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PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 3:55 pm 
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I liked the question form - youre right abput the article!


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 8:44 pm 
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Philip Larkin
MCMXIV:

Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;

And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day;

And the countryside not caring
The place-names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat's restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;

Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word--the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 9:41 am 
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Location: Sheffield, UK
Just bought From Oasis into Italy on eBay. It's another anthology of the Oasis poets from Egypt during WWII. I'll post some of the good 'uns when it arrives.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 11:02 am 
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Great! Let's hppe we get some goodies like last time!


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:16 am 
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I've also gone and bought another book of poetry on eBay - a first edition of Poems by Terence Tiller, another one of the Cairo poets. It was going cheap.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 3:16 pm 
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Loads to look forward to then?
:lol:


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2008 7:14 pm 
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Sadly, From Oasis to Italy doesn't appear to have as many choice poems as Return to Oasis. Here's one of the better ones:

Naples - C Carter

The autumnal city in decay
With whitening rain on the darkening street,
Moves in a slow withdrawing way
Into the muddle turmoil of defeat.

No longer Ethiopian kings,
Those Eritrean dreams, and Libyan sand,
Distract her hand from humbler things,
Like bread and houses in a crumbling land.

For now the shoeless children brood
In sodden coats beneath some dripping arch,
And lift their unwashed hands for food
To alien armies pausing on their march.

The armies pass, and evening falls,
On un-sexed women and pride-broken men,
While crumbling mortar from the halls
Of outgrown power breaks loosely, now and then.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2008 7:21 pm 
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Location: Sheffield, UK
Vineyard Reverie - John Strick

A lemon-coloured house, lying
Cross-wise upon the rising slopes;
Vine-green, wine-red, always
A column of sweet smoke
Rising, rising, and the broad
Blue water of the Southern sea.

Who came here, and why, and when?
Whose voice calling in the vineyard?
Where are those who lived here?
What memory have they carried
Into the dim land whence
They are departed?

The Germans were here, grey-faced,
Grim-helmeted, their guns
Remain behind the balustrade, round
The corner of the road.
A thick, black-barrelled tube
Lurks in the alley-way.

The beach is attractive, opalescent water,
And the cold, clear virility
Of the mountain stream,
Piles of 'S' mines, plates
And tapes - the strange silence
Of deserted fortifications - unused.

Blood has sunk into soil,
This year the new wine
Stamped under boot, is richer.
Children gaze with saucer eyes,
'Sicilia bara' - jump and run
Playing dive-bombers in the glittering sun.

Yes now, look now!
There is a house standing.
Yes, this was Messina,
Stone on stone -
They say it was
A large and prosperous city.


Not perfect - it has its choices of obvious words. But it gets there in the end.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2008 8:31 pm 
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They are reasonable.
But attrarctive opalescent water - wince!


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 7:37 pm 
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The Poet Laureate's tribute to Harry Pawtch, the last surviving fighting Tommy. I read the book about harry Patch and it is wonderful how Motion has managed to work Harry's experience's into the poem:

The Five Acts of Harry Patch
'The Last Fighting Tommy'
by Andrew Motion

I.

A curve is a straight line caught bending
and this one runs under the kitchen window
where the bright eyes of your mum and dad
might flash any minute and find you down
on all fours, stomach hard to the ground,
slinking along a furrow between the potatoes
and dead set on a prospect of rich pickings,
the good apple trees and plum trees and pears,
anything sweet and juicy you might now be
able to nibble around the back and leave
hanging as though nothing were amiss,
if only it were possible to stand upright
in so much clear light and with those eyes
beady in the window and not catch a packet.

II.

Patch, Harry Patch, that's a good name,
Shakespearean, it might be one of Hal's men
at Agincourt or not far off, although in fact
it starts life and belongs in Combe Down
with your dad's trade in the canary limestone
which turns to grey and hardens when it meets
the light, perfect for Regency Bath and you too
since no one these days thinks about the danger
of playing in quarries when the workmen go,
not even of prodding and pelting with stones
the wasps' nests perched on rough ledges
or dropped from the ceiling on curious stalks
although god knows it means having to shift
tout suite and still get stung on arms and faces.

III.

