Thursday, November 06, 2008

Saturday 31st January 1942

I wrote out a piece of exquisite poetry last night, just before going to bed. Whether through this or not, is difficult to say but I certainly slept well last night and had many, vaguely happy dreams. War – and the desert – came into these dreams of course (I don't think I've had a dream of peace or England, during the last 23 months) yet they remained subtly happy.

And eventually I woke up, just as I'd wanted to, 45 minutes before reveille! I got up then, as I'd been detailed for Orderly Bombardier and that meant a busy forenoon.

The poetry in question was quoted in a rather dull book called “Told by an Idiot”. At the bottom of a page idly being scanned, I found some reference to the “haunting” poetry of WB Yeats and “the tired, twilight loveliness of Fiona Macleod.” Something like that. Fiona Macleod, I pondered. Never heard of her! And I turned the page. There were two bits of poetry on the other side. The first one must have been Fiona's, because “tired, twilight loveliness” was so suitable a description. The second poem, presumably by Yeats, was also fine (both went in my private book of lieblichkeit, which I started in No. 3 General just after being evacuated from Tobruch!) but I'll write the first one out again, here, as it (ALAS!) fits my present mood.

“O years with tears and tears through weary years,
How weary I, who in your arms have lain;
Now I am tired; the sound of slipping spears
Moves soft, and tears fall in a bloody rain,
And the chill footless years go over me who am slain.
I hear, as in a wood dim with old light, the rain
Slow falling; old, old weary human tears,
And in the deepening dusk my comfort is my pain,
Sole comfort left of all my hopes and fears,
Pain that alone survives, gaunt hound of the shadowy years.”

Re the Eternal Bloody Realities. My forebodings of the war news were correct, for once. Benghazi has been evacuated by our troops, who are now withdrawing northwards. The best part of an Indian Brigade was cut off and lost in Benghazi.

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