Week 137: Huesca, by John Cornford

John Cornford (1915-1936), son of the poet Frances Cornford, was a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War and wrote this most moving love poem to fellow activist Margot Heinemann shortly before he was killed on the Cordoba front, on or just after his 21st birthday. Its cadences have long haunted me: I admire its elegiac restraint, its complete lack of rhetoric or bravado.

Huesca

Heart of the heartless world,
Dear heart, the thought of you
Is the pain at my side,
The shadow that chills my view.

The wind rises in the evening,
Reminds that autumn is near.
I am afraid to lose you,
I am afraid of my fear.

On the last mile to Huesca,
The last fence for our pride,
Think so kindly, dear, that I
Sense you at my side.

And if bad luck should lay my strength
Into the shallow grave,
Remember all the good you can;
Don’t forget my love.

John Cornford