2.1 Task 6: Tynan: Joining the Colours

  • Many had very mixed feelings when their fathers, brothers or boyfriends left for the front. Katharine Tynan had two sons who both fought in WWI.1 She tells us here what it must have been like to see them march off:


    (West Kents, Dublin, August 1914)

    There they go marching all in step so gay3!
    Smooth-cheeked and golden, food for shells4 and guns.
    Blithely5 they go as to a wedding day,
    The mothers' sons.

    The drab6 street stares to see them row on row
    On the high tram-tops, singing like the lark.
    Too careless-gay for courage, singing they go
    Into the dark.

    With tin7 whistles, mouth-organs8, any noise,
    They pipe the way to glory and the grave;
    Foolish and young, the gay and golden boys
    Love cannot save.

    High heart! High courage! The poor girls they kissed
    Run with them: they shall kiss no more, alas!
    Out of the mist9 they stepped—into the mist
    Singing they pass.


    2.1 Task 6: Watch the second part (10:00 -33:16) of the film adaption of Erich Maria Remarque's novel “All Quiet on the Western Front” (see 2.6 Task 6: Material). Take screenshots of the film to illustrate individual lines of the poem.




    - Katharine Tynan, Joining the Colours. URL: http://allpoetry.com/Joining-The-Colours [12.3.16]

    - Match War Poetry Quotations to a Film. URL: www.teachit.org. 2008 [12.3.16]


    Ernest Brooks (1878 - 1936)


    1Cf. Biography. Katharine Tynan. URL: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/katharine-tynan [12.3.16]

    2join the colours = enlist in the army (each regiment in the British Army had a flag, called its 'colour')

    3gay = happy and excited

    4shell = an explosive

    5blithe = happy and without worry

    6drab = grey, bleak

    7tin = metal

    8mouth organ = a small musical instrument that is played with your mouth

    9mist = water vapour in the air that makes it difficult for you to see