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Quo Vadis et ego Rogabo

The Poet's Tale:

Early one Sunday morning, 4th. July 1976, I was walking, alone; along a road near
Zonnebeke, West Flanders, Belgium, When I encountered an English clergyman.
When we spoke he said to me the words "Quo vadis" ~ so demonstrating his knowledge of Latin.
"I'm bound for Tyne Cot cemetery" I told him. He seemed surprised that I understood his question.
He explained to me that he had just visited the cemetery himself and,
for a while, we exchanged views on the horror of the First World War.
He then asked me if I had anyone at Tyne Cot.   I replied to him "Yes ~ all of them".

 

This poem is dedicated to 75580 Pte. Frank Stanley Jeeves (1894-1961) Tank Corps (Machine Gun Corps),
who survived the 1914-18 conflict, and also to his 5.5 million comrades who, alas, did not.

 

 

Quo vadis ask I
Upon this Sabbath day;
To hell, you reply,
Won't you show me the way 
Walk with me a while
And my tale I will tell,
It's many a long mile
But a path I know well.

You're a soldier I note,
From your bullet holes,
Though you don't have the vote
You have killed many souls;
So young you may be,
I assent this is true ~
I'm a general you see,
I've killed more than you.

I'll kill men I know
Ere this grim day ends;
I'll vanquish the foe
Sacrificing my friends.
I'll demand who goes there
As I shy from a bomb,
I'll make war from my chair
This black day on the Somme.

I'll send you to fight
(as bold as I am)
I'll send you all right,
I'll not give a damn.
I'll command you to shoot
As you storm through the mud...
I won't give a hoot,
I just won't see the blood.

I'll dispatch you to kill,
You'll go over the top;
I'll send you at will
Because I'll never stop.
I'll commit you to strive,
As you charge through the rain;
If you come back alive
Then I'll send you again.

Now your own end is nigh ~
Your last moments on earth.
Your cross I'll supply
As that's all you are worth.
So heed my words well
When I pledge you this oath...
I'll greet you in hell
For there's room for us both.

Style / type: 
Structured: Western
Review Request (Intensity): 
I want the raw truth, feel free to knock me on my back
Review Request (Direction): 
What did you think of my title?
How was my language use?
What did you think of the rhythm or pattern or pacing?
How does this theme appeal to you?
How was the beginning/ending of the poem?
Is the internal logic consistent?
Last few words: 
To my Neopoet friend and colleague.
Editing stage: 

Comments

little criticism. [dispatch]. I would agree, that there were probably some generals and those who sent men to die, that didn't care about how many were killed in obtaining the objective; but I did meet a few old soldiers that told me that their officers
cried for the men that they sent to the lines. I don't believe they were all heartless bastards. They probably had to hide their feelings; knowing that many of the men they sent out would never make it back and even if they did, that they would never be the same. Good write. ~ Geezer.
.

Come to Chat on the Darkside
every other Saturday night 8pm to ?
Bring your dark and delicious work
to show.

I know Geezer. Perhaps British generals were worse than those of other nations. I think men like Britain's own General Dyer (of Amritsar infamy ~ 1919) was totally uncivilised, perhaps that's why he was chosen to lead (from a distance).

Thanks for spotting the typo, I've sorted that.

.......................................
Critique is a compliment
Kind regards, Alan
.......................................

author comment

You say: This poem is dedicated to 75580 Pte. Frank Stanley Jeeves (1894-1961) Tank Corpse (Machine Gun Corpse),
I find the typo "Tank Corpse" quite witty.

It's a cliché that the British soldiers who were pointlessly slaughtered on the Western front were "lions led by donkeys". Bollocks. They were morons led by vicious donkeys. Probably the average IQ of the people of Western Europe was increased by the millions of brainless fools who threw their lives away for nothing.Having said that, I too have visited Tyne Cot and I found it a very sad place.

Britain 's departure from the EU makes a repetition slightly more likely.

