commemoration of World War I


The Voice before the Void

Millions died in mud

Joy exists only as a shadow’s shadow
For death is the model and senses but fracture

Yet within ten centimeters lies buried pleasure Continue reading

An Account of the Armistice from the New York Herald Tribune

Armistice Day Special:
A newspaper account printed on the ninth anniversary of “the most important event in all history.”
⁓The Voice before the Void

“When Foch Met Germans to End War: How the Enemy, Beaten, and Fearing Reds, Begged Peace of Allies”

New York Herald Tribune

When Foch Met Germans to End War An Account of the Armistice from New York Herald Tribune 1918 November 11 Day First World War I 1

Note on missing commemorating Armistice Day at The Voice before the Void on 2013 November 11

November 11th is the most hopeful date in human history, for it signifies the fact that World War I ended, that even the most horrific tragedies can come to an end. November 11th is the most awful date in human history, for it signifies the fact that World War I happened, that we can enact the most horrific tragedies.