About this poet

Jessie Pope was born in 1868 in Leicester, England. She studied at the North London Collegiate School for Girls. She began writing articles and light, often humorous verse for Punch magazine and other popular publications. She is best known for her poetry of World War I, published in Jessie Pope’s War Poems (G. Richards, 1915) and More War Poems (G. Richards, 1915). Though Pope was widely read during the war, she is often vilified now for her poetry’s light-hearted, pro-war sentiments, especially in comparison to contemporaries such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. She died on December 14, 1941, in Devon, England.

The Longest Odds

Leonidas of Sparta, years gone by,
    With but a bare three hundred of his braves,
In the ravine of famed Thermopylæ
    Held up the Persian army’s endless waves.
Smiling, among the forest of his spears,
    “Lay down your arms,” the haughty Xerxes cried.
The Spartan’s answer echoes down the years,
    “Come here and take them!” So they fought, and died.

Horatius—the odds grow longer now—
    With two bold friends, Lars Porsena defied.
That dauntless trio registered a vow
    To hold the bridge that stemmed the Tiber’s tide.
Their deed of valous makes our bosoms glow,
    A deed which poets and chroniclers relate.
Three heroes held in check a bitter foe
    And saved their city from a cruel fate.

One Highlander—the longest odds of all—
    One man alone, when all the rest were slain,
Carried the Maxim through the bullet squall,
    And set it spitting at the foe again.
Under its hail the Germans broke, they fled.
    One man, one gun, and yet they would not stay!
Riddled with shot, his comrades found him dead.
    Dead? No! That Hieland laddie lives for aye.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Jessie Pope

Jessie Pope was born in 1868 in Leicester, England. She is best known for her poetry of World War I, published in Jessie Pope’s War Poems (G. Richards, 1915) and More War Poems (G. Richards, 1915). Pope died in 1941 in Devon, England.

by this poet

poem
Darkness—expectant, discreet—
    Only a lamp here and there,
Gloom in the clattering street,
    Stygian black in the square;
Dazzling fascias and fronts,
    Scintillant sky-scrapers banished,
Snuffed and shut down are the spangles of Town.
            London has vanished.

Only a few months ago
    London woke
poem
Not theirs the popular uniform
That takes the feminine heart by storm,
And wins soft glances, shy or warm,
        The perquisites of pluck.
But theirs the commonplace city kit,
With a blue and white stripe round the sleeve of it,
And a stout little truncheon to do the trick,
         If ever they have the luck
poem
Goliath was a giant, the bully of his side,
His coat of mail was brazen, his face was fierce with pride;
And when a shepherd stripling to challenge him was fain,
Eleven-foot Goliath ignored him in disdain.

But David didn’t trouble, his heart was cool and glad,
Though a sling and rounded pebbles were the only