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Poem Title:  Strange Hells

Poem Category:  War Poems

Poet:  Ivor Gurney

Poet Biography: 
Ivor Gurney (1890-1937) was born in Gloucester. His main writings were in poetry and music from before the war. As one of the war poets he volunteered to fight and was initially turned down because of his poor eyesight. Gassed and wounded he returned to Britain but unfortunately mental illness developed. Eventually died of tuberculosis.



Poem: 
There are strange Hells within the minds War made
Not so often, not so humiliating afraid
As one would have expected - the racket and fear guns made.

One Hell the Gloucester soldiers they quite put out;
Their first bombardment, when in combined black shout
Of fury, guns aligned, they ducked low their heads
And sang with diaphragms fixed beyond all dreads,
That tin and stretched-wire tinkle, that blither of tune;
"Apres la guerre fini" till Hell all had come down,
Twelve-inch, six-inch, and eighteen pounders hammering Hell's thunders.

Where are they now on State-doles, or showing shop patterns
Or walking town to town sore in borrowed tatterns
Or begged. Some civic routine one never learns.
The heart burns - but has to keep out of face how heart burns.


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