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During the recent battlefields tour The World’s Worst Wound, the final tour in a series designed to commemorate the centenary of the First World War and the Armistice which ended it, John Lazarus read Isaac Rosenberg‘s poem Break of Day In the Trenches. Crosses were placed at the grave after the reading. As you will see, the weather would perhaps have been more suited to a reading of World War II poet Alun Lewis’s poem, All Day It Has Rained, but a good video recording of Rosenberg’s poem was made by tour participant Robin Allison-Smith. Robin has kindly suggested that it be made available here for users of this website to view or download, but for non-commercial use only, following the usual ‘Creative Commons’ rules. These can be found on the Internet.
The video of John Lazarus reading Rosenberg’s Break of Day In the Trenches can be found on Vimeo.com, here: https://vimeo.com/302143200[.]
The group later retired to their nearby coach for a reading by poet Michael Longley of Isaac Rosenberg’s poem, Dead Man’s Dump. This was also recorded on film by Robin Allison-Smith and it is hoped to make it available here too — also for non-commercial use only — once the necessary copyright permissions have been obtained.
A nationwide beach event organised by director Danny Boyle to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War will take place tomorrow, 11 November, Armistice Day. Danny Boyle has also commissioned a new poem by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, The Wound In Time, which will be read on the beaches:
THE WOUND IN TIME
It is the wound in Time. The century’s tides,
chanting their bitter psalms, cannot heal it.
Not the war to end all wars; death’s birthing place;
the earth nursing its ticking metal eggs, hatching
new carnage. But how could you know, brave
as belief as you boarded the boats, singing?
The end of God in the poisonous, shrapneled air.
Poetry gargling its own blood. We sense it was love
you gave your world for; the town squares silent,
awaiting their cenotaphs. What happened next?
War. And after that? War. And now? War. War.
History might as well be water, chastising this shore;
for we learn nothing from your endless sacrifice.
Your faces drowning in the pages of the sea.
Carol Ann Duffy, 2018
(All rights reserved.)
Members of the public are invited to assemble at any one of dozens of beaches around the UK on 11 November to hear the new poem, and perhaps other poetry. Visitors to each location will also see a large-scale portrait of a casualty from the war drawn into the sand at low tide and washed away as the tide comes in.
These events may be of particular interest to those who attended the WPA’s and Eyewitness Tours’ battlefields tour to the Western Front last month and will have heard the Association’s Chairman, David Worthington, reading Carol Ann Duffy’s new poem and explaining about Boyle’s forthcoming event on many beaches around Britain. To find where the nearest event will take place on a beach near you, or read more about what is happening, visit the The Pages of the Sea project website and map.
These events, named Pages of the Sea, are part of 14-18 NOW, Britain’s official Arts programme to mark the centenary of the First World War.
Work on the First World War nurse Mary Borden by the WPA’s founding President Professor Paul O’Prey, who edited a first published collection of Mary Borden’s poems, published recently by Dare-Gale Press (follow the link to see a previous post on this website about this), has been picked up by the Tower of London, which has commissioned a ‘Soundscape’ based on one of Borden’s poems. A recent article in the Guardian takes up the story at: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/oct/10/female-poet-first-world-war-honoured-armistice-centenary-mary-borden.
The draft itinerary below has been produced by Eyewitness Tours Ltd for the third in their series of battlefield tours organised for the WPA to commemorate the centenary of the First World War and the lives and writing of poets who fought on the Western Front 1914—1918.
A copy of the itinerary published as a PDF by Eyewitness Tours Ltd may be downloaded here for easy printing. Contact Andy Thompson by e-mail via the Eyewitness Tours website at http://eyewitnesstours.com/about to enquire about any details or remaining places available for the 2018 Tour.
Click on ‘Battlefield Tours’ on the top menu of this WPA website for further details of previous tours, which have all been related to war poets and their poetry.
The World’s Worst Wound
27—30 October 2018
Saturday 27th October 2018
Once across the Channel, we drive to directly to Arras to begin the tour at the observation post where Edward Thomas was killed on April 9th 1917. We continue our study of Thomas at his grave at Agny Military Cemetery, before checking into the Hotel de l’Univers, a 4* hotel that has been tastefully developed in a beautiful building that was once a hospital. The historic centre of Arras is a short walk away.
Dinner will be served in the hotel dining room.
