Keighley’s Great War Poets

On Saturday 10th October at Keighley Local Studies Library at 11.00am there will be a talk about Keighley’s Great War Poets by Andy Wade from Keighley’s Men of Worth project and regular writer in Keighley News.

The two definitive poets from Keighley wrote of their very different experiences of war.

Clara Jane Terry was born locally and was head dressmaker at Keighley Co-operative Society. Her poems were published under the pen name of Jean Clare.

JeanClare

This copy of her book called ‘Verses by Jean Clare – Songs of Peace and War’ is kept in Keighley library. The book was published in 1915 and includes a poem about refugees from Belgium, a tribute to British troops killed in action and a poem praising the actions of nurse Edith Cavell. Proceeds from the sale of the book were sent to the red Cross.

Clement Bartrim served in the army with the 3rd Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment.

Clement Bartrim

Clement Bartrim

He married Ruth Baraclough in 1940 and ran W. Brooks, a gentleman’s outfitters in Cavendish Street, Keighley. He was an amateur violinist. He wrote more than 100 poems during the First World War but as poets often do, he threw most of them away in 1929. Ian Dewhirst, historian and former Keighley Reference Librarian edited and published some of Clement’s remaining poems under the title ‘The Awkward Squad and Other Verses’ in 1976. Here is the first poem in the book.

 

Joining Up

The world today is very sad,
And eyes are dim with tears,
My life today is all askew,
I feel full twenty years.

To Mother, Dad and brothers too,
This morn I said goodbye,
And laughingly I said to them,
I was not born to die.

But now I am upon my way
A soldier soon to be,
To Halifax, the sergeant said,
And then, to Gay Paree.

‘Bout thirty I should say, or more,
For sure we ride in state
In carriages all to ourselves,
Oh yes, we must be great.

But what a silent throng we are,
A silence still and deep.
With thoughts of home we go to war
And wish that men would weep.

The poem below was written in about April 1917. Bartrim writes: ‘At this period we were working on the Somme battlefield, where the terrible fighting of July, 1916, had taken place, and some of our men were burying soldiers who had been lying there since then – there were some awful sights’

France

Oh land of horror, land of death,
We speak of thee with fearful breath,
But yet we hearken to thy call,
And for thy sake our manhood fall.

Our British blood
The test has stood,
And ever for our friendship’s sake
An English mother’s heart shall break.

Thy rivers red with blood shall run,
With British blood till set of sun,
And in the heaven’s gleaming fires
Shall light the way for soul that tires.

Never forget,
Oh France, the debt,
And e’en though doubt shall come with years,
Remember all our bitter tears.

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