Friday, June 17, 2011

Here's a poem by Edward Thomas, and here, too, is his lovely photograph. Thomas's work is often anthologized in collections of World War I poetry, but his poems are far less specific about battle experiences than, say, Rupert Brooke's or Siegfried Sassoon's tend to be.

Thomas was killed in action in 1917.

Gone, Gone Again

Edward Thomas

Gone, gone again,
May, June, July,
And August gone,
Again gone by,

Not memorable
Save that I saw them go,
As past the empty quays
The rivers flow.

And now again,
In the harvest rain,
The Blenheim oranges
Fall grubby from the trees

As when I was young--
And when the lost one was here--
And when the war began
To turn young men to dung.

Look at the old house,
Outmoded, dignified,
Dark and untenanted,
With grass growing instead

Of the footsteps of life,
The friendliness, the strife;
In its beds have lain
Youth, love, age, and pain:

I am something like that;
Only I am not dead,
Still breathing and interested
In the house that is not dark:--

I am something like that:
Not one pane to reflect the sun,
For the schoolboys to throw at--
They have broken every one.

Tom has a photo opening tonight at Common Street Gallery in Waterville. I can't go because I'm going to visiting hours for Amy, Monica, and Coty, which means this may be the first of Tom's openings I've ever missed. But when Linda called yesterday morning, and I told her how disturbed I was about his not being able to come tonight, she told me that she knew how much he cared about her and that we shouldn't worry. This is exactly like Linda: always trying to soothe other people's anxieties.

We talked for a long time, and I told her about another one of my anxieties. Where were the children's pets? What had happened to them? The newspaper article said that the only thing left alive in the house was the puppy that Amy had recently brought home. Linda told me that the person who had given Amy the puppy had taken him back. For the moment, a neighbor is feeding the cats outside because no one is allowed into the house while it's still a crime scene. Afterwards, the family will have to decide what to do with the cats. I said I would take in at least one of them, if need be. My Paul is starry-eyed at the thought. We'll see what transpires.


Julia Munroe Martin said...

That's a beautiful poem (and it is a lovely photograph as well). After following all this through you, through the media (I live in Maine), it's really pretty It's hard to know what to say except hang in there and I hope there's some time to take care of yourself in addition to everyone and everything else. Hugs to you and Linda.

Anonymous said...

When I was at Columbia, Derek Walcott taught a class on the English pentameter tradition. He had us read--and memorize--Thomas, who became a favorite. There are certain poems of his I consider perfect. The poem you shared seems perfect, to what happened in Thomas's time and to what is happening here now.

Carol Willette Bachofner said...

Dawn, this is a very good poem. I read quite a bit of war poetry, with a few favorites (Death of the Ball Turret Gunner and Dulce et Decorum Est being two). I had not read this poem before and am happy to have it to read now. Have you seen the collection done by Robert Hedin, Old Glory? It traces US war poetry from the Revolutionary period to the current wars. It is amazing.

You could borrow it from me sometime...