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World War 2 poetry

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by MichaelBully, Nov 9, 2016.

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  1. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    Have updated World War 2 poetry blog with a post about Royal Navy serving poet Alan Ross ( 1922- 2001 ) . Have a lot more that could post about Ross's work , but envisage the next two posts also being about British poets. Have so far avoided covering Keith Douglas, most known for his Desert War poetry , but killed in action in 1944 during the Normandy campaign, on the basis that he is one of the few World War 2 poets that seem to be covered here in Britain.
    In 2020 would like to cover Czech poetry about World War 2.

    WorldWar2poetry
     
  2. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    World War 2 poetry blog has been quiet as have been working on my new 13th century history blog.

    Interested to see that the BBC Radio 3 'Words and Music' music is devoted to a commemoration the liberation of Auschwitz on Sunday 26th January 2020 17.30 Greenwich Meant Time and this will include poetry.

    The BBC normally keep programmes available to listen to online for at least 4 weeks after broadcast. No indication which poems and poets that the programme will include.

    " In this special edition of Words and Music marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, readers Henry Goodman and Maria Friedman read poetry and prose about life and death at the most notorious Nazi concentration camp....."

    BBC Radio 3 - Words and Music, Commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz
     
  3. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    Who needs the BBC, if there is "The Auschwitz Poems" edited by A. Zych. 500+ pages. Hundreds of poems, all in English. $3 used.
     
  4. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    Thank you wm. Have never heard of this anthology but found a copy advertised on 'Amazon UK' . No reviews of the book . Must order this.The product description states ;

    " An anthology of poems about Auschwitz in English. In new design! The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum has published The Auschwitz Poems: An Anthology in English. This is a large volume of 400 poems by 250 poets from around the world. Some were Auschwitz prisoners like Primo Levi, Halina Birenbaum, Charlotte Delbo, Friedrich Löwy and Tadeusz Borowski, and others are modern poets including the Nobel-Prize winners Roald Hoffmann, Elie Wiesel, Salvatore Quasimodo, Wislawa Szymborska, and Czeslaw Milosz "

    I have drawn on Hilda Schiff's anthology ' Holocaust Poetry' from 1995 in some of my own writing.
     
  5. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    Have updated World War 2 Poetry blog with a short post about Holocaust poetry. Looked specifically at the poem 'Pigtail' about human hair being on display at the Museum at Auschwitz written by Polish poet Tadeuzs Rozewicz (1921- 2014)

    WorldWar2poetry: Holocaust Memorial Day 2020

    There is a short performed version of the poem with a short film on 'Youtube'

     
  6. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    For next blog post I am hoping to interview a founder member of the 'Life and Death Orchestra' who released a CD titled ,Songs For The Betrayed World' made in 1998 which used the poetry of Tadeusz Borowski, Tadeusz Rozewicz, Elie Wiesel, Czeslaw Milosz, amongst others. . Their website is at
    Holocaust Music from the Life And Death Orchestra

    With some sample tracks from the CD.

    Life And Death Orchestra mp3 download page

    Also found a work from 1969 titled 'A War Quartet ' by poet, novelist, and BBC radio producer George Macbeth .(1932- 1992) .
    The poems featured are titled.

    'The Desert War'
    'Autumn Victory' (About the Battle of Britain)
    'Under The Sea'
    'At Stalingrad'

    Macbeth described himself as 'A Child of the War' ( the title of his autobiography from 1987) . Can't immediately think of a work like it where a poet has picked four different theatres of war and tries to write about it from the view of the combatants .
     
  7. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    Slight change of plan . Decided that needed more time to write about the 'Life and Death Orchestra' and George Macbeth.
    Have now written a post titled 'Capel-le-Ferne , which are the lyrics of a song by Sussex singer songwriter Greg Harper . Greg wrote the song after a visit to said monument to the pilots that fought in the Battle of Britain.

    WorldWar2poetry: Capel-le-Ferne by Greg Harper

    Here is a Youtube link to the original song itself

     
  8. James Stewart

    James Stewart Active Member

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    A well-known Old Airfield.PNG poem by an air gunner to be found at East Kirkby airfield gate house.
     
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  9. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    Thank you James, Haven't heard about this poem but will add to my collection. Curious to know more about W Scott.If you have any further information, please let me know.
     