It is an interesting observation that more people died of the mis-named "Spanish flu" in 1918-20 than died in WW1. It just shows what a total ARSEHOLE "God" would be if (s)he existed.

xxx
Edna
Poet(ess) to the Stars

Thank you for your interesting and useful comment.
Just a typo, that's all. but yes, amusing.

.......................................
Critique is a compliment
Kind regards, Alan
.......................................

author comment

Hi, Alan;
what a fine but sad poem this is. Makes me wonder why soldiers didn't drag their leaders out by the heels, give them a crappy rifle, a few rounds of ammo, point them in the forward direction and order them to kill each other. If Granny Queen Victoria had been alife, she would have spanked her grandson, the Kaiser, and all the rest of those idiot "kids." I doubt that WW1 would have happened with the consequential second war to follow. No crits at all, just sadness. I've lost a few relatives as well. Take care, Jerry

Jerry. It's good to get your point of view. Yes, Queen Vic. was the Kaiser's granny. He was by her side when she passed away on the Isle of Wight, 1901. As soon as his uncle 'Bertie' (King Edward VII) had passed, also, he was plotting to invade us. What a world!

.......................................
Critique is a compliment
Kind regards, Alan
.......................................

author comment

I think there is NO evidence whatsoever that Kaiser Wilhelm had any intention whatsoever of invading GB. If there is any, I would love to see it.
I find your use of the euphemism "passed" truly awful. What's wrong with "died"? Where would they pass to? Please don;t say to an afterlife in case I piss myself laughing.
.
Would you say "the Nazis caused 6 million Jews to pass" ?? I hope not. Or several whores were passed by Jack the Ripper?
.

xxx
Edna
Poet(ess) to the Stars

Wilhelm did actually invade the British Isles on at least fifty occasions. Or at least the German military did. The Kaiser, being head of state, would in my view be the person responsible for the invasion by means of aerial bombing. I am aware that there are those who would claim that certain historical events never took place but it would be impossible to alter my view on this.

'Passed' or 'passed away' is, in the English language, an accepted euphemism for someone dying. It is used respectfully as a means of saying that someone has died, usually of natural causes ~ as is the case of the two monarchs in question. I would reasonably expect the majority of people to understand what I meant, and in no way to be misleading.
I can't begin to imagine how Jews, whores and Jack the Ripper feature any in critique on my poem, however if I were to describe their fate I would probably use 'murdered'. Just to say 'died' would, to me, seem somehow inadequate.
Though for those who have been offended by my use of 'passing' or ' passed away' a PM will be replied to with a personal apology.

Sometimes we do make use of metaphor (or sarcastic metaphor) in our language. For example 'I piss myself laughing'. We do not, I think, expect that person to literally soil their underwear...Or do we?

.......................................
Critique is a compliment
Kind regards, Alan
.......................................

author comment

If you could provide any details of 50 German invasions of the British Isles in WW1 I should be happy to revise my knowledge of history. However, the landing of a spy or two does NOT count as an invasion. An invasion surely means a military offensive in which significant numbers of combatants enter the territory of another nation with the purpose of conquest or liberation. I fear you may have taken John Buchan and Erskine Childers as factual!

"Pass away" . "pass on" "pass over": of course, people KNOW what these mean. But that does not stop them being appalling euphemisms to avoid saying "die". They also suggest to gullible hearers that the dead person has gone somewhere else (eg "he went to a better place"). To those of us who do not believe in the "afterlife" promised to mourners by the hypocritical Chrsitain churches et al, they are insulting to our intelligence. And logically, if it's somehow OK to refer to someone dying naturally" as passing on/away, then it's surely equally valid to say that the Nazi death camps facilitated millions to pass on too. And equally appalling.

"Piss oneself laughing": this phrase is based on fact - if your bladder is full and you laugh yourself silly, you often do in fact often leak in the pee-wee department. I recall doing just that as a child watching Bugs Bunny, Silvester the cat (the one with the lisp) and Tweety Pie. Anyone who has not pissed themselves laughing has missed out on a treat.

