Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy
Biography of Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy
Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy, MC (June 27, 1883 - March 8, 1929), was an Anglican priest and poet. He was nicknamed 'Woodbine Willie' during World War I for giving Woodbine cigarettes along with spiritual aid to injured and dying soldiers.
Born in Leeds in 1883, Kennedy was the seventh of nine children born to Jeanette Anketell and William Studdert Kennedy, a vicar in Leeds. He was educated at Leeds Grammar School and Trinity College, Dublin, where he gained a degree in classics and divinity in 1904.
After a year's training, he became a curate in Rugby and then, in 1914, the vicar of St. Pauls, Worcester. On the outbreak of war, Kennedy volunteered as a chaplain to the armed forces on the Western Front, where he gained the nickname 'Woodbine Willie'. In 1917, he won the Military Cross at Messines Ridge after running into no man's land to help the wounded during an attack on the German frontline. He wrote a number of poems about his experiences, and these appeared in the books Rough Rhymes of a Padre (1918), and More Rough Rhymes (1919).
After the war, Kennedy was given charge of St. Edmund King and Martyr in Lombard Street, London. Having been converted to Christian socialism and pacifism during the war, he wrote Lies (1919), Democracy and the Dog-Collar (1921) (featuring such chapters as "The Church Is Not a Movement but a Mob," "Capitalism is Nothing But Greed, Grab, and Profit-Mongering," and "So-Called Religious Education Worse than Useless"), Food for the Fed Up (1921), The Wicket Gate (1923), and The Word and the Work (1925). He moved to work for the Industrial Christian Fellowship, for whom he went on speaking tours of Britain. It was on one of these tours that he was taken ill, and died in Liverpool.
He is mentioned in the Divine Comedy song "Absent Friends": "Woodbine Willie couldn't sleep until he'd/given every bloke a final smoke/before the killing."
Kennedy is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on March 8.
Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy's Works:
* The Unutterable Beauty Diggory Press
Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy Poems
Our Padre were a solemn bloke, We called 'im dismal Jim. It fairly gave ye t' bloomin' creeps, To sit and 'ark at 'im,
My brethren, the ways of God No man can understand, We can but wait in awe and watch The wonders of His hand.
I Know Not Where They Have Laid Him
I wouldn't mind if I only knowed The spot where they'd laid my lad; If I could see where they'd buried 'im,
They gave me this name like their nature, Compacted of laughter and tears, A sweet that was born of the bitter,
There was rapture of spring in the morning When we told our love in the wood, For you were the spring in my heart, dear lad.
You were askin' 'ow we sticks it, Sticks this blarsted rain and mud, 'Ow it is we keeps on smilin' When the place runs red wi' blood.
What's The Use Of A Cross To 'Im?
Parson says I'm to make 'im a cross To set up over his grave, 'E's buried there by the Moated Grange, And I 'ad a damn close shave,
What's The Good?
Well, I've done my bit o' scrappin', And I've done in quite a lot; Nicked 'em neatly wiv my bayonet, So I needn't waste a shot.
There's another gorn to glory! Damn and blast these blinkin' 'Uns! Where's our damn retaliation?
To Stretcher Bearers
Easy does it — bit o' trench 'ere, Mind that blinkin' bit o' wire, There's a shell 'ole on your left there, Lift 'im up a little 'igher.
There's a soul in the Eternal, Standing stiff before the King. There's a little English maiden Sorrowing.
When there ain't no gal to kiss you, And the postman seems to miss you, And the fags have skipped an issue, Carry on.
Solomon In All His Glory
Still I see them coming, coming, In their ragged broken line, Walking wounded in the sunlight, Clothed in majesty divine.
There's a Jerry over there, Sarge ! Can't you see 'is big square 'ead ? If 'e bobs it up again there,
There was rapture of spring in the morning
When we told our love in the wood,
For you were the spring in my heart, dear lad.
And I vowed that my life was good.
But there's winter of war in the evening,
And lowering clouds overhead,
There's wailing of wind in the chimney nook,
And I vow that my life lies dead.
For the sun may shine on the meadow lands