HENRY REED, Royal Art Dunkirk, Alan ROSS, Ox Royal Navy, John ROPES, Division Canadian Army, St John's College, Alan ROOK, empty places, Western Desert, wave on wave, silent song, VERNON SCANNELL, Illuminating, cocking-piece, John Charles
POEMS O F THE SECOND World War
The Oasis Selection Editor-in-Chief' Victor Selwyn Editon Erik de Mauny, Ian Fletcher, Norman Morris Advisen Field Marshal Lord Carver, General Sir John
Hackett Harnish Henderson, William E.
Morris Dent: London and Melbourne EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY in association with THE SALAMANDER OASIS TRUST
First published in Great Britain
1985 O Selection,introductory material
and notes, The Salamander Oasis Trust 1985 All rights reserved No part of this publication may bereproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of J M Dent & Sons Ltd This book is set in 10 on 11 VIP Bembo by D P Media Limited, Hitchin, Hertfordshire Printed in Great Britain by Richar d Clay (The Chaucer Press) Ltd,\for J M Dent & Sons Ltd Aldine House, 33 Welbeck Street, London WlM 8LX This book if bound as a paperback is subject to the condition that it may not be issued on loan or otherwise except in its original binding British Library
Cataloguing in Publication Data Poems of the Second World War :the Oasis selection I Selwyn, Victor 821' 914'08 PR6069 E3821 ISBN 0-460-10432-2 ISBN 0-460-01432-.3 Pbk The compilation of this Anthology is the copyright of The Salamander Oasis Trust Every endeavour has been made by the Trust to contact poets, who have been previously published, and their publishers Where the Trust has established the holder of copyright of a specificpoem, this has been indicated in Acknowledgements, together with permission to publish The Trust retains copyright of poems first published in its books, RETURN TO OASIS (1980)and FROM OASIS INTO ITALY (1983), and the poems not p~eviously published in this anthology, except where the poet has written otherwise This is also indicated in the Acknowledgements
HENRY REED 39
Lessons o f the War ( T o Alan Michell) Vixi due1li.snuper id0neu.s Et rnilitavi non .sineglovia I -Naming ofparts Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday, We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning, We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day, To-day we have naming of parts. Japonica Glistens like coral in all of'the neighbouring gardens And today we have naming of parts. This is the lower sling swivel. And this Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel, Which in your case you have not got. The branches Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures, Which in our case we have not got. This is the safety-catch, which is always released With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see Any of them using their finger. And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slideit Rapidly backwards and forwards; we call this Easing the spring..And rapidly backwards and forwards The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers: They call it easing the Spring
HENRY REED, VERNON SCANNELL They call it easing the Spring; it is perfectly easy If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt, And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance, Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom Silent in all of'the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards, For today we have naming of'parts.
$".??U: a' '
War Song A lesson that their children knew by heart Where it lay stonily in that September. Conscripted man, anonymous in hot Brown or blue, intoned his rank and number. The discs, strung from his neck, no amulet Against the ache of loss, were worn in darkness Under grave blankets in the narrow cot After the bugle's skirmish with night's silence. In trembling cities civil sleep was probed By the wild sirens7blind and wounded howling; White searchlightshosed the sky; black planets throbbed; All night all buildings put on total mourning. And when dawn yawned, the washed skies were afloat With silver saveloys whose idle motion And conference with puffed clouds appeared to mock Bereaving night and morning's lamentation And then, down country lanes, the crop-haired sons And nephews of the skeletons of Flanders Made siance of their march, as, on their tongues, The old ghosts sang again of Tipperary, Packing kit-bags, getting back to Blighty, But soon, bewildered, sank back to their graves When other songs were bawled - ajaunty music With false, bragging words: The Siegfried Line Transformed with comic washing hanging from it,
HENRY REED 221 Henry Reed The Place and the Person The place not worth describing, but like every empty place. SO much like other empty places, you yourself ~ u sptaint its picture, who have your own such places, m i c h lie, their whitening eyes turned upwards to the sky, On the remoter side of a continent. Under a burning sun. Their streets and hovels Have lost all memory, and their harbours rot. Paint it, and vary it as you like, but only Always paint this: the solitary figure, Who lies or squats or sits, facing the sun, Now in bewilderment or a vacant calm, In filthy rags, the ancient garb of exiles, The casual mixture of others7memories, Legacy or theft; and the mind perplexed and eroded. In such a one, at the edge ofhis world, desire Is buried or burned in lust, and love is banished Beyond the creepingjungle; in the noontime heat, Since even these can be lost, they are far away. You will know all this, and can paint it as suits you best, But paint alone the central figure faithfully; His surroundings do not matter: they are yours or mine, The walls perhaps with greying notices Of the bygone sales of heifers, or the concourse Ofa troupe of vanished singers, singing the~e, The carrion birds shuffling upon the roof, The empty expanse of ocean confronting him, The harbour steps, the empty sands below, And the movement of water on the harbour bar. And from the emptiness, still mute but moving, Emerge the dancers who will not be still. Nearest at hand two scuffling figures, who Saunter a little and scuffle again and dance, Or lie on the paving-stones and yawn at each other, A daily ritual; if'not with them, with others. This is a dance, with ritual and celebration.
