Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"THE SPLENDID SERB" by James Bernard Fagan / "Daily Telegraph - UK" November 10, 1915

Aleksandra's Note: Many thanks to the folks at "Britic - The British Serb Magazine" for finding and sharing this gem. The poem "The Splendid Serb" by James Bernard Fagan, published in the November 10, 1915 issue of the "Daily Telegraph", exactly one century ago, is a special tribute to the Serbians and who they showed themselves to be in the First World War. It is worthy to note that this poem was published shortly before the Serbs began their "Great Retreat" of the winter of 1915/1916, a hard journey that preceded the resurrection of their army and their motherland.

I have made the necessary corrections to the text to correspond with the poem as it was originally written.

The Serbians were indeed splendid and much more, and it is most appropriate to be reminded of that on this Veterans Day 2015.

Aleksandra Rebic
November 11, 2015


By "Britic":

"The Daily Telegraph continues to draw on its heritage with the daily publication of its archive editions from a hundred years ago. The terrible trials of the Great War upon the Serbian people and the eager anticipation of any flicker of any good news in the Balkan theatre of war characterise the British press in this period of heroes.

"The 10 November 1915 edition of the broadsheet carries this rhapsodic verse on page 8:"


“By your old men’s bones on the mountain,
   By the blood of your youth in the plain,
By the tears unshed for your holy dead,
   By the children of your slain –
Ye who fought till no fight availeth,
   O Serbs, ’tis the hour to shield
All that is left of your people -
   The hour to yield!"

Hark! on the hill-winds ringing
   O’er the thundrous drone of war,
From the snowy height of Kara Dagh
   To the valleys of Vardar
The splendid Serb has answered
   From a patriot's soul of flame –
“Better to die in honor
   Than live in shame!”

“It is said.  It is done.  Till we perish
   We fight, and we ask not why,
Back from our blackened homes and fields
   Till we’ve nothing left but the sky,
Till the last last man of the last lone hill
   Shall cry, as death calls his name:
‘Better to die in honor
      Than live in shame!’ "

O world of men and sorrows!
   In words of immortal light
The whole of the art of living,
   The creed of eternal right,
Comes down from the Serbian summit
   For each man’s soul the same:
“Better to die in honor
   Than live in shame!”


Click on the link below to download the whole paper:


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