Two Poems by Miles Tomlin

January 4, 2019

Two Poems by Miles Tomalin

The Volunteer for Liberty, V2, No. 35, November 7, 1938

Miles Tomlin playing the recorder, XV BDE Anti-Tank Battery

Miles Tomlin playing the recorder, XV BDE Anti-Tank Battery


From the English Dead

We, who were English once had eyes and saw

The savage greed of those who made this war

Tear up from earth, like a hog loose in flowers

So many lives as young and strong as ours,

You, England, stood apart from Spain’s affair,

You said you were secure in sea and cliff

While others sank in filthy war, as if

You kept some old virginity in there.

While the black armies marched and the dead fell,

You told your English people all was well,

And shutting eyes to war was finding peace.

You told them once, all slavery must cease.

Dishonourable England! We in Spain

Who died, died proudly, but not in your name;

Our friends will keep the love we felt for you

Among your maist* green landscapes and smooth hills,

Talk of it over honest window sills

And teach our children we were not untrue.

Not for those others, more like alien men

Who, quick to please our slayers, let them pass,

Not for them

We English lie beneath the Spanish grass.


*English variant of the word most –Merriam-Webster or a typo in which case it is likely “moist”.



The gunner on his crest

Watched the battalions waiting to assault

And saw his friend, relaxed there as if dead

Among the rest

He’ll go at the first shout, the gunner said.

Meantime the waiting makes his mind still

As a watch when it’s wound up’ sometimes will

Until you shake it.

He’ll go – I know that fellow well enough,

I shouldn’t wonder if the going’s tough.

Oh God, the gunner said, I hope he’ll make it!

There’s that damned fascist rather going again.

Give me another five, Chief, or they’ll start

Before we’ve got it. Give me another five –

I want to see that man come out alive.




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