Guest poem submitted by Anustup Datta:
(Poem #502) MCMXIV
Those long uneven lines Standing as patiently As if they were stretched outside The Oval or Villa Park, The crowns of hats, the sun On moustached archaic faces Grinning as if it were all An August Bank Holiday lark; And the shut shops, the bleached Established names on the sunblinds, The farthings and sovereigns, And dark-clothed children at play Called after kings and queens, The tin advertisements For cocoa and twist, and the pubs Wide open all day; And the countryside not caring The place-names all hazed over With flowering grasses, and fields Shadowing Domesday lines Under wheats' restless silence; The differently-dressed servants With tiny rooms in huge houses, The dust behind limousines; Never such innocence, Never before or since, As changed itself to past Without a word--the men Leaving the gardens tidy, The thousands of marriages Lasting a little while longer: Never such innocence again.
Philip Larkin is not usually counted among the so-called War Poets, and his poem is naturally more detached, though none the less harsh and caustic for that. I think comparing the lines of entraining soldiers (and presaging the lines of trenches stretched across the countryside) with the ticket queues at the Kensington or at an Aston Villa match on August Bank Holiday is absolutely devastating in its irony. Also note the biting satire of "The thousands of marriages/Lasting a little while longer" - never such innocence again, indeed - the Great War destroyed all that was sweet and innocent in civilization. Anustup.