Best of Second World War Poetry
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the guardian Fri 03 July 2009
If this moving and beautifully read anthology doesn't go a long way to redressing the balance between blanket adulation for the Great War poets and relative coolness towards their WW2 equivalents, there's no justice in the world. Comic, satirical, lyrical, savage - these different views of the madness of war will stay with you for a long time. Here's the last of a stunning collection, "Polliciti Meliora (Having Promised Better Things)" by Frank Thompson: "As one who, gazing at a vista / Of beauty, sees the clouds close in, / And turns his back in sorrow, hearing / The thunderclouds begin, / So we, whose life was all before us, / Our hearts with sunlight filled, / Left in the hills our books and flowers, / Descended, and were killed. / Write on the stones no words of sadness - / Only the gladness due, / That we, who asked the most of living, / Knew how to give it too." Thompson was captured and shot in Sofia in 1944.