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Collected Poems

by Ivor Gurney

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This year we had quite a strange ANZAC Day for us, as we didn’t go to either of the parades – & in fact, don’t even know if the parades even happened due to COVID. I still wanted to do my annual war poetry reading, but I ran into a slight snag. I wanted to read a New Zealand war poet, & my Google skills must be lacking as I couldn’t find a Kiwi poet from WW1 or WW2. If anyone knows of one (preferably where their poetry is online) please give me the names in the comments for this review.

But Googling did lead me to the very sad case of Ivor Gurney – a British poet from WW1 who had a nervous breakdown before he went to war! He was gassed 1917 & had a second breakdown in 1918. His family had him declared insane in 1922 & he spent the rest of his life in an institution. Gurney died in 1937.

Such a sad life & some of his work has never been published.

So I read a selection from this website. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/ivor-gurney

Ballad of the Three Spectres Certainly shows a grim set of mind. 3.5★

To the Poet Before Battle Beautiful and sad. 5★

Strange Service Again, beautiful where Gurney realises what he has done enlisting – & what he is sacrificing. 5★

When you know the back story, you can’t help but be moved.

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