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Poem of the week: Sonnet – September 1922 by Ivor Gurney

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This meditation on defeat was written around the time the author was declared insane, but shows a thoroughly lucid artistry

Sonnet – September 1922

Fierce indignation is best understood by those
Who have time or no fear, or a hope in its real good.
One loses it with a filed soul or in sentimental mood.
Anger is gone with sunset, or flows as flows
The water in easy mill-runs; the earth that ploughs
Forgets protestation in its turning, the rood
Prepares, considers, fulfils; and the poppy’s blood
Makes old the old changing of the headland’s brows.

But the toad under the harrow toadiness
Is known to forget, and even the butterfly
Has doubts of wisdom when that clanking thing goes by
And’s not distressed. A twisted thing keeps still –
That thing easier twisted than a grocer’s bill –
And no history of November keeps the guy.

Related: Poem of the week: The Mangel-Bury by Ivor Gurney

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