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Waste – Woodbine Willie’s poem

My colleague Rev. Gordon Newton read this today at our remembrance Sunday service.  I hadn’t heard it read for a while, so I thought I’d post it.

WASTE

Waste of Muscle, waste of Brain,
Waste of Patience, waste of Pain,
Waste of Manhood, waste of Health,
Waste of Beauty, waste of Wealth,
Waste of Blood, and waste of Tears,
Waste of Youth’s most precious years,
Waste of ways the Saints have trod,
Waste of Glory, waste of God,– War!

Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy,  known as ‘Woodbine Willie’ – the soldiers friend.

He was an Anglican priest and poet  who won a Military Cross for bravery as a Padre in the trenches – under fire in one of the bloodiest battles in history.  The name, ‘Woodbine Wille’, was something that Kennedy was very proud of because it grew from his work on troop trains when he’d pass out Bibles and cigarettes. He was a chain-smoker himself.

Tony is a Media Chaplain, Methodist Minister, broadcaster and author. Married with two children. Presenter with Premier Christian Radio and contributor to BBC Radio 2's Pause for Thought (5.45am).

7 Comments

  • Robert G. (Bob) Little

    June 20, 2011 at 12:53 am

    My Dad who served in World War I & II introduced me to “Woodbine Willy”. I had not heard thhis poem before but shall save it and read it at our Remnemberance Day Parade in November 2011.
    Many thanks.

    Bob Little
    Canada

  • Roy George

    July 31, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    My mother was in France in 1917/18 in Waac ,she was a waitress in the officers mess ,in her words she said , he was full of life and always kept the officers in good humour . She read many of his poems he left laying about in the ante room .roy

  • cate

    November 10, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    I was searching for this poem last week and couldn’t find it in a google search of his poems. So thank you very much for posting it. As tru now , if not truer than 100 years ago when the waste of wealth on war is in the billions , and the waste of health includes radiation and chemical damage , as well as untold harm to health of women and children civilians

  • K m peers

    August 19, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    I heard a poem attributed to woodbine willie I believe it is called “”And I’ll earn a soldiers rest”” It ain’t that I wants him to keep me safe while the other lads go down.It ain’t that I wants to leve this world or wear a Hero’s crown. That’s all I can remember so would be great full if any one can put me in the right place for it ,I have tried internet no joy

  • Tony

    August 31, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Not sure I have a copy. I will look around and see if I can locate it. If not, it might be worth contacting the clergy of Worcester Cathedral, or perhaps the British Library. Hope you find it! God bless, Tony

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