Sunday, 24 December 2017

Christmas Poems of the First World War

With thanks to the research of WW1 researcher Debbie Cameron, who has a page on Facebook commemorating the women of WW1 -
here is a Christmas poem written by a nurse at the end of the war.  Helen Nightingale features in the anthology "Great Ward Poetry" edited by Simon McNeill-Ritchie (who has a Facebook Page for Great Ward Poetry).

We had an exchange of e-mails in October 2014 about Helen's nationality and with Debbie's help I think we can now say that Helen was British.  More soon.  In the meantime, here is Helen's Christmas 1918 poem:

Christmas Poems of The First World War

poem by Kathleen Ethel Burne (1879 - 1959)

Kathleen's poetry collection "Poems by K.E.B." includes several poems written during the First World War.

Sources:  Information kindly supplied by Lesley Young who has carried out extensive research on the life and work of Kathleen, and members of Kathleen's family.

Christmas Eve, 1916 by Kathleen Ethel Burne

The little lamp burns bright; the Babe
Lies in the manger there;
The mother bends above; her hands
Are clasped in praise and prayer;
Her tender face a-light with love
Looks down upon Him there.

This little Child was born, they say,
To save the world from sin.
So still and peaceful lies the scene-
How crept the evil in?
What madness swept across the earth
And plunged the world in sin?

The Shepherds kneel, simple souls,
Beneath the open sky
They learn to read the signs of God
And humbly drawing nigh
They worship here the Sign that flamed
From out the midnight sky.

The Wise Men from the East with gifts
In adoration dumb
Bend low. Stern searchers after truth,
But yet in faith they come:
Before the Mother and the Child
Their restless doubts are dumb.

The gentle large-eyed ox, the ass,
Stand gazing without fear;
The camels through the open door,
And small wild things draw near-
Where all is love and peace and joy,
What room is there for fear?

So sweet and peaceful is the scene-
Ah, whence crept evil in?-
Give peace, O God, to weary hearts
And cleanse our souls from sin !
Stretch forth Thine arms, all-loving God
And draw Thy children in !