Sunday, 13 April 2014

'Elegy' by Sidney Keyes: "April Again..."

Photo of Queens College, Oxford by Tejvan Pettinger

While I love the poetry of Sidney Keyes quite desperately, I find it hard to say a great deal about Keyes or indeed about the poems (although it is just possible that I have already written myself out about him here.) Given that he was only 20 when he died in World War II, the poems should probably just speak for themselves.

This poem, 'Elegy', is an April poem which is why I am posting it now. It is worth noting that it was written for his grandfather and that he was 16 when he wrote the poem.

Carol Rumens wrote about it here last year and there is much to appreciate in her analysis and the comments.

ELEGY (Sidney Keyes)

(In memoriam S.K.K.)

April again, and it is a year again
Since you walked out and slammed the door
Leaving us tangled in your words. Your brain
Lives in the bank-book, and your eyes look up
Laughing from the carpet on the floor:
And we still drink from your silver cup.

It is a year again since they poured
The dumb ground into your mouth:
And yet we know, by some recurring word
Or look caught unawares, that you still drive
Our thoughts like the smart cobs of your youth -
When you and the world were alive.

A year again, and we have fallen on bad times
Since they gave you to the worms.
I am ashamed to take delight in these rhymes
Without grief; but you need no tears.
We shall never forget nor escape you, nor make terms
With your enemies, the swift departing years.

                                                                              July 1938.


  1. A magnificent poem. And I didn't know Sidney Keyes ... thank you!


    1. Can you believe he was only 16 when he wrote this? His other work is worth seeking out.

      He came out of copyright this year, which is why I'm posting several of his poems. So sad, because if he hadn't died at 20, he could potentially still be alive...