Wednesday, 29 June 2016
Sidney Keyes: 'Neutrality'
Battersea Park. Photo by Clarissa Aykroyd, 2013
'Neutrality' is a particularly interesting poem from one normally considered a war poet. Sidney Keyes called it "one of the poems for which I have - I can't tell you why - genuine affection."
NEUTRALITY (Sidney Keyes)
Here not the flags, the rhythmic
Feet of returning legions; nor at household shrines
The small tears' offering, the postcards
Treasured for years, nor the names cut in brass.
Here not the lowered voices.
Not the drum.
Only at suppertime, rain slanting
Among our orchards, printing its coded
But peaceful messages across our pavements.
Only the cryptic swift performing
His ordered evolutions through our sky.
Only the growing.
And in the night, the secret voices
Of summer, the progression
Of hours without suspense, without surprise.
Only the moon beholds us, even the hunting owl
May watch us without malice.
We are no cowards, we are pictures
Of ordinary people, as you once were.
Blame not nor pity us; we are the people
Who laugh in dreams before the ramping boar
Appears, before the loved one's death.
We are your hope.
16 July 1941.