O world of lips, O world of laughter,
Where hope is fleet and thought flies after,
Of lights in the clear night, of cries
That drift along the wave and rise
she keeps washing the dishes—they
have to be clean for the
dinners of tomorrow—
and watching explosions
in some distant country
Stars & stripes ripple from the pole.
An old willow leans over the water,
strand after strand of green tears.
Rachel Hadas: ‘Laugh right in its face’ – a poet reflects on her craft’s defiant role in the middle of a war
Poets write poetry to help them come to terms with the terror of their times. The process of writing those poems, and the process of reading them, both offer respite.
Today, there are approximately 20.17 million veterans – 7 percent of the U.S. population. That’s more than 20 million stories, along with the stories of their loved ones. Sometimes poetry is the most effective way to capture both the ambiguity and the story.
The cruelty in this poem is overwhelming – as Sassoon intended. So opposed was he to jingoistic propaganda, he deliberately slashed very tender imagery with the sharpest irony.
The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach. I have heard them all, and of the three elemental voices, that of ocean is the most awesome, beautiful and varied.
While Fussell wrote on a wide variety of subjects over his long life—ranging from Augustan humanism, Samuel Johnson, and Kingsley Amis to the 2nd Amendment, the Indianapolis 500, and travel in between-the-wars Europe—war, the irony of war, the suffering and lunacy and permanent damage of war, the unfairness of war, lay at the heart of his writing and of his being.