Poetics and Poetry Discussion

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Jim Hogg Male, 59, United Kingdom (11/24/2013 11:32:00 AM)

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Lamont, hope you don't mind me quoting the letter that inspired Longley to write this. A tender recollection. Longley works hard to break through the armour this life soon coats us in, to strike our compassion a telling blow... a sonnet worth reciting out loud.

Tom McAlindon's letter, from Two Brothers Two Wars

" We had a young volunteer here called Bobbie Kernaghan. He said he was seventeen but looked about fifteen to me. He was just out and so keen to get at the Germans, they had killed his favourite uncle. He was from Balfour Street in Belfast and said it's a small world, a neighbour of his was an Annie O'Hagan from the Mointies. Do you know her?I straightened his pack and checked his rifle (everything we have and wear is plastered with mud) before we went up and over on the 9th. We had hardly gone ten yards when he got it in the chest. He looked like a schoolboy asleep when they brought him in and laid him down. He lay covered over in the bottom of the trench for a few days. Every time I passed him I thought of when I was seventeen and of the nine years I've had since then. You get very callous here after a while, you simply have to, but this lad's death got through all my callousness. The Divisional Commander inspected us this morning and congratulated us on our 'great work at Ovillers'. Great! "

• Tom McAlindon served in the Royal Irish Rifles

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  • Rookie - 774 Points Lamont Palmer (11/24/2013 1:15:00 PM) Post reply
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    Interesting and tragic story, Jim. I can see why that moved Longley to pen the poem. I enjoy Longley, as well as Mahon; solid writers and two of my favorite. Also Harry Clifton. -LP

  • Rookie - 247 Points Laughing@ You (11/24/2013 11:56:00 AM) Post reply

    Jim, minus the word " Lamont" - your commentary on this poem is sheer poetry in and of itself, in particular your third sentence.

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