First the hard facts of not wanting to fight,
and the kindness of deciding to shoot men
in the legs but no higher unless needs must,
and the liking among comrades which is truly
deep and wide as love without that particular name,
then Pilckem Ridge and Langemarck and across
the Steenbeek since none of the above can change
what comes next, which is a lad from A Company
shrapnel has ripped open from shoulder to waist
who tells you "Shoot me", but is good as dead
already, and whose final word is "Mother",
which you hear because you kneel to hold
one finger of his hand, and then remember orders
to keep pressing on, support the infantry ahead.

IV.

After the big crowd to unveil the memorial
and no puff left in the lungs to sing O valiant hearts
or say aloud the names of friends and one cousin,
the butcher and chimney sweep, a farmer, a carpenter,
work comes up the Wills Tower in Bristol and there
thunderstorms are a danger, so bad that lightning
one day hammers Great George and knocks down
the foreman who can't use his hand three weeks
later as you recall, along with the way that strike
burned all trace of oxygen from the air, it must have,
given the definite stink of sulphur and a second
or two later the gusty flap of a breeze returning
along with rooftops below, and moss, and rain
fading over the green Mendip Hills and blue Severn.

V.

You grow a moustache, check the mirror, notice
you're forty years old, then next day shave it off,
check the mirror again - and see you're seventy,
but life is like that now, suddenly and gradually
everyone you know dies and still comes to visit
or you head back to them, it's not clear which
only where it happens: a safe bedroom upstairs
by the look of things, although when you sit late
whispering with the other boys in the Lewis team,
smoking your pipe upside-down to hide the fire,
and the nurses on night duty bring folded sheets
to store in the linen cupboard opposite, all it takes
is someone switching on the light - there is that flash,
or was until you said, and the staff blacked the window.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:18 pm 
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http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/no ... drewmotion

here's a link to an article by Andrew Motion describing a meeting with Harry Patch. Great stuff!


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:36 pm 
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I looked up Michael Longley who is mentioned in the article and found this:

Poppies (by Michael Longley)


I
Some people tried to stop other people wearing poppies
And ripped them from lapels as though uprooting poppies
From Flanders Fields, but others hid inside their poppies
Razor blades and added to their poppies more red poppies.


II
In Royal Avenue they tossed in the air with so much joy
Returning wounded soldiers, their stitches burst for joy.


(from The Ghost Orchid, 1995)


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2008 7:39 pm 
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THE CHILDREN

( "The Honours of War" - A Diversity of Creatures )

These were our children who died for our lands: they were dear in our sight.
We have only the memory left of their home-treasured sayings and laughter.
The price of our loss shall be paid to our hands, not another's hereafter.
Neither the Alien nor Priest shall decide it. That is our right.
But who shall return us the children?

At the hour the Barbarian chose to disclose his pretences,
And raged against Man, they engaged, on the breasts that they bared for us,
The first felon-stroke of the sword he had long-time prepared for us,
Their bodies were all our defence while we wrought our defences.

They bought us anew with their blood, forbearing to blame us,
Those hours which we had not made good when the Judgement o'ercame us.

They believed us and perished for it. Our statecraft, our learning Delivered them bound to the Pit and alive to the burning Whither they mirthfully hastened as jostling for honour -Not since her birth has our Earth seen such worth loosed upon her.

Nor was their agony brief, or once only imposed on them.
The wounded, the war-spent, the sick received no exemption:
Being cured they returned and endured and achieved our redemption,
Hopeless themselves of relief, till Death, marvelling, closed on them.

That flesh we had nursed from the first in all cleanness was given
To corruption unveiled and assailed by the malice of Heaven -
By the heart-shaking jests of Decay where it lolled on the wires -
To be blanched or gay-painted by fumes - to be cindered by fires -
To be senselessly tossed and retossed in stale mutilation
From crater to crater. For this we shall take expiation.
But who shall return us our children?

Rudyard Kipling.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 1:30 pm 
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Wilfred Owen
Spring Offensive
Halted against the shade of a last hill,
They fed, and, lying easy, were at ease
And, finding comfortable chests and knees
Carelessly slept. But many there stood still
To face the stark, blank sky beyond the ridge,
Knowing their feet had come to the end of the world.
Marvelling they stood, and watched the long grass swirled
By the May breeze, murmurous with wasp and midge,
For though the summer oozed into their veins
Like the injected drug for their bones' pains,
Sharp on their souls hung the imminent line of grass,
Fearfully flashed the sky's mysterious glass.

