Poetry of the Forties

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Poetry of the Forties

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Penguin Books Ltd, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England «p

Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood, Victoria, Australia

First published 1968

Copyright © Robin Skelton, 1968

Made and printed in Great Britain by Cox & Wyman Ltd, London, Reading and Fakenham Set in Monotype Baskerville

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser









1940 Stephen Spender: June 1940 C. Day Lewis: Watching Post Louis MacNeice: Refugees W. H . Auden: The Dark Years

39 41 42 44

‘T H E E A R T H IS P A T I E N T . . . ’ George Barker: Elegy I 49 George Bruce: Inheritance 50 W. S. Graham: To M y Father 51 Alan Ross: Cricket at Brighton 52 Jane Moore: Victorian Paperweight 54 Roland Mathias: Pastorale 55 R. S. Thomas: Out of the Hills 57 R. S. Thomas: A Peasant 58 Ruthven Todd: Personal History 59 Norman Nicholson: Cockley Moor, Dockray, Penrith 61 Francis Scarfe: Tyne Dock 62 Alun Lewis: Corfe Castle 63 W. R. Rodgers: Stormy Day 64 Norman Nicholson: Early March 65 Laurie Lee: Day of These Days 66 Christopher Lee: Midsummer 1942 67 Norman McCaig: ‘The dizzy summer cal f . . 6 8



Laurie Lee: April Rise Dylan Thomas: Fern Hill Vernon Watkins: The Feather Lawrie Scarlett: The Islander W. S. Graham: Since A ll M y Steps Taken Anne Ridler: Kirkwall 1942 George Bruce: Kinnaird Head Sidney Keyes : William Wordsworth Norman Nicholson: Rock Face Paul Dehn: Spring Song, 1948 Dylan Thomas: Poem in October W. S. Graham: Listen. Put on Morning

69 70 72 73 74 75 75 76 77 77 78 80

‘T H A T B A T T L E - F I T W E L I V E D . . . ’ David Gascoyne: A Wartime Dawn Alun Lewis: All Day It Has Rained . . . Henry Reed: Lessons of the W ar J . F. Hendry: London Before Invasion: 1940 Mervyn Peake: Is There No Love Can Link Us ? Mervyn Peake: London, 1941 James Walker: Balloon Barrage Sean Jennet: Cycle: V I Dylan Thomas: A Refusal to Mourn George Barker: T o M y Mother Frank Thompson: London, 1940 David Gascoyne: Ecce Homo Sidney Keyes: W ar Poet Dorian Cooke: A Soldier, Dying of Wounds Roy Fuller: The Middle of a W ar F. T. Prince: Soldiers Bathing Patric Dickinson: Ultima Thule James Walker: Lying Awake Alan Ross: Survivors Alun Lewis: Goodbye 6

85 87 88 93 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 99 102 102 x03 104 106 107 109 no


N eil McCallum: Stand-to Alun Lewis: Bivouac Frank Thompson: Day’s Journey Ivor Roberts-Jones: Battalion H .Q ., Burma Richard Spender: Tunisian Patrol Alan Rook: Dunkirk Pier Keith Douglas: Simplify Me When I’m Dead James Monahan: The Album Sidney Keyes: Europe’s Prisoners Alex Comfort: Seventh Elegy Kathleen Raine: The End of Love Paul Widdows: Perspective Sean Jennet: Hereafter Roy Fuller: During a Bombardment by V-Weapons Patric Dickinson: War Paul Dehn: Armistice Dorian Cooke: Poem on Returning Home Patric Dickinson: A Warning to Politicians

iii 112 113 114 115 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 122 123 124 124 12 7

‘T H E T R A V E L L E R HAS R E G R E T S . . . ’ G. S. Fraser: The Traveller Has Regrets Terence Tiller: Spring Letter Terence Tiller: Egyptian Dancer Keith Douglas: Behaviour of Fish in an Egyptian T ea Garden G. S. Fraser: Egypt Reg Levy: Effort Robert Liddell: Dead Sea Plage Keith Douglas : Cairo Jag Patrick Anderson: Desert John Jarmain: Ring Plover at El Alamein R. N . Currey: Burial Flags, Sind K. R. Gray: Monsoon Robin Fedden: An Undistinguished Coast


