Review: Ten War Poems edited by Andrew Motion

2016-05-26 13.53.05

I saw this on a friends Twitter feed and immediately contacted Candlestick Press to see if they had a spare copy, and they very kindly sent me one.

It is a small poetry pamphlet which is designed to be something you could send as a card to someone. It comes with an envelope for posting and a stylish bookmark too. What a lovely and very original idea.

The Ten poems have been chosen by Andrew Motion, one of which, The Gardener has been written by him.

Initially I thought it was all poems about World War 1, but its about war in general from any time period or battle. It was good to expand my reading in this way as i tend to stick to WW1 or WW2 in poetry.

I’m not a fan of all the poems, that will happen as poetry is such a personal choice. But three of them really stood out for me.


The Send-Off by Wilfred Owen is such a haunting poem about men going off to war, there is a lot of bitterness I feel in his words about how soldiers were treated.

“Shall they return to beatings of great bells

In wild train-loads?

A few, a few, too few for drums and yells,

May creep back, silent, to still village wells

Up half-known roads.”


The Gardener by Andrew Motion is a very moving poem and cleverly written and set out on the page. Its from a much more recent conflict in Kabul and makes for very sombre reading.

“We spent

many hours kneeling together in the garden

so many hours

Mark

he liked to lend a hand

watching Gardener’s World

building compost heaps

or the brick path with the cherry tree

that grows over it now       the white cherry

where i thought        I mustn’t cry

I must behave

as if he’s coming back”


But my favourite of all of them simply because it is from such an unusual point of view is The Fly by Miroslav Holub

“She sat on a willow-trunk

watching

part of the battle of Crecy,

the shouts,

the gasps,

the groans,

the trampling and the tumbling.

During the fourteenth charge

of the French cavalry

she mated

with a brown-eyed male fly

from Vadincourt.”


Its a lovely little booklet and great for introducing poetry to people who may be put off by a larger collection.

Thanks again to Candlestick Press for sending me this to review.

Let me know a favourite poem of yours?