Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

MCMXIV — Never such innocence again

I thought a fitting way to end the first year of the Centennial commemoration of the war would be to post a Great War poem that published in the year of its 50th Anniversary.  MH

MCMXIV, by Philip Larkin

Party at a Thames Resort Just before the War

Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On mustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;

And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day;

And the countryside not caring:
The place-names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat's restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;

Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word - the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.


  1. Very nice, Sad that many of the men pictured in those halcyon days of June-July 1914 across Europe were gone to the ages by year's end

  2. Both poignant and shockingly sad.