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Overtures to Death and Other Poems
Overtures to Death and Other Poems | Cecil Day Lewis
6 posts | 1 read | 1 to read
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"Overtures to Death", as might be suggested by the title, is not a collection of joyful poems. Even those poems using beautiful nature imagery do so to reflect upon mortality. There is much of war, obliquely and directly, in particular the war against fascism in Spain, and of social injustice. Particularly powerful is the exposure of judicial and cultural hypocrisy in "Sex-Crime", which is still too relevant. Looking up references was educational.

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"Black as vermin, crawling in echelon
Beneath the cloud-floor, the bombers come:
The heavy angels, carrying harm in
Their wombs that ache to be rid of death.

This is the seed that grows for ruin,
The iron embryo conceived in fear.
Soon or late its need must be answered
In fear delivered and screeching fire.

Choose between your child and this fatal embryo."

- Bombers

Chrissyreadit This is a pretty powerful poem. It has a different tone than the war poems I‘m used to seeing. More realistic and in your face. Like a good one to teach in school. 2mo
Bookwomble @Chrissyreadit It is striking, isn't it. Although I've used a WWII image, the poem was written before shortly that conflict. Whilst cutting the pages, I glimpsed a poem further on in the collection which is about the Spanish Civil War, and which references Guernica, so I imagine the present poem relates to that atrocity. 2mo
Chrissyreadit @Bookwomble I knew from the year it had to be a different war. I‘m not anti or pro war- but angry at how it is glamorized and over used as a solution. This poem was such a solid reminder of what war does. 2mo
16 likes3 comments
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"Infirm and grey
This leaden-hearted day
Drags its lank hours, wishing itself away.

Grey as the skin
Of long-imprisoned men
The sky, and holds a poisoned thought within.

Whether to die,
Or live beneath fear's eye -
Heavily hangs the sentence of this sky."

- February 1936

bibliothecarivs When I travelled to England five years ago, I went to St Michael's, Stinsford to visit Thomas Hardy's grave. I was surprised to also find Day Lewis's grave. He apparently wanted to be buried near Hardy. 2mo
Bookwomble @bibliothecarivs I thought Hardy was buried at Westminster Abbey, and while he mostly is, I see that his heart was interred at Stinsford, and there's the monument to him that you visited 🙂 C. Day-Lewis's decision to be buried next to his literary hero had me thinking who I'd choose to be inhumed near. Perhaps, predictably, Tolkien, or maybe Mervyn Peake 🤔 2mo
bibliothecarivs @Bookwomble that's great. I was unfamiliar with Peake so this morning I spent some time researching him. My dream literary burial neighbors would be Hardy, Yeats, or Orwell. I actually don't know where Orwell is buried. I need to go look that up. 2mo
Bookwomble @bibliothecarivs Tempting as it would be to search for Orwell's grave at Wigan Pier, he's actually buried at All Saints' Church, Sutton Courtenay, Berkshire. http://www.damascusparish.org.uk/assc.html 😊 2mo
18 likes4 comments
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This recently-acquired 1946 edition still has some uncut pages! It's quite enjoyable to slice them, knowing that after all those years, I'll be the first person to actually read the freed leaves 😊🗡📖

SolaRaynor Very cool! 2mo
17 likes1 comment
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"Maple and sumach down this autumn ride -
Look, in what scarlet character they speak!
For this their russet and rejoicing week
Trees spend a year of sunsets on their pride."

- Maple and Sumach
#autumn #trees #poetry

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A couple of poetry books by authors I probably should have read already, but haven't. The Heany is a nice clean second-hand edition, the Day-Lewis a little more careworn but, as a 1946 edition, it's in fairly fine fettle for its age. Each priced at £1.50, so it would have been rude not to 😏📚

vivastory I love Heaney. Enjoy! 2mo
23 likes1 comment