Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ashley Sterne Punch 1915 Three Short Items

Here are two short poems and an account of a mock battle written by Ashley Sterne during the The Great War.

Punch, v149 (August 4, 1915), p. 113

[Note:  the poem refers to a cricket bat, which must be oiled to prevent drying and cracking.  A "yorker" is a straight ball that passes underneath the striker's bat.]

To a Weeping Willow

Dear Willow that I love with all my heart,
Oh, it is sad to see you weeping so !
To watch the oil of mourning earthward flow
In glistening drops that from your fibres start!
I feel the cruel pang, the painful smart
Of separation. For a year ago
Together we opposed a common foe ;
To-day the tide of War keeps us apart.
Weep not for me, sad Willow; I can bear
The altered circumstance the Fates ordain.
There "ll come a season when my pulse shall throb
Exultant, as with tender loving care
I draw you from your oil-bath once again,
And face with you the yorker and the lob.


Punch, v149 (November 3, 1915), p. 374 

A Rondeau of Regret
(For The 5th of November.)

An effigy — a strange affair
Of ancient clothing, past repair,
All stuffed with straw; and for a head
Old rags, to which is se'wn with thread
A mask grotesque with baleful stare.

Thus limned amid the bonfire's glare
We see you, Wilhelm, as it were
In proxy ; in your royal stead — an effigy.

We but regret, Imperial Herr,
You're not in person frizzling there.
You thing of straw, with stuffing fed,
Were your existence forfeited
On such a pyre, then who would care an f-i-g?


Punch, v149 (August 18, 1915), p. 158

Our Ally
(Being notes from the diary of a combatant in the Fly Campaign.)

6.30 a.m. — Hostilities have begun. My nose has just been invaded not by a battalion, but by a single spy.  Having been caught napping, was unfortunately unarmed ; but succeeded in driving off enemy with my bare hands.  He has retired to window-pane.

7 a.m. — Enemy showing signs of great activity.  He has left window and is air-skirmishing. Though invisible, I can distinctly hear the hum of his motor.

7.15 a.m. — Enemy has presumably entrenched himself.  No sign of the offensive being renewed at the moment.

7.30 a.m. — Left ear violently attacked from rear, but enemy again retired in great disorder on my commencing a turning movement.

7.45 a.m — Observe much activity in enemy's camp.  Taking up strong position upon shaving-mirror.  Consider time is ripe to make my advance.  Shall mobilise.

7.50 a.m. — Enemy still occupying shaving-mirror.  Think he has dug himself in.  Shall attack him on the flank, and enfilade him with a high-velocity towel.

7.51 a.m. Regret to have to report attack failed.  Enemy escaped through loop in fringe of towel.  Casualties, one shaving-mirror.

7.55 a.m. — Shortage of food apparent in enemy's lines.  Is eating curtain.  Shall seize opportunity to have bath.

8.5 a.m. — Enemy still occupying curtain.  Have decided to bombard him with heavy artillery, for which purpose am bringing up 22-inch pillow.

8.6 A.M. — Unaccountably misjudged trajectory, but caused enemy to evacuate position and retire to window-pane again.  Casualties one electric-lamp shade (slightly chipped).  Am following up attack with vigour and a handkerchief  Hope with co-operation of latter to bring off enveloping movement

8.10 a.m. — Enveloping movement only partially successful.  Succeeded in approaching within easy range, but unfortunately sneezed at crucial moment.  Suspect enemy of employing snuff against me.

8.15 a.m. — Territory free of enemy.  Searching scrutiny of every available ambush failed to reveal any trace of him.  Shall complete equipment and proceed at once to the new Front if I can find it.

8.30 a.m. — Enemy once more located occupying heights on wall of breakfast room.  Position practically unassailable without pea-shooter, but am wondering whether could manage to strike effective blow with Daily Express.

8.32 a.m. — No, I can't.  Losses heavy; one Tanagra figure (mortally wounded), one vase cut flowers (not expected to live), one eight-day clock (totally disabled).

8.40 a.m. — Temporary cessation of hostilities.  Enemy's whereabouts unknown.  Don't care.  Am hungry.

8.41 a.m. — Found him in milk-jug.  Had decided to build pontoon and attack him in mid-stream, when he managed to scramble out, and again disappeared.

8.42 a.m. — Enemy located in marmalade entanglement.  Hope to announce decisive victory when have found sugar-tongs.

8.45 a.m. — Enemy succeeded in eluding capture by feigning submission.  Had him in the hollow of my hand (literally) and was about to intern him in slop-basin when he flew away in the most cowardly and unsportsmanlike manner possible.  Is at present on window-pane buzzing an epinikion and cleaning his arms and legs.  Shall renew attack by strategy when have finished examining contents of two shells (dead, and both hard-boiled as usual).

8.55 a.m. — Have just sent despatch-rider for glazier, but am happy to be able to record engagement ended in my favour.  Enemy escaped through hole in pane, but reckoned without a valuable ally that made his presence known in the nick of time, and secured the fugitive while in full flight.  Shall certainly submit his name to headquarters for suitable recognition.

9.3 a.m. — Thinking the matter over, have decided for the future to abandon ordinary methods of campaign, and enlist further allies. What I want to know is, do the Stores keep a reserve of spiders?

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