Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A Poem for November 11th

We tend to think of the First World War poets on Remembrance Day. But there were some pretty good Second World War poets, too, the best of them being Keith Douglas (killed, aged 24, shortly after D-Day) and Sidney Keyes (killed in action in Tunisia, aged 20). Keyes is the less well-known of the two. Here is his magnificent elegy in memory of William Wordsworth:

No room for mourning: he's gone out
Into the noisy glen, or stands between the stones
Of the broken ridge, or you'll hear his shout
Rolling among the screes, he being a boy again.
He'll never fail nor die
And if they laid his bones
In the granite vaults or iron sarcophagi
Of fame, he'd rise at the first summer rain
And stride across the hills to seek
His rest among the bony lands and clouds.
He was a stormy day, a wet peak
Spearing the sky; and look, about its base
Words flower like crocuses in the gaunt woods,
Blank though the dalehead and the hanging face.

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