  10. James Stewart

    James Stewart Active Member

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    This poem was published in "To Shatter the Sky" ( A Bomber Airfield at War, published by Patrick Stephens Limited.1984. I dated the book on 04/10/84, so this in a way it dates me as well. The author, on ops at the time was reflecting on the month previous, a series of raids on Hamburg.

    IMG_9399.JPG IMG_9400.JPG
     
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  11. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    Thank you James, are there a number of poems in this book? Will have to track it down at The British Library when lockdown comes to an end.

    The note of regret that appears in the poem reminds me of the poem 'My Hands' by Mary E Harrison, who served with the WAAF and was an artist. She made a model of Cologne to assist with the co-ordination of the 30th May 1942 bombing raid. Realising later what she had done she wrote a poem titled 'My Hands' . Here is the first verse

    My Hands

    " Do you know what it is like to have death in your hands?
    When you haven't a murderer's mind?
    Do you know how it feels when you could be the cause
    Of a child being blind?.
    How many people have died through me
    From the skill in my finger tips?
    For I fashion the clay and portray the landscape
    As the fliers are briefed for their trips."

    My Hands [Mary E. Harrison]
     
  12. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    Have updated blog to look at George Macbeth's 1969 attempt to write poetry about World War 2 'A War Quartet 'https://worldwar2poetry.blogspot.com/2020/04/the-poetry-of-george-macbeth-and-war.html
    George Macbeth (1932- 1992) was a broadcaster for the BBC, specialising in radio radio programmes, and an accomplished poet and novelist in his own right. Macbeth's youth was overshadowed by Word War 2: He was hiding under the stairs of the family home in Sheffield with his parents when the house was wrecked by the impact of a land mine. Later in the War, his father -who was an Air Raid Warden- vanished one night whilst on duty during a raid, and was never seen again.
    Macbeth decided to write 'A War Quartet' , poems looking at four major turning points within the War, from the point of view of a combatant.
     
  13. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    Finally have written up thoughts about The Life and Death Orchestra who have taken a lot of poetry and prose extracts about The Holocaust and set them to music. They have released a CD and performed an opera, and done some great work in bringing Holocaust related writing to a wider audience. https://worldwar2poetry.blogspot.com/

    Have included a short interview with one of their main composers. The poets they have featured include Yehuda Amichai, Tadeusz Borowski, Czeslaw Milosz, Zbigniew Herbert, Hilda Schiff, Elie Wiesel, and Adam Zych. They live in the same city as myself- Brighton- and it's amazing to find someone else in the area has read some Czeslaw Milosz, and Zbgigniew Herbert . They have got me looking at Tadeusz Borowski 's work which I am grateful for.

    Here is some lines by Borowski from 'Sun of Auschwitz' , a love poem to his partner Maria Rundo who was arrested at the same time as he was.

    The Sun of Auschwitz (extract) Tadeusz Borowski

    " I remember
    your smile as elusive
    as a shade of the colour of the wind,
    a leaf trembling on the edge
    of sun and shadow, fleeting
    yes always there. So you are
    for me today,in the seagreen
    sky, the greenery and
    the leaf-rustling wind. I feel
    you in every shadow, every movement
    and you put the world around me
    like your arms. I feel the world
    as your body, you look into my eyes
    and call me with the whole world"

    (Translation that appears in 'The Auschwitz Poems' 1999 anthology edited by Adam Zych.

    Listening to the Life and Death Orchestra has reminded me that I have not really paid much attention to Paul Celan's poetry. Something that I must remedy when I can get back to the National Poetry Library.
     
  14. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    Have updated blog to look at the war poetry of Gavin Ewart (1916- 1995) , who served in the North African and Italian Campaigns .

    WorldWar2poetry


    Here is a poem that Ewart wrote in April 1945 . Not typical of his war poetry generally, which is usually more lighthearted .

    War Dead

    With grey arm twisted over a green face
    The dust of passing trucks swirls over him,
    Lying by the roadside in his proper place,
    For he crossed the ultimate far rim
    That hides from us the valley of the dead.
    He lies like used equipment thrown aside,
    Of which our swift advance can take no heed.
    Roses, triumphal cars- but this one died.

    Once war memorials, pitiful attempt
    In some vague way regretfully to atone
    For some lost futures that the dead had dreamt,
    Covered the land with their lamenting stone-
    But in our hearts we bear a heavier load;
    The bodies of the dead beside the road.
     

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