A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
A happy vicar I might have been…
On the Spanish battlefield, he would crawl
on his stomach searching for potatoes.
The POUM (Marxist Workers’ Party) made him
an officer & that first night he gained his men’s
respect by drinking them under the table.
Later what his men remembered:
a straightforward, unaffected man, despite
the Eton accent, who feared rats, not bullets.
What gave respite in that happy year after Spain,
that year in Wallington: his wife Eileen, his son
& gardening. Digging, planting, tending hens & goats.
He’d milk Muriel the cow & take the poodle Marx
for walks. After the Hitler-Stalin pact, he tried
to enlist, but the British army wouldn’t take him.
His neck, shot through by sniper fire, had healed,
but he’d been six months in a TB sanitarium.
No recording survives of his flat & damaged voice.
Writing Homage to Catalonia, he worried
he’d be misunderstood. Even his mother was
puzzled by his books. This is not the Eric we knew.
Copyright 2017 Joan E. Bauer
Joan E. Bauer (photo:Ruth Ella Hendricks)