* You are viewing the archive for May, 2017

Notes on Keith Douglas’s “Vergissmeinnicht”

It’s easy to see why “Vergissmeinnicht” is so much admired. Plain-spoken as it mostly is, it combines clarity with force, even before we get to the punchline, and the plain words are deployed with striking sensitivity in the shifting and combining of tones.


Three weeks gone and the combatants gone
returning over the nightmare ground
we found the place again, and found
the soldier sprawling in the sun.

The frowning barrel of his gun
overshadowing. As we came on
that day, he hit my tank with one
like the entry of a demon.

Look. Here in the gunpit spoil
the dishonoured picture of his … Continue Reading

Review – Alice Oswald, Falling Awake

Falling Awake by Alice Oswald. Cape Poetry, Jonathan Cape, 96pp. £10.00


One of my favourite poems in Falling Awake is the first, “A Short History of Falling”, with its lilting cadences and lovely musical returns of sound and idea:

It is the story of the falling rain
to turn into a leaf and fall again

it is the secret of a summer shower
to steal the light and hide it in a flower

and every flower a tiny tributary
that from the ground flows green and momentary

That’s like a fairytale, using a childlike simplicity of language to evoke vast, complicated  processes … Continue Reading