Vlamertinghe: Passing the Chateau

‘The Falcon’s Bath’ (ca. 1400)

 

‘And all her silken flanks with garlands drest’—
But we are coming to the sacrifice.
Must those flowers who are not yet gone West?
May those flowers who live with death and lice?
This must be the floweriest place
That earth allows; the queenly face
Of the proud mansion borrows grace for grace
Spite of those brute guns lowing at the skies.

Bold great daisies’ golden lights,
Bubbling roses’ pinks and whites—
Such a gay carpet! poppies by the million;
Such damask! such vermilion!
But if you ask me, mate, the choice of colour
Is scarcely right; this red should have been duller.

Edmund Blunden (1896 – 1974)

 

“My experiences in the First World War have haunted me all my life and for many days I have, it seemed, lived in that world rather than this.” E.B.
“To Blunden the countryside is magical. It is as precious as English literature, with which indeed it is almost identical. … both the countryside and English literature are ‘alive,’ and both have ‘feelings.’”  Paul Fussell
As Alec Hardie has pointed out, nearly every author Blunden writes about has “some personal reason for deserving sympathy as a man: prolonged ill-health, madness, suicide, or some inability to deal with the circumstances of his time.” ““He is temperamentally unwilling to show other than sympathy.”

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