by Alun Lewis
NB: This review will make it obvious how very behind I am with posting my reviews on WordPress!
ANZAC Day & so I chose some poems for my husband & I to read together.
Our fathers served in WW2, so I thought it was high time we listened to a poet from that era & Lewis is the best known.
Lewis was an interesting person. A pacifist by nature he originally managed to score a relatively cushy number with the Royal Engineers. He then made an (according to Wikipedia)inexplicable decision to seek and gain a commission in an infantry battalion. I’m going to make the assumption that either Lewis felt his anti- fascist beliefs were more important or he felt guilty about being in safety when others were dying. Whatever the reason he died in Burma in 1944 – a suspected suicide.
His poems are lovely
Postscript: For Gweno is a wistful plea for his wife Gweno not to forget him if he gets sent overseas.
All Day It Has Rained is while he is doing his training with the Royal Engineers in Hampshire. Lewis was a Welshman, but he seems to have found the English countryside (& weather!) comforting & familiar. There is a mention of smoking a Woodbine – all so normal! But there is the bitter (& quite modern) mention of;
And thought of the quiet dead and the loud celebrities
Exhorting us to slaughter,
Is this the guilt he was feeling about those who have already fallen? There is no mistaking the anger at the celebrities (a very modern expression) urging others to fight while staying comfortably home themselves!
Goodbye This appears to be Lewis’s most famous poem. Every time I did a search online, this poem was the first one to show. A final night with his wife, a mixture of the mundane & the loving. So beautiful.
Although the NAB policies have changed on Goodreads have changed, I feel most comfortable assigning my online reads to a book. But I do hope to come back to Lewis’s poetry another time.