Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Private Gurney

This is a poem about Ivor Gurney - if that name sounds strange to you, check out this very comprehensive website dedicated to the man.


But the universe is infinitely small. All matter collapses into itself, and we grow always inward, away from ancient implosions. Look up at the sky: the telescope is a microscope. The scope, the focus fails, stars blur and flare, grow heads and tails, flash like comets, squirm like bacilli...

There is something suspicious about the dead. Their cheeks hollow out, their foreheads collapse, and their balls are as big as chestnuts, but their bellies swell, and they grow their hair and nails long, like women. We shuffle our feet beside the wire, take turns shovelling peat and fog.

On Wednesday I knelt in the watch tower, near where the wire turns to trenches and shelled oaks. A soldier tramped over the horizon and through a hedgerow. In my rifle lens he was huge and grey, stumbling in a torn overcoat. Climbing the parapet, he was as tall as a boy, and in the inner trench he grew still smaller, so that by the time he pointed his peashooter rifle through the wire he was no larger than a Gloucester hare. I shot him before he disappeared. This morning I tripped over his body, on our side of the wire.


Blogger Richard Taylor said...

I think highly of this poem - it is a great poem like some of the ones you were doing associated with Rountree and the guy who jumps off the yacht after studying Einstein - etc -but even if people don't know Gurney they can guess he was in a war and the effect- the disabling disorienteering effect of war comes through added to the poet's fascination with cosmology etc or whatever you name it...the sureal and the "real" intersect somwewhat. The distortion and possibly the enhancement of the "real" -the inherent questioning of everything.

3:26 pm  

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