Hour after hour they ponder the warm field —
And the far valley behind, where the buttercups
Had blessed with gold their slow boots coming up,
Where even the little brambles would not yield,
But clutched and clung to them like sorrowing hands;
They breathe like trees unstirred.

Till like a cold gust thrilled the little word
At which each body and its soul begird
And tighten them for battle. No alarms
Of bugles, no high flags, no clamorous haste —
Only a lift and flare of eyes that faced
The sun, like a friend with whom their love is done.
O larger shone that smile against the sun, —
Mightier than his whose bounty these have spurned.

So, soon they topped the hill, and raced together
Over an open stretch of herb and heather
Exposed. And instantly the whole sky burned
With fury against them; and soft sudden cups
Opened in thousands for their blood; and the green slopes
Chasmed and steepened sheer to infinite space.

Of them who running on that last high place
Leapt to swift unseen bullets, or went up
On the hot blast and fury of hell's upsurge,
Or plunged and fell away past this world's verge,
Some say God caught them even before they fell.

But what say such as from existence' brink
Ventured but drave too swift to sink.
The few who rushed in the body to enter hell,
And there out-fiending all its fiends and flames
With superhuman inhumanities,
Long-famous glories, immemorial shames —
And crawling slowly back, have by degrees
Regained cool peaceful air in wonder —
Why speak they not of comrades that went under?


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 5:07 pm 
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BBC Radio 4 had an excellent programme about Isaac Rosenberg today. This poem was recited very movingly:

Dead Man's Dump


The plunging limbers over the shattered track
Racketed with their rusty freight,
Stuck out like many crowns of thorns,
And the rusty stakes like sceptres old
To stay the flood of brutish men
Upon our brothers dear.

The wheels lurched over sprawled dead
But pained them not, though their bones crunched,
Their shut mouths made no moan.
They lie there huddled, friend and foeman,
Man born of man, and born of woman,
And shells go crying over them
From night till night and now.

Earth has waited for them,
All the time of their growth
Fretting for their decay:
Now she has them at last!
In the strength of their strength
Suspended--stopped and held.

What fierce imaginings their dark souls lit?
Earth! have they gone into you!
Somewhere they must have gone,
And flung on your hard back
Is their soul's sack
Emptied of God-ancestralled essences.
Who hurled them out? Who hurled?

None saw their spirits' shadow shake the grass,
Or stood aside for the half used life to pass
Out of those doomed nostrils and the doomed mouth,
When the swift iron burning bee
Drained the wild honey of their youth.

What of us who, flung on the shrieking pyre,
Walk, our usual thoughts untouched,
Our lucky limbs as on ichor fed,
Immortal seeming ever?
Perhaps when the flames beat loud on us,
A fear may choke in our veins
And the startled blood may stop.

The air is loud with death,
The dark air spurts with fire,
The explosions ceaseless are.
Timelessly now, some minutes past,
Those dead strode time with vigorous life,
Till the shrapnel called `An end!'
But not to all. In bleeding pangs
Some borne on stretchers dreamed of home,
Dear things, war-blotted from their hearts.

Maniac Earth! howling and flying, your bowel
Seared by the jagged fire, the iron love,
The impetuous storm of savage love.
Dark Earth! dark Heavens! swinging in chemic smoke,
What dead are born when you kiss each soundless soul
With lightning and thunder from your mined heart,
Which man's self dug, and his blind fingers loosed?

A man's brains splattered on
A stretcher-bearer's face;
His shook shoulders slipped their load,
But when they bent to look again
The drowning soul was sunk too deep
For human tenderness.

They left this dead with the older dead,
Stretched at the cross roads.

Burnt black by strange decay
Their sinister faces lie,
The lid over each eye,
The grass and coloured clay
More motion have than they,
Joined to the great sunk silences.

Here is one not long dead;
His dark hearing caught our far wheels,
And the choked soul stretched weak hands
To reach the living word the far wheels said,
The blood-dazed intelligence beating for light,
Crying through the suspense of the far torturing wheels
Swift for the end to break
Or the wheels to break,
Cried as the tide of the world broke over his sight.

Will they come? Will they ever come?
Even as the mixed hoofs of the mules,
The quivering-bellied mules,
And the rushing wheels all mixed
With his tortured upturned sight.
So we crashed round the bend,
We heard his weak scream,
We heard his very last sound,
And our wheels grazed his dead face.

Isaac Rosenberg


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