Culture Magazine

Some Blunden Links

By Praymont
Carcanet has published a volume of poetry by John Greening. Most of the poems are addressed to WWI poets. The volume also includes translations of some German and Austrian poets (e.g., Trakl and Heym). One of Greening's poems is 'To Edmund Blunden (Ypres)', read by Greening on YouTube.
Greening on Blunden:
Here was a war poetry that had never quite left Pound’s ‘dim land of peace’. It was comfortable with syntactical inversion, ‘poetic’ diction, literary allusion. It described nature. Blunden wrote of shepherds as others might mention bus conductors. He assumed readers knew the difference between an ash and an elm, could recognize a coppice, had heard of a hame, a garth.
Another quotation of Greening, this time on Blunden's preferred mode of pastoral being stressed to the breaking point on the western front: 'The period 1914-18 was a stylistic turning point. You see it in the work of someone like Blunden, who wants to be a conventional pastoralist, but whose style is almost torn apart under the pressure of events (his ‘Third Ypres’ for instance).'
Also from Carcanet, Fall in, Ghosts: The War Prose of Edmund Blunden, ed. Robyn Marsack.
From Michael Slater's 1997 review of Overtones of War (ed. Martin Taylor):
A most valuable feature of this edition is Taylor's inclusion of all Blunden's post-publication handwritten annotations to poems, made in 1929 and 1954: against "A.G.A.V." he wrote, "Shot himself in a fit of despair, 1924, after long mental misery ... Vidler had been badly wounded, and could not endure many years after though always full of friendship and humor."
'...but we could do nothing except just stare....'

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