As I have noted before, I am reluctant to attribute Gurney's qualities as a poet to his sometimes precarious mental condition. It would be unfair to him to suggest that his sensitivity was a product of that condition. At the risk of sounding romantic, I think that Gurney can be likened to Vincent van Gogh: the sensuous presence of the world -- everything in it -- was so deeply felt by both of them that they were constantly at risk of being overwhelmed (both physically and mentally). It would be a disservice to them to describe their sensitivity as a pathology. Perhaps we are the ones who need to catch up with them.
Enslin Du Plessis, "Cotswold Landscape" (1942)
When March Blows
When March blows, and Monday's linen is shown
On the goose berry bushes, and the worried washer alone
Fights at the soaked stuff, meres and the rutted pools
Mirror the wool-pack clouds, and shine clearer than jewels
And the children throw stones in them, spoil mirrors and clouds
The worry of washing over; the worry of foods,
Brings tea-time; March quietens as the trouble dies.
The washing is brought in under wind-swept clear skies.
Ivor Gurney, Selected Poems (edited by George Walter) (J. M. Dent 1996).
John Singer Sargent, "La Biancheria" (1910)
The subject of the washing drying in the wind brings to mind a lovely poem by Andrew Young. The poem has appeared here before, but it is worth revisiting.
The Shepherd's Hut
The smear of blue peat smoke
That staggered on the wind and broke,
The only sign of life,
Where was the shepherd's wife,
Who left those flapping clothes to dry,
Taking no thought for her family?
For, as they bellied out
And limbs took shape and waved about,
I thought, She little knows
That ghosts are trying on her children's clothes.
Andrew Young, Collected Poems (Rupert Hart-Davis 1960).
James McIntosh Patrick, "A City Garden" (1940)