Sunday 28th October 2018
After breakfast, we depart Arras and travel north along the former Western Front and head for the Ypres Salient. The British Army defended ‘Wipers’ (Ypres) for the duration of the war and suffered appalling casualties in the putrefying, cloying, mud. We examine the impact of the Battle of Passchendaele where Sassoon, Blunden, Graves, Gurney and David Jones all struggled through the mud, chaos and confusion and look at how their experiences shaped their views
during and after the war. Sassoon’s damning verdict of the battle “I died in hell, they called it Passchendaele” expressed the thoughts of many. The Americans fought at Ypres in 1918 and our time in the Salient will allow us to study how the War was viewed across the Atlantic.
We dine at a restaurant in the Grote Markt set against the backdrop of the great Cloth Hall in Ypres, before participating in the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. We then return to Arras.
Monday 29th October 2018
After breakfast, we depart for Ors where Wilfred Owen was killed on 4th November 1918 leading a desperate bid to cross the Sambre canal, where the German Army was making a last-ditch stand. We then enjoy a private visit to the Maison Forestière where, in a crowded cellar, Owen wrote his final letter to his mother. At his grave we will read some of his most powerful words before travelling to St Symphorien Military Cemetery. Here, at the graves of Private Parr (KIA 21st August 1914) & Private Ellison (KIA 11th November 1918), we will try to make some sense of the 1,564 days that give our tour its brutal title.
We return to the hotel for a pre-dinner aperitif before dining in Arras.
Tuesday 30th October 2018
We depart d’hôtel l’Univers after breakfast, and make the short journey to the grave of Isaac Rosenberg, killed on April 1st 1918 during the final German offensive of the war. We work our way north via the village of Neuville St Vaast, fought over in the bloody Battle of Arras in 1917. Here, buried almost side by side are French, British and German men who died fighting for a better future for Europe. Our final stop is at a new memorial, dedicated by the French in 2015 to the 585,000+ men who were killed in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais during the First World War. Listed alphabetically by family
name and without rank or nationality, the 500 three-metre high panels include the names of many writers, poets, philosophers, musicians and artists, who together make powerful comment as to the dreadful waste that was the First World War and how ‘The Lost Generation’ of Europe’s young men became a major factor in the turbulent inter-war years.
Our tours of 2014 and 2016 were underpinned with camaraderie, insight and a warmth of shared experiences and the War Poets Association PALS end the tour with a relaxing lunch in the sumptuous and tranquil setting of the Chateau Tilques before boarding our inbound shuttle en route for London.
This new book by Owen biographer Dr Guy Cuthbertson uses letters, diaries and newspapers to build an hour-by-hour account of 11 November 1918, the day that brought the First World War to an end with the signing of the Armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th month of 1918.
A number of previous accounts have examined the military and political events of that day, but this new book looks in hour-by-hour detail at ‘how the people of Britain experienced the moment that peace became a reality’.
Further details of the book are on the Yale University Press’s website, here.
Guy Cuthbertson is also author of Wilfred Owen (Yale, 2014). He edited Edward Thomas’s Autobiographies (Oxford, 2011), co-edited Thomas’s England and Wales (Oxford, 2011), and Branch-Lines: Edward Thomas and Contemporary Poetry (Enitharmon, 2007). He studied at St Andrews and Oxford universities, and is an Associate Professor at Liverpool Hope University.
On Thursday 1 November 2018 6.30 p.m. to 7.45 p.m. Guy Cuthbertson will give the this year’s Chatterton Lecture on Poetry, titled ‘I should want nothing more: Edward Thomas and Simplicity’. The lecture will be given at the British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AH. Admission is free but seats must be reserved in advance. For details and to book visit: https://www.britac.ac.uk/events/edward-thomas-and-simplicity.
Dr Jean Moorcroft Wilson’s new biography of Robert Graves in the years 1895 – 1929, a period which included Graves joining the Army as an officer at the age of 19 at the outbreak of the First World War, his near-death from wounds during the Battle of the Somme, his marriage to Nancy Nicholson and the births of their four children, study at Oxford, and the many tumultuous events that followed after he met the American poet Laura Riding in January 1926, was published on 2 August 2018.
Jean Moorcroft Wilson and Graves’s son William Graves (from Robert’s second marriage, to Beryl Pritchard), will be examining Robert Graves’s position as a major First World War poet as well as a master prose chronicler of the War, at this year’s Wimbledon BookFest. Their talk will be on Thursday 11th October 2018 at 4.30 – 5.30 pm and the hour will include the presentation of the second Robert Graves Poetry Prize.
Tickets and further information can be found here:
WPA members and friends can take advantage of this pre-publication SPECIAL DISCOUNT CODE OFFER from publishers, Carcanet, which runs until 11 November 2018:
Edmund Blunden, ed. by Robyn Marsack
RRP £16.99 | December 2018
To mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, a new ‘Selected Poems’ of Edmund Blunden
brings back into print the work of a major war poet and author of the classic memoir, Undertones of War.
