Thursday, 25 February 2010

What Manner of Men...

After visiting my 95 year old Grandmother at the weekend I have been trying to find a poem for her - She is a huge poetry lover, and has been all her life - she can quote poems learned at primary school better than she remembers the families names!

About 30 years or more ago, she heard a poem read out on the radio, and in that one reading memorised about 4 lines from it, but never knew the author or the name of the poem - and has no concept of the Internet.
It has taken some finding - and in the end I found only 1 link to it, and can still not find any information out about the poet - if I have the correct name!
so in the spirit of sharing, not only on my blog, but in case anyone else should ever look up the poem here is it...

The Devil at the table prepared to dine,
Said, where is Death,he is past his time,
He knows our rule that we dine at Ten,
As he merely went to make Cowards of men

Then a stir was heard outside the gate,
Soon Death limped in to his Hall of State,
With broken scythe, his beard awry,
And terror that had shone from fear limned eye,

And the Devil roared with all his might,
What happened thou art in such a plight?
Hard felt the weight of some heavy hand,
That thou in such mortal terror stand.

Thy orders, said Death, were but show my face,
And they'd blanch, these men of inferior race,
But they hurled me forth, with my neck nigh out,
To the Devil with Death, I heard them shout.

So what manner of Mortal can these be,
Said the Devil to make such sport of thee,
As the old man tenderly smoothed his hide,
They're the men of 'Arnhem' sire he cried.

But you'll make them fear us, the Devil roared,
Ere again you sit and sup at board,
Then I sup no more, old Death replied,
For as I left them, they laughed and died.
Harvey Haywood

The second Poem here was recited during an after dinner speech given by Critstiaan Barnard (who performed the first heart transplant) when he was touring New Zealand in the 60's. My Mum who lived there back then, cut the poem out of the news paper the day after the speech, and posted it back to my Grandma in Warrington - they had believed it was anonymous, but a far quicker search turned up the poem and the author...
A Bag of Tools
Isn't it strange how princes and kings,
and clowns that caper in sawdust rings,
and common people,
like you and me,are builders for eternity?
Each is given a list of rules;
a shapeless mass; a bag of tools.
And each must fashion, ere life is flown,
A stumbling block, or a Stepping-Stone.
J L Sharpe

1 comment:

Chris said...

I was given this poem in a frame when I finished P Company and became a Paratrooper. The Para's were the primary force at Arnhem and it was one of their battle honours. The poem is a slight take on General Mongomery's speech about the Parachute Regiment 'what manner of men'. When I first heard it I loved it, kept trying to find it and came across this site so thanks!