131 132 134 136 137 138 138 139 140 140 142 143 144


Lawrence Durrell: This Unimportant Morning Bernard Spencer: On the Road Bernard Gutteridge: Tananarive Roy Fuller: The Giraffes Alun Lewis: The Mahratta Ghats D. J . Enright: By the Middle Sea Terence Tiller: Beggar J . C. Mollison: Mokomeh Ghat Bernard. Spencer: Greek Excavations Alexander Henderson: Sea of Marmora Emanuel Litvinoff: African Village Alun Lewis: The Jungle Wrey Gardiner: Wild Olive Lawrence Durrell: Phileremo Bernard Spencer: On a Carved Axle-piece from a Sicilian Cart Patrick Leigh-Fermor: Greek Archipelagoes Ernest Frost: Italy Keith Douglas: On a Return from Egypt Frank Thompson: De Amicitia

145 146 146 148 149 150 151 152 152 153 155 156 159 160 161 162 166 168 169

‘OPENING A W A Y T H R O U G H T I M E . . . ’ Francis King: Seance John Heath-Stubbs: Maria Aegyptiaca Drummond Allison: The Brass Horse Sidney Keyes: Troll Kings Norman Nicholson: Belshazzar John Bayliss : The Wreck Vernon Watkins: The Healing of the Leper W. R. Rodgers: Christ Walking on the Water John Bayliss: Seven Dreams Demetrios Capetanakis: Lazarus Patric Dickinson: Lust Henry Treece: Relics 8

173 174 175 176 177 178 180 181 183 185 186 187


Drummond Allison: Wade Demetrios Capetanakis: Abel Leonard Clark: Good Friday Sidney Keyes: Sour Land Francis King: The Patient Kathleen Raine: Envoi Laurie Lee: Bird Dylan Thomas: A Winter’s Tale Leonard Clark: Encounter Kathleen Raine: The Moment Julian Orde: The Changing Wind Kathleen Raine: Air Hal Summers: The Seed Kathleen Raine: Woman to Lover Henry Reed: The Wall Henry Treece: Three Pleas John Heath-Stubbs: The Divided Ways William Bell: On a Dying Boy Roland Gant: The Wedding John Heath-Stubbs : Drowned Man Vernon Watkins: Griefs of the Sea W. S. Graham: Men Sign the Sea George Barker: News of the World III

187 188 189 189 191 192 193 194 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 209 210 211 212 213 214

‘ N O W T H E R E IS N O T H I N G N E W . . / Roy Fuller: The Civilization Vernon Scannell: Aftermath William Bell: The Chief Stoker’s Song Michael Hamburger: From the Notebook of a European Tramp X I Roy Fuller: Virtue Julian Symons: Pub Nicholas Moore: Ideas of Disorder at Torquay Roy Fuller: The Photographs


219 220 221 222 223 223 225 227


Julian Symons: The Clock Demetrios Capetanakis: Detective Story Francis King: The Carcase Terence Tiller: Nocturnal III Bernard. Spencer: Out of Sleep Drummond Allison: A Great Unhealthy Friendship Peter Black: The Man in the Bowler Hat Kenneth Allott: Departure Platform W. R. Rodgers: Express David Paul: The Sleeping Passenger David Gascoyne: A Vagrant

