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Old 03-20-2018, 01:26 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Default Poems from Late 1939

Hello, can you suggest to me other poems written in late 1939? There is, of course, Auden’s “September 1939,” and I have been looking at Roethke’s “Lull (November 1939).” I am struck by how similar the tone, form and even the diction are to Auden’s poem:


The winds of hatred blow
Cold, cold across the flesh
And chill the anxious heart;
Intricate phobias grow
From each malignant wish
To spoil collective life.
Now each man stands apart.

We watch opinion drift,
Think of our separate skins.
On well-upholstered bums
The generals cough and shift
Playing with painted pins.
The arbitrators wait;
The newsmen suck their thumbs.
The mind is quick to turn
Away from simple faith
To the cant and fury of
Fools who will never learn;
Reason embraces death,
While out of frightened eyes
Still stares the wish to love.
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Old 03-20-2018, 03:59 PM
Kevin Greene Kevin Greene is offline
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Location: Midwest
Posts: 725

Aaron, what an interesting question.

Here are links to Poetry magazine from October and November 1939. There are some poems there that clearly address the outbreak of war or its threat.


I have a sense that the upcoming horror of the war was best foreseen by those poets who knew firsthand about the civil war in Spain. That's something I hope to look into.
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Old 03-20-2018, 04:48 PM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Dumb idea.

Last edited by RCL; 03-28-2018 at 12:19 AM.
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Old 03-23-2018, 09:01 PM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Dumber idea.

Last edited by RCL; 03-28-2018 at 12:19 AM.
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Old 03-31-2018, 02:20 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is online now
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,700

In my days on London campus I was introduced to the sketching, drawings and poetry of Mervyn Peake. I remember him as a sensitive soul who wrote about the agony of war. I no longer have any of his work, but did a little research and found this.

I don't know if in fact it was penned in 1939... Probably not, since "1941" is in the title. but I would guess he has some socially connected poems that resonated the times just prior to declaration of war.

At any rate, it was nice to visit Mervyn again. Good luck with your project. It sounds intriguing. Auden's "Lull" poem is penetrating.
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Old 03-31-2018, 06:37 PM
Mark Blaeuer Mark Blaeuer is offline
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Arkansas, USA
Posts: 579

"The British Museum Reading Room" and "London rain" are both dated July 1939. "The closing album" is dated August-September 1939.
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