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Some remarks on the Poetry of Alun Lewis

Postscript: For Gweno

If I should go away,
Beloved, do not say
‘He has forgotten me’.
For you abide,
A singing rib within my dreaming side;
You always stay.
And in the mad tormented valley
Where blood and hunger rally
And Death the wild beast is uncaught, untamed,
Our soul withstands the terror
And has its quiet honour
Among the glittering stars your voices named.

Alun Lewis is a poet whose writing is associated with the Second World War in which he died in Burma in 1944. It is then naturally a poetry of partings, separation and yet shows the tenderness which is expressed in the poem above. See also https://allpoetry.com/Alun-Lewis

However, it is the following lines which grasped my attention and which are shown here from a poem called Destruction:-

In this intriguing passage, the viaduct arches feels like an image, perhaps from a dream suggesting transportation, crossing a gulf as well as the industrial Welsh scenery which it also evokes. The polluted river contrasts remarkably with the dreaming girl. I discover that attar of roses, also called otto of rose, essence of rose, or rose oil, fragrant, colourless or pale-yellow liquid is an essential oil distilled from fresh petals. This is followed by a striking consideration of the fragility of the poet’s writing and how it can be affected by the sudden hostility of his own feelings- the destructive feelings which he acknowledges. This too is beautifully expressed in a line of tragic s sounds- “Like a schoolboy’s sling that slays a swallow.” A swallow that might be otherwise be free to rise to otherwise unreachable places. Lewis goes on to compare this to the devastation of war with words that must remind a contemporary reader of the current conflict in Ukraine-“the impersonal drone of death Trembles the throbbing night” so that possible connection is broken as the viaduct is destroyed.

This link for what is possibly Alun Lewis’s most famous poem is also worth exploring:-

https://shows.acast.com/the-daily-poem/episodes/alun-lewis-today-it-has-rained

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