Wilfrid Wilson Gibson: An Ordinary Foot Soldier

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Wilfrid Wilson Gibson was born in Hexham on 2nd October, 1878. Gibson was a close friend of Rupert Brooke. His earliest published poetry was Mountain Lovers (1902) and had several poems included in various volumes of Georgian Poetry. His first play, Daily Bread, was produced in 1910. 

Gibson joined the British Army but remained in England. Unlike most other poets who were officers, Gibson wrote poetry from the point of view of the ordinary foot soldier. 

After the First World War Gibson continued to write poetry and plays. Gibson's work was particularly concerned with the poverty of industrial workers and village labourers. He published several volumes of poetry including Collected Poems: 1905-1925 (1926), The Island Stag (1947) and Within Four Walls (1950).

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson died on 26th May 1962. 

Source: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWgibson.htm



We who are left, how shall we look again 
Happily on the sun or feel the rain 
Without remembering how they who went 
Ungrudgingly and spent 
Their lives for us loved, too, the sun and rain? 

A bird among the rain-wet lilac sings - 
But we, how shall we turn to little things 
And listen to the birds and winds and streams 
Made holy by their dreams, 
Nor feel the heart-break in the heart of things?



Neck-deep in mud, 
He mowed and raved - 
He who had braved The field of blood - 
And as a lad 
Just out of school 
Yelled - April Fool! 
And laughed like mad.



We ate our breakfast lying on our backs 
Because the shells were screeching overhead. 
I bet a rasher to a loaf of bread 
That Hull United would beat Halifax 
When Jimmy Stainthorpe played full-back instead 
Of Billy Bradford. Ginger raised his head 
And cursed, and took the bet, and dropt back dead. 
We ate our breakfast lying on our backs 
Because the shells were stretching overhead.



As I was marching in Flanders
A ghost kept step with me--
Kept step with me and chuckled
And muttered ceaselessly:
"Once I too marched in Flanders,
The very spit of you,
And just a hundred years since,
To fall at Waterloo.
"They buried me in Flanders
Upon the field of Blood,
And long I've lain forgotten
Deep in the Flemmish mud.
"But now you march in Flanders,
The very spit of me;
To the ending of the day's march
I'll bear you company.
They ask me where I've been,
And what I've done and seen.
But what can I reply
Who know it wasn't I,
But someone just like me,
Who went across the sea
And with my head and hands
Killed men in foreign lands...
Though I must bear the blame
Because he bore my name.