If you will allow me to inflict my great-uncle on you a few more times, I’d like to post a few things he copied, probably at the YMCA at Camp Lee, Virginia, where he most likely had access to newspapers, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Why did he copy these items? Was he simply trying to fill his time when he was free from training? Was he touched by these writings?
It does give us some insight into the popular culture of the times, when newspapers often printed poetry and other writings, sometimes simply to fill column inches. Here are some samplings of what piqued his interest.
“Fussy.” A short item that appeared in several newspapers at the time, with the simple credit line, “Lamb” at the end:
“You’re to be shot at sunrise. That’ll spoil the whole day for me. Make it sunset.”
“Overseas” is a poem written by Anne Higginson Spicer (1871-1935), a known poetess and Illinois native of the time who published a few volumes of her work. This poem seems to have been written in January 1916, well before the American entry into the war:
While Flanders fields grow greener, / Our faithful lads and true / To sit and knit at endless grey / Seems a poor thing to do.
Now France has had my lover / Since April was a year / While I roll strips of linen / And choke back many tears.
To march with drum and banner / To dig, to shoot, to kill / T’would seem to me a heaven / To this Hell of sitting still.
“Peace” appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on January 13, 1918. It’s author was identified only as “J.A.N.” of Richmond, and was written for the Times-Dispatch:
Peace will come when the victory is won. / A peace which no man can sever. / But may it not come till justice is done, / Then may it last forever.
May there come to the sorrowing a sweet consolation / A message of hope from Above. / Till truth shall free and make the world one Nation / Then Mankind may labor and love.
“Day” also appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on January 13, 1918, which suggests he copied both “Peace” and “Day” from that day’s paper–something that is not obvious from the transcriptions. Day was written by Emma Wright Brown, who appears to have been a local woman who submitted poetry to the paper.
The morning sun has risen / The night has gone to rest / The flowers arise to greet the day, / While the birds sing their best.
The farmer comes to go to work, / In this glad November morn, / He arises early at the break of day, / And hears the hunter’s horn.
Twilight now is falling, / The day is going away. / The birds have ceased their calling, / For this is the end of a perfect day.