Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday Within the Octave of Five Months After St. David's Day

Back at Easter I got to spend a wee bit of time at my sister's house which meant, of course, that I got to spend an even weer bit of  time browsing through her (very fine) bookshelf. I chiefly remember that I was very tired at the time, and that I ran across a book of poetry from World War I that was full of things I had never read. I sleepwalked through a couple of things by John Masefield that I quite liked, but was thoroughly enchanted by a piece by Ivor Gurney called "First Time In." One doesn't usually expect memories of the front lines to delight, but this poem was downright beautiful, and in my groggy state, rather unusually vivid. It didn't neglect the horror inches away "under the gun's noise," but I found something mightily heartening in the notion of men singing, even there.

It's been a busy year (and I am easily distracted, yes); it finally occurred to me last week that I wanted a copy of the poem I could link to here, so I started digging around. The First World War Poetry Digital Archive is quite impressive; you can look over poets' shoulders and read multiple drafts of all sorts of things, complete with scribblings-out and ink spots.

But then Google led me to this post, which was meant for St. David's Day, and has no less than three poems about Welsh soldiers singing (and a bonus bit about a goat, not to mention a bonus bit about "Sospan Fach"). So, if you like, you can scroll down until you find Gurney's poem that starts "After the dread tales. . ." or, you can (and you really should) read the whole thing.

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