Hampstead WW1 Poems & Letters - HAMPSTEAD HEATH - 2016***

Hampstead
Heath
2017
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Hampstead WW1 Poems & Letters

THE HEATH AT WAR! (1914 - 1918)
Poems and Letters

"The Dancers" by Edith Sitwell
(During a Great Battle, 1916)

The floors are slippery with blood:
The world gyrates too. God is good
That while His wind blows out the light
For those who hourly die for is –
We still can dance each night.

The music has grown numb with death –
But we will suck their dying breath,
The whispered name they breathed to chance,
To swell our music, make it loud
That we may dance, - may dance.

We are the dull blind carrion-fly
That dance and batten. Though God die
Mad from the horror of the light –
The light is mad, too, flecked with blood, -
We dance, we dance, each night.


(Dame Edith Sitwell lived at one time at 42 Greenhill Road and finally at 11a Keats Grove, Hampstead, see below)

EASTER MONDAY
(In Memorium E.T.)

In the last letter that I had from France
You thanked me for the silver Easter egg
Which I had hidden in the box of apples
You liked to munch beyond all other fruit.
You found the egg the Monday before Easter,
And said, "I will praise Easter Monday now -
It was such a lovely morning". Then you spoke
Of the coming battle and said, "This is the eve.
Good-bye. And may I have a letter soon."

That Easter Monday was a day for praise,
It was such a lovely morning. In our garden
We sowed our earliest seeds, and in the orchard
The apple-bud was ripe. It was the eve.
There are three letters that you will not get.

Eleanor Farjeon, April 9th 1917

(Eleanor Farjeon (1881 - 1965)  was an English author of children's stories, plays, poetry and satire.
She is buried in the churchyard of St John-at-Hampstead)


Now That You Too
Now that you too must shortly go the way
Which in these bloodshot years uncounted men
Have gone in vanishing armies day by day,
And in their numbers will not come again:
I must not strain the moments of our meeting
Striving for each look, each accent, not to miss,
Or question of our parting and our greeting,
Is this the last of all? is this—or this?

Last sight of all it may be with these eyes,
Last touch, last hearing, since eyes, hands, and ears,
Even serving love, are our mortalities,
And cling to what they own in mortal fears:—
But oh, let end what will, I hold you fast
By immortal love, which has no first or last.

Eleanor Farjeon

My Boy Jack
Rudyard Kipling

“Have you news of my boy Jack?”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind —
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

(Rudyard Kipling's daughter, Elsie, lived at Burgh House with her husband, Captain George Bambridge from 1934. This poem above was written about his son John's death during WW1)

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