Thursday, October 7, 2010

Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting

So I didn't win the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Single Poem), but congratulations to Julia Copus, who did, and to the other winners Hilary Menos (Best First Collection) and Seamus Heaney (Best Collection).

I read Wallace Stevens on the train up to London.

From this the poem springs: that we live in a place
That is not our own and, much more, not ourselves
And hard it is in spite of blazoned days.

I've also been reading M. R. D. Foot's Six Faces of Courage: True Stories of World War II Resistance Fighters (1978). It makes one feel very humble. Here's a typical passage:

'Pondering the confusions of the Fresnes [Prison] entrance hall, Harry [Peleuvé] glimpsed the possibility of an escape [. . .] One day they returned to Fresnes [after being cross-questioned elsewhere] just at the moment when a mass of visitors, who had called on ordinary French criminal prisoners, were leaving; the main hall was crowded. At a moment when the warder in charge of his party was distracted, Peleuvé unostentatiously joined the throng of visitors. He ran promptly ran into a snag: on leaving, each visitor had to give up the chit that had given him or her permission to enter. He had a few sheets of lavatory paper in his coat pocket, proffered one of them, and strolled on. Unluckily for him, the warder collecting the chits noticed, and called out. Peleuvé broke into a run; a German sentry promptly shot him through the thigh and brought him down.

The sergeant of the guard ran up, recognized him, and had him carried back to his cell, where he was left quite alone. As no one came to look after his wound, he cared for himself; found that his thighbone was unbroken, and that the bullet was still lodged in his flesh; and dug it out with the only implement he had, the handle of his soup spoon. For the rest of his life he had a hole in his thigh, as wide as his little finger and a couple of inches deep; but the wound was quite clean, and promptly healed up.'

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