The Unutterable Beauty - the Collected Poetry of G A Studdert Kennedy (Woodbine Willie)
Poems by the First World War Army Chaplain nicknamed 'Woodbine Willy' for his habit of handing out Woodbine cigarettes to the men in the trenches. WOODBINE WILLIE They gave me this name like their nature, Compacted of laughter and tears, A sweet that was born of the bitter, A joke that was torn from the years. Of their travail and torture, Christ's fools, Atoning my sins with their blood, Who grinned in their agony sharing The glorious madness of God. Their name! Let me hear it-the symbol Of unpaid-unpayable debt, For the men to whom I owed God's Peace, I put off with a cigarette. INDIFFERENCE When Jesus came to Golgotha they hanged Him on a tree, They drave great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary; They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep, For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap. When Jesus came to Birmingham they simply passed Him by, They never hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die; For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain, They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain. Still Jesus cried, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do," And still it rained the wintry rain that drenched Him through and through; The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see, And Jesus crouched against a wall and cried for Calvary.
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An amazing book - the only poetry book on my shelf. His dialect poems are very powerful, especially The suffering God, and Well? My aunt gave me her copy when I was a teenager - am now a grandma.
An overlooked treasure of first world war poetry. Some of the poems contain harrowing stories, going onto the battlefield to drop bodies into shell holes. Some are wonderful christian analogies. The well known poem Indifference is included
Some poems are in dialect and more difficult, but overall a memorable and challenging read.