228 229 230 231 232 232 233 234 235 236 237

1950 James Kirkup: Elegy for a Dead God George Barker: Channel Crossing Alex Comfort: From The Sleeping Princess

243 245 248


25I 261 265


Acknowledgements For permission to reprint poems in this anthology, acknowledgement is made to the following: For d r u m m o n d a l l i s o n : ‘ The Brass Horse’, ‘ Wade*, and ‘A Great Unhealthy Friendship*, from The Tellow Night, to Fortune Press Ltd. For k e n n e t h a l l o t t : ‘ Departure Platform’, to the author. For p a t r i g k a n d e r s o n : ‘Desert’, to the author. For w. h . a u d e n : ‘ The Dark Years’, from Collected Shorter Poems, 1927-1957, to Faber and Faber Ltd. For o e o r o e b a r k e r : ‘ Elegy I*, ‘ To My Mother’, ‘ News of the World III’, and ‘ Channel Crossing’, from Collected Poems 1930-55, to Faber and Faber Ltd. For j o h n b a y l i s s : ‘ The Wreck*, and ‘ SevenDreams’, to the author. For w i l l i a m b e l l : ‘ On a Dying Boy’, and ‘ The Chief Stoker’s Song ’, from Mountains Beneath the Horizon, 1950, to Faber and Faber Ltd. For d e m e t r i o s c a p e t a n a k i s : ‘ Lazarus’, ‘ Abel’, and ‘ Detective Story’, to John Lehmann.

ForLEONARDCLARK:‘ Good Friday ’, and ‘ Encounter ’, to the author. For a l e x c o m f o r t : ‘ Seventh Elegy’ from Elegies, 1944, and an extract from ‘ The Sleeping Princess’, from And A ll But He Departed, 1951, to Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd. For d o r i a n c o o k e : ‘ A Soldier, Dying of Wounds’, and ‘ Poem on Returning Home’, to the author. For r . n . c u r r e y : ‘ Burial Flags, Sind’, to the author. For p a u l d e h n : * Spring Song, 1948 and ‘ Armistice ’, from The Fern on the Rock, to the author and Hamish Hamilton Ltd. For p a t r i c d i c k i n s o n : ‘ Ultima Thule’, ‘ War’, ‘A Warning to Politicians’, and ‘ Lust’, to the author. For k e i t h d o u g l a s : ‘ Simplify Me When I’m Dead’, ‘Behaviour of Fish in an Egyptian Tea Garden’, ‘ Cairo Jag’, and ‘ On a Return from Egypt’, from Collected Poems, to Faber and Faber Ltd. For L a w r e n c e d u r r e l l : ‘ This Unimportant Morning’, and ‘ Phileremo’, from Collected Poems, to Faber and Faber Ltd.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS For d . j . e n r i o h t :* By the Middle Sea from The Laughing Hyena, to Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd. For r o b i n f e d d e n : ‘ An Undistinguished Coast*, to the author. For g . s . f r a s e r : ‘ The Traveller Has Regrets’, and ‘ Egypt*, to the author. For e r n e s t f r o s t : ‘ Italy*, to the author. (This poem was first published in Four in Hand . . . an Excursion, Three Arts Club, Naples, 1945.) For r o y f u l l e r : ‘ The Middle of a War’, ‘During a Bombardment by V-Weapons’, ‘ The Giraffes*, ‘The Civilization*, ‘ Virtue*, and ‘ The Photographs ’, from Collected Poems 1936-61, to André Deutsch Ltd. For r o l a n d g a n t : ‘ The Wedding*, to the author. For w r e y g a r d i n e r : ‘ Wild Olive*, to the author. For D A V I D g a s c o y n e : ‘A Wartime Dawn*, ‘ Ecce Homo*, and ‘A Vagrant ’, fromCollected Poems, 1965, to Oxford University Press Ltd. For w. s. g r a h a m : ‘ T o My Father*, ‘Since All My Steps Taken*, ‘ Listen. Put on Morning*, and ‘ Men Sign the Sea*, all from The White Threshold, 1949, to Faber and Faber Ltd. For b e r n a r d g u t t e r i d g e : ‘Tananarive*, to the author. For m i c h a e l h a m b u r g e r : ‘ From the Notebook of a European Tramp XI *, to the author. For j o h n h e a t h - s t u b b s : ‘ Maria Aegyptiaca*, ‘ The Divided Ways ’, and ‘ Drowned Man *, from Selected Poems, 1965, to the author and Oxford University Press Ltd. For a l e x a n d e r h e n d e r s o n : ‘ Sea of Marmora*, from The Tunnelled Fire, to the author and Seeker and Warburg Ltd. For j . f . h e n d r y : ‘ London Before Invasion 1940’, from The Bombed Happiness, 1942, to Roudedge and Kegan Paul Ltd. For s e a n j e n n e t : ‘ Cycle: V I ’, and ‘Hereafter’, from The Cloth o f Flesh, to Faber and Faber Ltd. For s i d n e y k e y e s : ‘ William Wordsworth’, ‘War Poet’, ‘ Europe’s Prisoners’, ‘ Troll Kings', and ‘ Sour Land’, from Collected Poems, *945» to Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd. For f r a n c i s k i n g : ‘ The Patient’, to the author; for ‘ Seance’ and ‘ The Carcase’, from Rod o f Incantation, to Longmans Green and Co. Ltd. For j a m e s k i r k u p : ‘ Elegy for a Dead God’, to the author. For C h r i s t o p h e r l e e : ‘ Midsummer 1942’ and ‘ Trahison des Clercs’ (the latter quoted in the introduction to this book), from Under the Sun, 1948, to the author and The Bodley Head Ltd. For l a u r i e l e e : ‘ Day of These Days’, ‘ April Rise*, and ‘Bird',


