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181 Appendix A Other Poems and Song Parodies Written During World War II Other Poems Written During the War Evacuees What have you to complain of Oh foolish children of men? You have changed the dirt of London For the green of the country again. We shall have to put up with something Since the tide of war has caught us, So why do you long for Leicester Square, When you can have “Two Waters”? No longer on dusty pavements Do you have to push your prams, You can hear the song of the thrushes Instead of the noise of trams. Your child sees the front in the hedges, And is glad each day when he wakes; Oh where is the lure of Peckham High When you can have “Hare-breaks”? You will soon get used to the quiet Instead of the rush of cars, And forget the Neon lighting As you learn the names of the stars. The meadows will show their secrets, O foolish ones! Why do you yearn 182 | Appendix A For the sordid glamour of Oxford Street, When you can have “Sparrow’s Herne”? (c. 1940) Paris Has Fallen A hawk hangs poised above the sunlit fields, The uncut grass is vivid with June rain, Children with gas-masks chatter off to school, Paris has fallen. Goose-stepping down the wide Champs Élysées, Their heavy boots beneath Napoleon’s arch, Their rifle-butts put out the sacred flame; Paris, Paris, Paris. Machine-guns in the Place de la Concorde, Heinkels above the towers of Notre Dame, Paris has fallen. “Tea in the garden, James, and strawberry jam, These two people, I forget the name Are dropping in—” Paris has fallen. “Stop-me-and-buy one” with its tinkling bell Rings through the evening lanes, but lanes near Tours Are packed with fear. A thousand hurrying feet Push on, with mattresses, and prams piled high, While close behind, the “iron castles” roll, Mowing their passage through the meadow-sweet. “We kept them out for seventy years; but now We had no guns! Where were the ’75s’? We fought and fought, and died”—“Oh yes, and James, Remind me to turn on the news at six.” The drone of Junkers over Fontainbleau, Paris has fallen. (14 June 1940) Appendix A | 183 I Did Not Think I did not think that I should ever know Such utter emptiness since you are gone, Or that it meant that I should miss you so, And in a busy world be so alone. There was so little time in which to share The pleasures, and the sorrows, and the fears; I put my hand out, and you are not there, And once again I know the prick of tears. I want you when the mist is on the hills, I want you when the sun first floods the sky, I want you in the coming dusk, that stills The day-winds; then the small new moon climbs high. How could we know, Fate would be so unkind, As to take you, and leave me here behind? (1 September 1940) The feel of dew-wet grass beneath bare feet, Plums, just too ripe, that come clean from the stone, A single raider’s double-thudding drone, The sound of sandals flopping down the street. The warm, sweet smell of cows, the soothing touch Of a soft sponge. The steady, gentle drip Of water from the spring-board’s matted tip. We shared these things, and many another such, These friendly, ordinary things we knew and loved so much. White searchlights fingering the shifting cloud, A brown back, that the sun’s still hot upon, The enchanting folly of a cheap French song, Or in the dark, a poem said half-aloud. All these delights were yours and mine to share, Words were not needed between you and me; But when forgetting it, I turn to see 184 | Appendix A Your answering glance—and find you are not there, The stubborn tears trickle unheeded back into my hair. (15 September 1940) The tunnel is not very long, dear heart, It has no bend, And you can see the end, Though fears beset you in the darkest part. The light you hold, A shadowy gleam of gold, That is my love, and with you from the start. Though the soft darkness as you first go through Thrills you with fear, And close beside your ear, Strange whisperings and doubts beleaguer you; Brush them away...


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