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My final re-blog of older poems associated with World War 1…

So, you are off up north, Candia, for a couple of days?  Brassica looked

curious.  We were sipping cold drinks in Costamuchamoulah’s courtyard,

as it was such pleasant weather.

Yes, Carrie wanted me to go and see her relations in Glasgow, but it is

always hectic when you are only there for a few days.

So, what will you do?

Scout around Edinburgh, probably.  There is plenty to research. Last time I

went into Napier University, as I discovered that it was the original hospital of

Craiglockhart, where Wilfred Owen and Sassoon were rehabilitated. In the film

of Pat Barker’s novel, ‘Regeneration’, they made Overtoun House near

Dumbarton the setting instead. That interested me as I was born in that

house- in the Angel Ward- naturally.  It was a maternity hospital in the

1950s. 

121124 Overtoun House, Dunbartonshire.jpg

I suppose it was giving life, whereas Craiglockhart was dealing with those

whose lives had been taken from them in many ways.

Wow!  Brassica was genuinely interested.  We had  been to see the film

together. Yes, it was spine-tingling to have access to the archives.  When I

signed in, the name previous to mine on the signature list was Pat Barker’s

herself! I expect she was researching Captain Rivers’ work with the

shell-shocked and traumatised.

First edition cover

So, this visit had an impact on you, Candia?

Yes, I will send you a poem that I wrote about it and you can share it with my

readers.  It will keep everyone interested till I return and let everyone know

what happened to Augustus Snodbury!

Siegfried Sassoon by George Charles Beresford (1915).jpg

Note from Brassica: here is Candia’s poem:

CONFLICT AT CRAIGLOCKHART

Gales bombard barred windows.  Down the line,

Ypres to Frise, they ask why I am warm,

wrapped in best British buff while they chitter

with Christ in no-man’s land. Blunt bayonets

are rusted by His tears, which trickle down,

augmenting quagmires. Celestial spires

could be seen from Salisbury Crags today:

Holyrood nimbused in a golden haar.

Over Colinton meteor showers

blaze like shells, or comets auguring death.

Soldiers have to learn to live with their dreams,

as do poets, who paeon ploughshares.

Now pale spirits make their way to my bed

past padded cells of wretches who inhale

corpse stenches, retching with no catharsis

in this decayed hydro, with trench fever.

I can’t subdue hydras any more.

Like Antaeus, I am strong just as long

as I keep my feet solidly entrenched.

It is time to return to my platoon

before my name is mud; my verse bare bones,

putrefying in Graves’ pre-planned rut,

with stammerers, neurotics with trench foot,

gangrened privates, nervous tics, the mute.

Now it is time to go over the top:

not a moment too soon, Siegfried Sassoon.

Wilfred Owen plate from Poems (1920).jpg

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