Others join in its windings as the day Passes through noon and afternoon and evening And wave on wave ofheat and sunlight fall, Illuminating and transfixing, and at last The dreadful pattern of their lives disclosing. From out of'rocks and paths they come, the dancers One who walks solitary and shuns the gaze Of the scuffling pair, now languid in the heat, Until, withdrawn, he looks about and secretly Seizinga dead shark's jawbone out of'air, Makes it a trap with stones and vegetation For yet another who walks on the level beaches. They congregate, beseeching or resentful, Till the empty place is crowded with silent ghosts, They are intangible, but he is one with them, As with their proud, vindictive admonitions, And sensual taunts, and gestures of possession, They separate, part, return, link arms again, Familiarly, yet not with reconcilement. And, one with them, he cannot turn away, Or forget in the motions of song and prayer and dan The great dried fountains of their sombre eyes. Fed 6n such visions, how shall a man recover Between the dancing dream and the dream of depart For the dancers go, and their silent song and prayer Go with them; and the ship goes from the harbour, Vanishes in sea, or drowns in air, but goes. The waves of'noon can barely reach the shore, And the,jungle approaches always a little nearer. This is the captive. And paint him as you will. These are my images. The place not worth describing.
John PUDNEY: Born 1909. Gresham School, Holt,
Chronicle 1 9 3 7 4 . .RAF Squadron Leader, 1940-5. Bo
Express, 1947-9; Wrote 'For Johnny' on back of' e
London air raid 1941. OfficialHistorian on Battle ofMalta . Die
M. RAWLINSON: with Royal Tank Reg . ,Western Desert
, 8th Henry REED: Born 1914,Birmingham University
. Journalist a ter before the war.. Called up in the Army, 1941, Royal Arm nance Corps, but released to work at the Foreign Office. Rad after the war..
Anthony RICHARDSON: Flight Lieutenant, RAFVR.
Michael RIVIERE: Commissioned in the Sherwood Yeomanry.. Taken prisoner in Crete 1June 1941;after escapi with sixty other British officers
from Eichstatt in Bavar~a,se Colditz (Oflag IV C ) . Mentioned in despatches..
R.M. ROBERTS: Born 1909..Royal Signals in Western Des Italy. Post-war built up furniture and clothing store in Burnley,
Newman ROBINSON: Served with South Africa
n Medical (LICpl),taken POW, Western Desert..Wrote reminiscences In (Macmillan SA 1975).
Alan ROOK: Born 1909. Uppingham and Oxford. Royal Art Dunkirk, Major, with 6th AA Division..Later invalided out..Ed the Oxford Magazine Kingdom Come with Henry Treece..
John ROPES, OBE: Served in Western Desert.. Brigadier at Cairo; put on entertainments for the troops.
Alan ROSS: Born 1922. Haileybury and St John
's College, Ox Royal Navy
, the Arctic and North Sea
s. Intelligence Offlcer destroyer flotillas..Naval Staff, western Germany
, 19456. P British Council
and then journalism.. Editor, London Magax
Roger ROTHWELL: Lieutenant 1st Battalion Middlesex R
POW of'the Japanese in Hong Kong
from Christmas Day
August 1915. Poem written in prison camp hospital, where a
with malaria and dysentery January 1944..
Larry ROWDON: Born Canada. Served with Royal Regime
Canada, 2nd Division Canadian Army. Landed at Normandy
and wounded near Caen..
l Alf SAMSON: Served Middle East, artist and writer. Pos
3 86 INDEX OF POETS
Macdonogh, Redmond 254,255, 256 MacC, F E. 301,302 Macgill-Eain, Somhairle (Sorley MacLean
) 100,104 Makabo, Calvin 106 Mallalieu, H.B. 107 Manifold,John 213 Matthews, Geoffrey 164,165 McCallum, Neil 165 McGregor, J F 330 McHale, Kevin 214 McHarrie, Dennis x x i x McIntyre, Colin 215 McKee, Alexander 302,304 Meddemmen, J.G 108 Milligan, Spike 216 Monahan, James 166 Moore, John 274 Morgan, Eugene D. 331 Morris,N T 109,217 Morris, William E 110 Mould, Kenneth 275 Murray, W.A 332 Noble, A F 217 Norman, G C 111 Ottewell, John A 305 Page, Har old, V S 219 Parkhurst, K.W 37 Popham, Hugh 276 Powell, Enoch 115 Powell, Vernon 335 Prince, F T 113 Pudney, John 256,257,258 Rawlinson, M. 219 Reed, Henry 39,221 Richardson, Anthony 258,260 Rimington, John 116 Riviere, Michael 306 Roberts, R M 119,223 Roberts-Jones, Ivor 335 Robinson, N. 224
Rook, Alan 52, 307 Ropes, John 120 Rothwell, Roger 336,337 Ross, Alan 279 Rowdon, Larry 308 Samson, Alf 122 Savage, P.M.B 309 Scannell, Vernon 41,224,226 Scarfe, Francis 41 Schofield, J.H 280,281 Sharp, John Charles
338 Sibly, John 339 Smith, Charles 124 A Smith
, Herbert 281 Smith, John
340 Smith, Kenneth 167 Spencer, Bernard 125,227 Spender, Richard 41 Spooner, Leslie ,343 Stephanides, Theodore 126 Stewart, Gervase 43 Stewart-Peter, G. 346, 347 Street, Douglas 44, 45, 228, 287 Strick, John 228 Taylor, Sydney ,310 Thompson, Frank 127 Tiller, Terence 127,128 Tr apnell, N .J. 1.30 Tr eece, Henry 46 Walker, James 131 Walker, R.N. 132 Waller, John 47, 132 Warry, John 133,230 Watkins,A H 168 Wedge,John 282,283 Wells, Gerry 310 West, Victor 231 White, Alan 233,234,235 Wilkes, Lyall 236 Wilkinson, Darrell 133 Wilkner, C L. 347,348 Will, Alexander J.