In the midst of all this banter, I have omitted to say that I thought your poem was good - very poignant and very reminscent of Sassoon in terms of both style and content. Well written!

xxx
Edna
Poet(ess) to the Stars

that the debate centred on Wilhelm's intention to invade, and not him actually doing so. For that mistake I apologise.

My use of the term 'passed away' was clearly addressed to one particular individual who I mentioned by name. I am confident that he was not insulted and, of course, there is no intent to insult anyone else. I also called the Kaiser's granny 'Queen Vic' in good faith and with no sincere intention of insulting her great, great, granddaughter.

However, Thank you so much for your actual critique of my poem. I am proud to be mentioned in the same breath as the wonderful Siegfried Sassoon, some of who's work I have read and admired. I think of all the 1914-18 conflict poems, that I have thus far read, Kipling's 'My Boy Jack' appeals to me as, perhaps, my favourite.

.......................................
Critique is a compliment
Kind regards, Alan
.......................................

author comment

...with calling Victoria "Queen Vic". Personally I would call her a boring German midget. But, of course, in a caring way. And the present queen is a scheming old git who is determined to hang on until after her ghastly big-eared son has "passed away", hopefully to deepest Hell.
.
I am delighted we are back on friendly terms! Especially since we both like Siggy Sassoon - indeed he was the very first poet I ever liked - I recall discovering him at school and thinking here was a writer whose feelings about the disgusting nature of war matched my own opinons. Check out my poems on the subject:
https://www.neopoet.com/workshop/poems/soldiers-hymn
&
https://www.neopoet.com/workshop/poems/epitaph-brave-soldier
.

xxx
Edna
Poet(ess) to the Stars

I don't recall being on unfriendly terms with you. I appreciate your looking over my stuff and finding things to correct. I also enjoy a good debate, I may not always agree with you be we won't go to war over it. I think we learn the most by challenging each other.

.......................................
Critique is a compliment
Kind regards, Alan
.......................................

author comment

subscribe to the notion of an afterlife wholeheartedly, I do suggest that it is a possibility. Not on religious grounds, but having read and heard of many people who have had experiences with "ghosts" ; I concur that it may be possible that "we"
live on in some fashion. As to where, and in what manner, I will only speculate that there is perhaps a residual, intangible part of us that remains. To fully discount such, is in my opinion, a faulty assumption. Those people that [died/murdered], did not leave this earth; by natural causes, they were starved and beaten and worked to death! Pissing oneself, laughing, does not in any way appeal to me as an enjoyable experience. Even as a child, I hated it! Of course, there are those that DO enjoy it as some kind of sexual delight, but I'm sure that is a small portion of the population. ~ Geezer.
.

Come to Chat on the Darkside
every other Saturday night 8pm to ?
Bring your dark and delicious work
to show.

Geezer. Your comments are, of course, welcome.

We have drifted away a little from the critique of my poem so I thank you once again for your help and sensible view of the 7th. March.

.......................................
Critique is a compliment
Kind regards, Alan
.......................................

author comment

I just had a knee-jerk reaction [as some might say] to the comments on the content of your poem. ~ Geezer.
.

Come to Chat on the Darkside
every other Saturday night 8pm to ?
Bring your dark and delicious work
to show.

My command of Latin is poor, to say the least. However, I know enough to be able to tell you that your title is vey wrong indeed! The translation (if even possible, might be "Where are you going, myself, I shall ask". Your title should read "quo vadis rogo"

xxx
Edna
Poet(ess) to the Stars

For your help on this Edna. I appreciate it.

.......................................
Critique is a compliment
Kind regards, Alan
.......................................

author comment

...title should be, "Quo vadis? Rogo." Although of course Latin has no punctuation. so: QUO VADIS ROGO would be better.

NEVER trust Google Translate!

xxx
Edna
Poet(ess) to the Stars

Edna. We all make typo's from time to time. We did this in the past with pen and paper (or at least I did).

.......................................
Critique is a compliment
Kind regards, Alan
.......................................

author comment
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