Week 24: It is near Toussaints, by Ivor Gurney

It is near Toussaints

It is near Toussaints, the living and dead will say:
‘Have they ended it? What has happened to Gurney?’
And along the leaf-strewn roads of France many brown shades
Will go, recalling singing, and a comrade for whom also they
Had hoped well…

On the night of all the dead, they will remember me,
Pray Michael, Nicholas, Maries lost in Novembery
River-mist in the old City of our dear love, and batter
At doors about the farms crying ‘Our war poet is lost.
Madame, no bon!’ – and cry his two names, warningly, sombrely.

Ivor Gurney

The poems of the First World War poet Ivor Gurney dance on the edge of disintegration – it could be argued that not many of them achieve completeness, but they are brave and vulnerable and usually offer some memorable quirk of observation or language.

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