Posts tagged ‘1947’

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Imagine the South by George Woodcock

Imagine the South from which these migrants fled,
Dark-eyed, pursued by arrows, crowned with blood,
Imagine the stiff stone houses and the ships
Blessed with wine and salt, the quivering tips
Of spears and edges signalling in the sun
From swords unscabbarded and sunk in brine,
Imagine the cyclamen faces and yielding breasts
Hungered after in a dead desert of icy mists,
Imagine, for though oblivious, you too are cast
Exile upon a strange and angry coast.

Going into exile away from youth,
You too are losing a country in the south,
Losing, in the red daylight of a new shore
Where you are hemmed by solitude and fear,
The loving faces far over a sea of time,
The solid comfort and the humane dream
Of a peaceful sky, the consoling patronage
And the golden ladder to an easy age,
All these are lost, for you too have gone away
From your Southern home upon a bitter journey.

There is no home for you marked on the compass.
I see no Penelope at the end of your Odysseys,
And all the magic islands will let you down.
Do not touch the peaches and do not drink the wine,
For the Dead Sea spell will follow all you do,
And do not talk of tomorrow, for to you
There will only be yesterday, only the fading land,
The boats on the shore and tamarisks in the sand
Where the beautiful faces wait, and the faithful friends.
They will people your mind. You will never touch their hands.


Date: 1947

By: George Woodcock (1912-1995)

Sunday, 9 July 2017

We, As Old As Two Wars by Henry Treece

We, as old as two wars, here have stood
Beneath the white and sheltering apple-tree,
Listening to the night’s dark violins;
Have paused from time to time
Among the fantasy of wild orchises
To watch the painted birds daub the bright sky
With fugue of feathers in a breathless sweep.

We, old as history now, have even dared
To mimic God, fly as the angels fly,
Forgetting we were moment’s minions,
That bone would break to lime
And brightness yearly fade from eager eyes.
Perhaps we forgot too soon mortality,
Man’s fragile virtue and the way to weep.


Date: 1947

By: Henry Treece (1911-1966)

Friday, 5 May 2017

The Tomb of Honey Snaps Its Marble Chains by Derek Stanford

“J’écris seulement pour vous exalter.” Guillaume Apollinaire

Year after year before my life began
I lived with lug-worms in a sunken marsh.
Feet of the town stamped over me by day:
clocks of the town above me chimed at night.

Fossil among the gutters of the world,
I grew like cactus in a pavement’s crack;
cigarette-ash and excrement my food,
urine of dogs and rain moistened my mouth.

My head was bent,
my lips were glued to earth;
boots strode upon the gang-plank of my neck;
beetles filed through the postern of my teeth
and scurried down the lift-shaft of my throat.

Darkness, the taste of sourness, choking dust,
the insane speech of dynasties of mice;
Time in his own asylum faintly raving,
contriving wreaths of slime-dank silver daisies,
kissing his luminous finger-tips to Death.

The arrogance of haughty high-heeled shoes,
the chain-gang trudge of a multitude of slaves
forged an iron echo in my shackled skull.
The moon’s infected spittle lay in my hair.

How can I write of the buried will’s revolt,
that vast protracted midnight of rebellion
when the heart cracks like the sepulchre of a god,
and Time and Fate–earth’s hypocritical mourners–
freeze into standing shadows,
and resurrection
grapples and shatters its pre-determined shell?

So I was born in an avalanche of carnage,
torn from the jailor-image of my heart,
severed in pain from die double of all my durance:
reeking with crimsoned sweat I stood complete.

How can I speak of the trumpets and the garlands,
giant hands that tended me sheathed in gloves of flowers;
choirs, beyond stars, proclaiming through the ether
“Only the Free shall discover the Morning River;
only the Free who are pure shall uncover My Face,”

I drank the Milky Way’s sweet foaming cordial
fresh from the spouting nipples of the sky.
Now I walk upright, crowned with the bee’s gold halo;
sure-footed as a panther, shod with fern.

For those who slake their thirst at the constellations,
who wear their love like a sprig of mistle-toe,
the Spring shall be a never-failing garden,
and bread shall be “a star upon the tongue.”

From: Rexroth, Kenneth, The New British Poets: An Anthology, 1947, New Directions: New York, pp. 234-236.

Date: 1947

By: Derek Stanford (1918-2008)

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Absent Creation by Derek Stanley Savage

I wait for wonder, or the weather’s turn
To teach my tongue to wind its tangled skein
Of loss or love, lilt out its awkward words,
Or learn a rhythm from the weaving rain.

I await that ease and excellence of mind
That intimates suave movement to the hand,
Letting the typewriter shuttle off its lines
To a slow march, or stately saraband.

But time and tide-turn, running past the ear,
Seethe with distraction on a wasting sound,
The hour-sands plunge, my fingers plough through care,
I hear an endless clock thud underground.