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS from The Bloom o f Candles, John Lehmann Ltd, 1947, to the author and Laurence Pollinger Ltd. For P a t r i c k l e i o h - f e r m o r : ‘ Greek Archipelagoes’, to the author and John Murray Ltd. For a l u n l e w i s : ‘ Corfe Castle*, and ‘ All Day it has Rained’, from Raiders Dawn, 1942, and ‘ Goodbye’, ‘ Bivouac’, ‘ The Mahratta Ghats’, and ‘ The Jungle’, from H a! H a! Among the Trumpets, 1945, to George Allen and Unwin Ltd. For c. d a y l e w i s : ‘ Watching Post’, from Collected Poems 1954, and ‘ Where are the War Poets ? * (the latter quoted in the introduction to this book), to Jonathan Cape Ltd. For r o b e r t l i d d e l l : ‘ Dead Sea Plage*, and ‘ On a War Poet’ (the latter quoted in the introduction to this book), to the author. For e m a n u e l l i t v i n o f f : ‘African Village’, to the author. For l o u i s m a c n e i c e : ‘ Refugees’, from Collected Poems, to Faber and Faber Ltd. For n o r m a n m c c a i o: ‘ The dizzy summer calf’, from Far Cry, 1943, to Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd. For n e i l m c c a l l u m : ‘ Stand-To ’, to the author and Curtis Brown Ltd. For j . c. m o l l i s o n : ‘ Mokomeh Ghat’, to the author. For j a m e s m o n a h a n : ‘ The Album’, to the author. For N i c h o l a s m o o r e : ‘ Ideas of Disorder at Torquay’, from The Cabaret, the Dancer, the Gentlemen, 1942, to Fortune Press Ltd. For n o r m a n n i c h o l s o n : ‘ Cockley Moor’, and ‘Belshazzar’, from Five Rivers, and ‘ Rock Face ’, and ‘ Early March ’, from Rock Face, to Faber and Faber Ltd. For j u l i a n o r d e : ‘ The Changing Wind’, to the author. For m e r v y n p e a k e : ‘ Is There No Love Can Link Us? ’, and ‘ London 1941 from Shapes and Sounds, 1941, to the author and Chatto and Windus Ltd. For f . t . p r i n c e : ‘ Soldiers Bathing’, from The Doors o f Stone, Poems 1938-62, 1963, to the author and Rupert Hart-Davis Ltd. For K a t h l e e n r a i n b : ‘ The Moment’, ‘ The End of Love’, ‘ Envoi’, ‘A ir’, and ‘ Woman to Lover’, all from Collected Poems, 1956, to the author and Hamish Hamilton Ltd. For h e n r y r e e d : ‘ Lessons of the War’, and ‘ The Wall’, from