Posts tagged ‘1940’

Saturday, 31 July 2021

The Magic Flute by Maude Irene Haire Wilde

The last scant petal falls
From the slender flower of sound.
The echoes strew the halls
Like fragrance, curled to slight
Echoes of echoes dwindling,
Thinned to silence…still
On fertile air the spindling
Flower unfolds delight…


Date: 1940

By: Maude Irene Haire Wilde (1884-1964)

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Young Lady Dancing with Soldier by Phyllis Byam Shand Allfrey

Young lady dancing with soldier,
Feeling stern peaty cloth with your slight hand,
So very happy,
So happy
To be dancing with the patriotic male—
You have forgotten
(Or perhaps you were never concerned to know)
Last month your partner was a shipping clerk.

How, as he sat by his few inches of window,
This boy dreamed of ships and far engagements,
Battles with purpose
and future,
Fair women without guile, and England’s honour,
Comme chevalier
sans peur . . .

But instead he got conscripted into the Army,
And now you are the last symbol of his dream.

It is rather thrilling to be a last symbol,
Before mud clogs the ears, blood frets the mouth
Of the poor clerk
turned solider,
Whose highest fortune will be to find himself
Conscripted back
to life . . .
Done up like a battered brown paper parcel—
No gentleman, malgré tout; clerk unemployed.

From: Reilly, Catherine W. (ed.), Chaos of the Night: Women’s Poetry and Verse of the Second World War, 1984, Virago: London, p. 5.

Date: 1940

By: Phyllis Shand Byam Allfrey (1908-1986)

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Immensity by Mabel Esther Allan

You go at night into immensity,
Leaving this green earth, where hawthorn flings
Pale stars on hedgerows, and our serenity
Is twisted into strange shapes; my heart never sings
Now on spring mornings, for you fly at nightfall
From this earth I know
Toward the clear stars, and over all
Those dark seas and waiting towns you go;
And when you come to me
There are fearful dreams in your eyes,
And remoteness. Oh, God! I see
How far away you are,
Who may so soon meet death beneath an alien star.

Late 1940

From: Reilly, Catherine W. (ed.), Chaos of the Night: Women’s Poetry and Verse of the Second World War, 1984, Virago: London, p. 3.

Date: 1940

By: Mabel Esther Allan (1915-1998)

Friday, 25 May 2018

Jean by Paul Hugh Howard Potts

There is a wild flower growing
Inside a broken vase,
On a mantle in my memory.

This flower will die
When you are dead,
And while you live will grow.

Because each petal and its stem
Is like long years, of waiting and of hope,
So useless and so void.

From: Rexroth, Kenneth (ed.), The New British Poets: An Anthology, 1940, New Directions: New York, p. 301.

Date: 1940

By: Paul Hugh Howard Potts (1911-1990)

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Widow by Martha Keller Rowland

Never give their clothes away
If you want the dead to haunt you
Dusk or dark or dawn or day,
Bar no ghost from glass, they say,
If you want the dead to want you.

Leave them there by the birchwood bed,
Coat and breeches and shirt and shoes.
Fit the living or fit the dead,
Hang them up on the hooks, I said—
The hooks he used to use.

Set the table with fork and knife.
Plump the pillow and coverlid.
Where would a man who loved his wife
Lie except where he lay in life—
Same as he always did?

Leave the mirror upon the nail.
Yes, I know that the first one who
Looks in it will perceive the pale
Dead therein—and his heart will fail.
Do what I tell you to.

Set the mirror the way it was.
Let the crepe that has hid it fall.
What thing better could come to pass
Than to find my dead in the looking-glass
Hanging upon the wall?

From: Harper’s Magazine, Volume 181, 1940, Harper & Brothers, Publishers: New York and London, p. 171.

Date: 1940

By: Martha Keller Rowland (1902-1971)

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Barbed Wire by Eithne Wilkins

The silence, with its ragged edge of lost communication,
silence at the latter end,
is now a spiked north wind.

Last words
toss about me in the streets, waste paper
or a cigarette butt in some gutter stream
that overflows
from crumpled darkness.
“Look, I am plunged in the midst of them, a dagger
in their midst.”

and over the edge
the nightmares peer, with their tall stories
and the day’s unheard-of cry.


Date: 1940

By: Eithne Wilkins (?-?)

Monday, 6 August 2012

Intimations of Immortality in Early Middle Age by Jan Struther (Joyce Maxtone Graham)

On the first of spring, walking along the Embankment,
Light-footed, light-headed, eager in mind and heart,
I found my spirit keyed to a new pitch,
I felt a strange serenity and a strange excitement.

I saw a boy running, and felt the wind
Stream past his cheeks, his heart in ribs pounding;
I saw a nurse knitting, and my own fingers
Knew the coldness of the needles, warmth of the wool.

I saw, over the barges, gulls flying:
It was my own wings that tilted and soared,
With bone-deep skill gauging to a line’s breadth
The unmapped hills of air, its unplumbed hollows.

I saw four men striking in magnificent canon
With long-hafted hammers on an iron spike:
And I, swinging with them, made no fifth
But was one with each, wielding a fourfold weapon.

I saw a woman with child: a second heart
Beat below mine. I saw two lovers kissing,
And felt her body dissolve, his harden
Under the irrational chemistry of desire.

And I, who had always said, in idle, friendly,
Fireside thrashings-out of enormous themes,
That anybody who liked could have my share
Of impersonal after-life, fusion with the infinite,
Suddenly thought–Here, perhaps, is a glimpse
Of the sages’ vision, delight by me unimagined:
To feel without doing, to enjoy without possessing;
To bear no longer the burden of a separate self;
To live through others’ senses; to be air, to be ether,
Soundlessly quivering with the music of a million lives.


Date: 1940

By: Jan Struther (Joyce Maxtone Graham) (1901-1953)