Upon this desert coast, this sea examinate,
Lord, burst a cyclone, or a soothing rain,
Detonate dams, flood cities, souse or intoxicate,
That I may live, and feel, and speak again!

From: Rexroth, Kenneth (ed.), The New British Poets: An Anthology, 1947, New Directions: London, p. 212.

Date: 1947

By: Derek Stanley Savage (1917-2007)

Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Common Weather by Nicholas Moore

And here indeed is the irrelevance
Of all distinctions, here this warm, damp morning.
And men and women, hurrying in the streets
Are all brought to a common level,
I and my friends distinct and different creatures,
All that we have a common knowledge of evil.

Yet times are not so indolent as we think.
There is more to a traffic than a mere
Weapon of disease, of unchanged, of desire.
Men and women are good as well as evil,
And that queer bronze flame of hair
That I, Oh! remember, changes the whole level.

There is level upon which all men disport:
And that hair, and all those other womanly
Distinctions melt into desires which hurt,
The pain, the beauty equally acute,
Of the unachieved, the unachievable,
That longing to possess which is a hell.

And here brought by a common weather to
Considerations of the commonplace,
I sit like a clown and hide my smiling face,
Conscious of the despair, the truth, the evil,
The actions which destroy that queer bronze flame.
Bringing distinction down and glories level.


Date: 1947

By: Nicholas Moore (1918-1986)

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Nocturnal by Os Marron

The roof of midnight, hushed and high;
covers the house in silence deep; then I
hear laughter from my daughter in her sleep.

So gay a laugh yet
like a folk song hung from the secret
melancholy thread holding all happiness.
I know that summer has facades disturbed
like curtains on a stage by small winds of sadness
blossom in joy lets fall a white tear
the curving moon can be a scimitar
roses are barbed.

So must her dreams be.
Her girlish light must scale the cliff of sleep
by paths unimagineably pure.

O sea
forgo this dreamer, for her dear gold
I covet; her daylight laughter caught so lovingly
in sleep slips like light into dark water
to a desperate fathom.

So must her dreams be …

From: Rexroth, Kenneth (ed.), The New British Poets: An Anthology, 1947, New Directions: London, p. 146.

Date: 1947

By: Os Marron (19??-1947)

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The Constant North by James Findlay Hendry

(For Dee)

Encompass me, my lover,
With your eyes’ wide calm.
Though noonday shadows are assembling doom,
The sun remains when I remember them;
And death, if it should come,
Must fall like quiet snow from such clear skies.

Minutes we snatched from the unkind winds
Are grown into daffodils by the sea’s
Edge, mocking its green miseries;
Yet I seek you hourly still, over
A new Atlantis loneliness, blind
As a restless needle held by the constant north we always have in mind.

From: Rexroth, Kenneth (ed.) The New British Poets: An Anthology, 1947, New Directions: London, p. 92.

Date: 1947

By: James Findlay Hendry (1912-1986)

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Poetry is Happiness by Charles Wrey Gardiner

Poetry is happiness; and happiness is the shadow of poetry
Like the shape of Orion in the midnight sky
Spread across the darkening and dreadful future,
A cold icicle pure as our merciless nature.

I am the idiot lost on a winter’s morning
Bedevilled by despair of the ancient works of man,
Ink on my fingers and murder in my heart,
Lonely as angels or the ghost of time.

Love is my happiness and love my learning,
Words are my undiluted wisdom, not hard my meaning,
Clear as the unseen blackbird singing alone.
Poetry is life and life lies lazy in the sun.

From: Rexroth, Kenneth (ed.), The New British Poets, 1947, New Directions: London, p. 73.

Date: 1947

By: Charles Wrey Gardiner (1901-1981)

Thursday, 6 March 2014

If This is a Man by Primo Michele Levi

You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud,
Who does not know peace,
Who fights for a scrap of bread,
Who dies because of a yes or a no.
Consider if this is a woman
Without hair and without name,
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter.
Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.


Date: 1947 (Italian); 1959 (English)

By: Primo Michele Levi (1919-1987)

Translated by: Stuart Woolf (1936- )

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Poem by Barbara Alison Boodson Neville

I do not want to be your weeping woman
holding you to me with a chain of grief.

I could more easily bear the flames of your anger
than the frost of your kisses empty of desire:

I do not want to be your gentle lover
dragging you to me on a rope of pity.

Sooner that you never touched me than that you ever
should touch me from a distance made of mercy:

I do not want to be your silent mother
always forgiving and smiling and never loving.

If you forget me, forget me utterly. Never
come to my arms without interest: I shall know it:

I do not want to be your weeping woman
pinning you to me with a sword of tears.

From: Rexroth, Kenneth (ed.) The New British Poets. An Anthology, 1947, New Directions: London, pp. 19-20.

Date: 1947

By: Barbara Alison Boodson Neville (1925-1993)