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Thinking of Ireland in January, 1976, 1976 (GU, 2/2/12)

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF
Medium 9781847772114

The Somme Still Flows

Blunden, Edmund Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF



t was a sunny morning, that of July 1st, 1916. The right notes for it would have been the singing of blackbirds and the ringing of the blacksmith’s anvil. But, as the world soon knew, the music of that sunny morning was the guns.

They had never spoken before with so huge a voice. Their sound crossed the sea. In Southdown villages the schoolchildren sat wondering at that incessant drumming and the rattling of the windows. That night an even greater anxiety than usual forbade wives and mothers to sleep. The Battle of the Somme had begun.

This battle on the southern part of the British line overshadowed everything else. Even Ypres fell quiet. The three nations most prominently concerned on the Western Front concentrated their force in the once serene farmlands of

Picardy. Their armies had arrived at a wonderful pitch of physical and spiritual strength. They were great organizations of athletes, willing to attempt any test that might be ordered. If the men of the Somme were probably unrivalled by any earlier armies, the materials and preparations of the battle were not less extraordinary. Railways, roads, motor transport, mules, water supply, aircraft, guns, mortars, wire, grenades, timber, rations, camps, telegraphic systems – all multiplied as in some absurd vision. Many of you who are reading now still feel the fever of that gathering typhoon.

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In the Night

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

For I would travel from the mind

And move beyond the intellect

And search and search until I find

Identity clear in total act;

Then learn how landscape is combined

With images we mint and make

From the mind’s fret and the bones’ ache.

And I would feel the invading vision

Without a self to stand and watch,

Without these hands to trap and touch;

Bodiless I would prove my passion

By learning the character of each

Landscape or person that I love,

Clothing them only with contemplation.

Out of this will to be beyond

Myself I come, return again

Into the struggling thoughts within

The boundaries of my own mind.

Yet something of those loves, that land

Batters and batters on my thought,

And, once more separate in the heart,

I feel the images that strained

Within me join the landscape drained

Of everything but its own light.

In the Night

Out of my window late at night I gape

And see the stars but do not watch them really,

And hear the trains but do not listen clearly;

Inside my mind I turn about to keep

Myself awake, yet am not there entirely.

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Ward, David C. Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF
Medium 9781847770684


Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

A Kind of Catalogue

Item, a cloud, and how it changes shape,

Now a pink balloon, then a white shift

From a Victorian doll. The forms won’t keep

One pattern long. Item, a flow of wind

Carrying dust and paper, gathering up

Rose petals. Item, a command of sun

Subtly presented on a lifted face,

A shaft of light on leaves, darkness undone

And packed away. Item, limbs moved with grace,

Turning the air aside. Item, my own

Observations, now Lot This, Lot That

Ready for an unseen auctioneer.

The bidders are half-conscious choices met

To haggle. Signs are made, sometimes I hear

My whisper bidding for Lot This, Lot That.


The hallowed, the special flyer, I mean the sparrow,

A flash of feathers and tiny body, a quick

Nerve, a spirit of speed and certainly one

To copy when you are tempted to turn from the sun.

Sparrow of ‘special providence’ teach to us

Your joy, your gladness, your success, for you

Live in accord with that power which moves

You fast and far. Your flights and pauses bring

Delight to us. We are not surprised you were chosen

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