Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Lost The Wind's Warning": Ivor Gurney

Derek Mahon's "Leaves" (please see my post for October 24, 2010) brings to mind the following poem by Ivor Gurney -- the wind and the leaves, of course, but Time and Loss as well.  According to the editor of the collection in which the poem appears, it was "written on the back of an Oxford University Press letterhead dated 6 March 1929.  [It was] signed 'Valentine Fane' by Gurney; he frequently used such names on his later manuscripts."

                  The Wind

All night the fierce wind blew --
All night I knew
Time, like a dark wind, blowing
All days, all lives, all memories
Down empty endless skies --
A blind wind, strowing
Bright leaves of life's torn tree
through blank eternity:
Dreadfully swift, Time blew.
All night I knew
the outrush of its going.

At dawn a thin rain wept.
Worn out, I slept
And woke to a fair morning.
My days were amply long, and I content
In their accomplishment --
Lost the wind's warning.

Ivor Gurney, Selected Poems (edited by George Walter) (1996).

                                     A. J. Casson, "Pike Lake" (c. 1929)


Tim Kendall said...

This is, almost certainly, the last poem that Gurney ever wrote. Philip Lancaster and I have discussed the question of its authorship, because there was, apparently, a poet called Valentina Fane. But Gurney signed many poems with other poets' names.

zmkc said...

Phew - lines 3 to 5 are especially striking.

Stephen Pentz said...

Tim: Thank you very much for visiting and commenting again. And thank you indeed for the additional information about Gurney and the poem!

As I have noted before, I look forward in great anticipation to the authoritative edition of Gurney's poetry being prepared by you and Mr. Lancaster. You are performing a great service for us all.

Stephen Pentz said...

Thank you, zmkc. 'Phew!' (and/or 'wow!') was my feeling as well when I first encountered the poem. Gurney will often do that to you.

Murgatroyd said...

Great combination of poem & image once again Mr P. Love the intensity of this piece, never crossed paths with Gurney before but hope to again...

Stephen Pentz said...

Murgatroyd: Thank you for visiting and commenting again, and for your kind words. I am pleased that you like the poem -- Gurney deserves to be better known. Thank you again.