Review: Ten War Poems edited by Andrew Motion
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.
many hours kneeling together in the garden
so many hours
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
part of the battle of Crecy,
the trampling and the tumbling.
During the fourteenth charge
of the French cavalry
with a brown-eyed male fly
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?