Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Poetry Corner

I first came across this piece in an anthology of war poetry I liked to use during my days as a high school teacher (ever such a long time ago). I don't have that volume with me now, but I've just managed to retrieve this poem from the Internet. It's quite unusual to find a poem on war written from the perspective of a family member rather than a direct participant. This one is by Clifford Dyment, a relatively little-known British poet (one about whom I'd like to know more) who was born at the outset of the First World War and wrote this poem in memory of his father while still a very young man (first published in 1935, when he'd barely turned 21 - precocious bugger!).

I love that phrase "My luck is at the bottom of the sea". I find it a useful brake, sometimes, on my own self-pity; whenever I may be tempted to say it of myself, I am reminded that things could really be oh so very much worse.

Moonrat, by the way, has been running a 'favourite poems' thread this week. I've just added this there as well.

The Son

I found the letter in a cardboard box,
Unfamous history. I read the words.
The ink was frail and brown, the paper dry
After so many years of being kept.
The letter was a soldier's, from the front -
Conveyed his love and disappointed hope
Of getting leave. "It's cancelled now," he wrote.
"My luck is at the bottom of the sea."

Outside the sun was hot; the world looked bright;
I heard a radio, and someone laughed.
I did not sing, or laugh, or love the sun.
Within the quiet room I thought of him,
My father killed, and all the other men
Whose luck was at the bottom of the sea.

Clifford Dyment (1914-1971)

1 comment:

moonrat said...

it's a great poem. he really hits a nail.