By Ivor Gurney
Suddenly into the still air burst thudding And thudding, and cold fear possessed me all, On the gray slopes there, where Winter in sullen brooding Hung between height and depth of the ugly fall Of Heaven to earth; and the thudding was illness’ own. But still a hope I kept that were we there going over, I, in the line, I should not fail, but take recover From others’ courage, and not as coward be known. No flame we saw, the noise and the dread alone Was battle to us; men were enduring there such And such things, in wire tangled, to shatters blown. Courage kept, but ready to vanish at first touch. Fear, but just held. Poets were luckier once In the hot fray swallowed and some magnificence.
Gurney was a poet, an accomplished musician and a composer. He wrote hundreds of poems and more than 300 songs. He survived the war but was sectioned in a mental hospital in 1922, having suffered periods of mental illness that predated his service. He died of tuberculosis at the City of London Mental Hospital in 1937.