13 April 2016

One Last Shot on Patton and Poetry ... and Humor

U.S. Army Maj. George S. Patton during World War I
Blog-editor's note: It's still National Poetry Month, and Patton wrote poetry! Posted at Foreign Policy magazine's "Best Defense" blog yesterday, April 12, 2016, was an essay written by the author of the Red Bull Rising blog, titled "What Patton's Poems Tell Us about Today." (As a bonus, "Best Defense" journalist and mil-blogger Tom Ricks also posted a poem he wrote about the Iraq War: "Baghdad, April 2004.")

Offered below is an additional anecdote regarding Gen. George S. Patton's poetic life.


According to biographer Carlo D'Este ("Patton: A Genius for War", 1996) Patton was a dedicated practitioner of poetry, starting in his first years at Virginia Military Institute and West Point […]

One final war story: As a practical matter, Patton thought the memorization of poetry to be a brain exercise, and paid his daughters Beatrice and Ruth Ellen to memorize a poem per week. Ruth Ellen even once memorized one of Patton's own poems on reincarnation, and recited it at school. The poem "Mercenary's Song (A.D. 1600)" reads, in part:
In wantonness of appetite,
In women, wine and war,
In fire and blood and rapine
In these my pleasures are. […]

Then here's to blood and blasphemy!
And here's to whores and drink!
In life you know you're living
In death we only stink.
When the scandalized school teacher and headmaster sent his daughter home with a note, Beatrice observed to Patton that other parents were not quite so permissive as he.

Patton, writes biographer D'Este, thought it was hilarious.

Read "What Patton's Poems Tell Us about Today."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.