Sunday 16 November 2014

Sunday War Poet ~ Author's Choice ~ Karen Maitland

I am delighted to welcome to my blog


Sharing her Sunday WW1 Poem

When I was a child I went to stay with an elderly great aunt who’d never married, but who always wore a slender engagement ring. I loved it, but was curious about why she never removed that particular ring, even to do the washing-up. When I finally plucked up the courage to ask her and she said simply - ‘I wear it for someone who never came back.’

Then she went to her bedroom and brought down a faded book of Rupert Brooke’s poems. She opened it at this poem ‘Fragment’ and told me to read it. ‘When you’re old enough to truly understand that poem,’ she said, ‘you’ll understand why I always wear this ring.

We never spoke of it again, but when she died she left me the book of poems and the ring. I wear the ring constantly myself now. It’s thin with age, but I wouldn't part with it. I never did discover the name of the person she’d lost. Rumour in family was that she was engaged to a First World War pilot who was killed in action. I don’t know if that is true, but I wear the ring for my aunt and for all the unnamed ones who never returned. 

And this poem still chills me. We are all ghosts in waiting.

Fragment ~ Rupert Brooke

I strayed about the deck, an hour, to-night
Under a cloudy moonless sky; and peeped
In at the windows, watched my friends at table,
Or playing cards, or standing in the doorway,
Or coming out into the darkness. Still
No one could see me.

                                          I would have thought of them
—Heedless, within a week of battle—in pity,
Pride in their strength and in the weight and firmness
And link’d beauty of bodies, and pity that
This gay machine of splendour ’ld soon be broken,
Thought little of, pashed, scattered. …

                                                                        Only, always,
I could but see them—against the lamplight—pass
Like coloured shadows, thinner than filmy glass,
Slight bubbles, fainter than the wave’s faint light,
That broke to phosphorus out in the night,
Perishing things and strange ghosts—soon to die
To other ghosts—this one, or that, or I.


Karen Maitland is the best selling author 


Company of Liars The Owl Killers The Gallows Curse The Falcons of Fire and Ice The Vanishing Witch


The Raven's Head

 Due in August 2015

Huge thanks to Karen for sharing her personal memories of this poem and for explaining why
Fragment by Rupert Brooke is so important to her.


1 comment:

  1. My thanks to Karen for sharing Fragment with us. It's a wonderful, evocative poem and which will stay with me for a long time.


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