To pre-order your copy for £14.00, go to carcanet.co.uk and enter the code BLUNDEN14 at the checkout.
Fall In, Ghosts
Edmund Blunden, ed. by Robyn Marsack
RRP £14.95 | August 2014
Deeply informed by his reading of eighteenth and nineteenth century literature, and equally by his knowledge of the countryside, Blunden’s vivid prose summons up for us what was human and natural in that most unnatural of environments, the battlefields of the Western Front.
To order your copy for £12.00, go to carcanet.co.uk and enter the code BLUNDEN12 at the checkout.
THESE DISCOUNT CODE OFFERS RUN UNTIL 11 NOV 2018.
Click here to download an illustrated flyer in PDF of these offers.
Latest (19/09/2018): A video recording of this new composition by Roxanna Panufnik which used lines from Isaac Rosenberg’s poem ‘In the Underworld’ and formed the opening performance of Last Night of the Proms 2018, can be found on the BBC’s website at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/4c898ad2-3743-46c4-b3ce-00e4ec1af05c.
The performance of this opening A BBC Radio 4 broadcast interviews the composers Roxanna Panufnik and Anna Meredith about their recent commissions to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War One and to produce a new work for the Last Night of the Proms 2018. The work, Songs of Darkness, Dreams of Light features a poem ‘In the Underworld’ by First World War poet Isaac Rosenberg and will be included in the BBC’s ‘Last Night of the Proms’ this year, as the opening item on 8th September 2018, commencing at 7.15 pm. A copy of the poem is reproduced below, although it is possible that a revised version may be used in the concert.
Listen to the Radio 4 interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzmptFT7P-k.
Isaac Rosenberg’s relative Bernard Wynick has described the inclusion of the poem in the ‘Last Night of the Proms’ as ‘fantastic’ and writes to the WPA as follows:
‘This is a great honour and a fitting tribute in the 100th.anniversary of [Isaac’s] death in action in France in the First World War.’
IN THE UNDERWORLD
I have lived in the underworld so long:
How can you, a creature of light,
Without terror understand the song
And unmoved hear what moves in night?
I am a spirit that yours has found,
Strange, undelightful, obscure,
Created by some other God, and bound
In terrible darkness, breathing breath impure.
Creature of light and happiness,
Deeper the darkness was when you,
With your bright terror eddying the distress,
Grazed the dark waves and shivering further flew.
A new biography of Robert Graves by Dr Jean Moorcroft-Wilson is due to be published by Bloomsbury in August 2018, covering the years from his birth in London, school at Charterhouse, holidays in Harlech, his service with the Royal Welch Fusiliers in the First World War, marriage to Nancy Nicholson, study at Oxford, the arrival of the American poet Laura Riding, his departure to Egypt in 1926 with both women and his and Nancy’s four children to be a Professor of English at Cairo University, and their return to England. It will also cover their and their circle’s tumultuous relationships in London, until Riding’s jump from a high window and Graves’s eventual departure to Mallorca with Riding, but without Nancy or his children, after writing his autobiography Good-bye To All That at the age of 33.
Robert Graves: From Great War Poet to Good-bye To All That 1895-1929 by Jean Moorcroft-Wilson will be published by Bloomsbury Continuum on 2 August 2018.
Dr Jean Moorcroft Wilson is well-known to many WPA members and those of other war poetry groups for her writing and lectures and has been described as the ‘doyenne of war poet biographers’. Her publications include biographies of Isaac Rosenberg (on whom she lectures worldwide), Siegfried Sassoon, Edward Thomas and Virginia Woolf. This new biography will cover the whole of the period in which Robert Graves wrote most of his work about war, from the publication of his first book of poetry Over the Brazier in the year of the Battle of the Somme, in which he was severely wounded and left on the battlefield presumed ‘died of wounds’, to that of his famous memoir of the war, Good-bye To All That.
Bloomsbury Continuum is offering an exclusive discount of 30% off the price of this book to members of the Robert Graves Society or others who attended the recent 14th International Robert Graves Conference at Mallorca, 10th – 14th July 2018. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain the discount code and then order online directly from Bloomsbury, at https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/robert-graves-9781472929143. Discounts for other markets can be requested from Bloomsbury if required. Please contact email@example.com if you would like one for your market. A general pre-order discount of 10% is also available to all.
Prices on Amazon and other bookshops will probably reduce once the publication date has passed. Blackwells are currently offering a pre-order price of £17.21 with free UK delivery. See: https://goo.gl/7T1ozg
Kindle and some other e-book formats are also available for pre-order. These formats will be released on 8 August 2018.