Saturday, 13 November 2010

Gurney at Remembrancetide

In today's Guardian is published one of Gurney's several previously unseen poems on the Armistice, The Bugle, the only source for which is an exercise book used by Gurney during January and February 1919, at which time Gurney, like many others, was returning to civilisation from active service. The poem betrays some of the thoughts of those returning, wondering how it is that life has continued apparently unchanged and uncaring in spite of what the soldiers have witnessed and been a part of.

There have been a couple of other interesting posts about Gurney in the last couple of weeks.

On All Hallows Eve Tim Kendall, my supervisor and co-editor in the edition of Gurney's complete poetry, posted on Gurney and All Hallows/All Saints – something Gurney keeps returning to in his poetry, from the early Toussaints of September 1918, quoted by Tim, to the late work of 1926. Gurney refers to the occasion numerous times during the late poetry; a day in the church's calendar which he commemorates specifically in an unpublished poem titled 'All Hallows', describing it as 'The day of honour and all love / The all-hallowed day of all friendly dead', on which occasion he celebrates Shakespeare amongst that saintly host, calling for the singing of 'Gloria and Eleison', 'Agincourt' and 'David’s songs' [viz. the psalms].

A calendar of days/commemorations pervades Gurney's late work. He writes many poems in honour of Saints Peter, Michael and others, of Good Friday (the day on which Gurney was shot in 1917), around the time of Lady Day (25 March), as well as on more secular anniversaries, such as the day of Johannes Brahms's death, and the anniversary of battles of the American civil war.

And latterly, blogger 'Classical Iconoclast', has posted that wonderful poem of November 1916, Bach and the Sentry.

1 comment:

Philip Lancaster said...

I had forgotten that I had already made a post about Remembrancetide which discusses 'The Bugle', last November. It is at: http://ivorgurney.blogspot.com/2009/11/armistice-day.html