The Home Front

I know a woman happily demented

She scatters petals as she sleeps,

Sings the songs of the 1940s,

Thinks she is Bo-Peep.

When she worked in a cake shop

She was put to the test

She casts her mind back and lets it rest.

Passes the test of time. In rhyme.

Dresses her hair in a yellow head scarf

Says apropos of nothing but the truth

"The hyacinth will soon be out. I love 

The smell of hyacinth," I tell her, I do too

And then we do the soft shoe shuffle and I sing

"On Mother Kelly's doorstep down Paradise Row".

I love spending time with her in rain or sun or falling snow.

She is my mum and I love her so. 

◄ Lovers' parting

i.m. Vasily Zaystev ►

Comments

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Wed 5th Feb 2020 10:12

That poem by Miklos is outstanding. Thank you, John.

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keith jeffries

Tue 4th Feb 2020 14:37

John,

Thank you for this. I had not heard of Radnoti Miklos but shall explore him and his poetry as his personal history is very interesting. After the war a memorial was erected in his honour, which has only recently been desecrated. The poem you cite is one which will encourage my research into him.

I recently watched a Hungarian made film by the Director Laszlo Nemes entitled "The Son of Saul". It is in Hungarian and deals with the plight of Hungarian Jews in a German Concentration Camp. As I was reading about Radnoti the film came to mind. It is freely available on You Tube with English sub titles. Beware the content is raw and explicit.

Thank you for some excellent poetry and your comments.

Keith

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John Marks

Mon 3rd Feb 2020 23:33

Keith

I am so sorry that you feel that way but, I must confess, I am only a few years behind you and I often feel the same way. I return to a place that I knew well when I was young (for instance, north-west London, metroland) and find it utterly changed (the buildings, the people, the ambiance). I am a stranger in a strange land, where the sacrifices of, for example, all the young pilots and aircrew who died defending us in the early summer of 1940 mean nothing at all.

How it felt at the time is indicated in the poem FOAMY SKY by the Jewish-Hungarian poet Radnóti Miklós (1909-1944)

The moon sways on a foamy sky,
I am amazed that I live.
An overzealous death searches this age
and those it discovers are all so very pale.

At times the year looks around and shrieks,
looks around and then fades away.
What an autumn cowers behind me again
and what a winter, made dull by pain.

The forest bled and in the spinning
time blood flowed from every hour.
Large and looming numbers were
scribbled by the wind onto the snow.

I lived to see that and this,
the air feels heavy to me.
A war sound-filled silence hugs me
as before my nativity.

I stop here at the foot of a tree,
its crown swaying angrily.
A branch reaches down -- to grab my neck?
I'm not a coward, nor am I weak,

just tired. I listen. And the frightened
branch explores my hair.
To forget would be best, but I have
never forgotten anything yet.

Radnóti Miklós, 8th June, 1940.

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keith jeffries

Mon 3rd Feb 2020 22:01

John,

A comment on your comment. At the age of 72 I walk about this country feeling detached, as if it is somewhere which I have found and do not want to be.

Keith

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John Marks

Mon 3rd Feb 2020 15:51

Thank you Keith, Tom and Cynthia. I take no morsel of pleasure in thinking that, for a generation who sacrificed so much, modern England must appear an utterly hollow, selfish and alien place.

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Mon 3rd Feb 2020 14:56

This is a beautiful 'thing' about a beautiful 'thing'. It brought tears to my eyes.

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keith jeffries

Mon 3rd Feb 2020 13:46

John,

a poem from memory lane without a doubt. Your mother and mine belonged to the same generation which for me, brings back songs such as "Run Rabbit Run", "Goodnight Children everywhere" and the sounds of Glenn Miller. They lived in a world so different and remote to what we now witness. I often wonder how my parents would have coped with Rap Music or the television programmes of today.

Thank you for this

Keith

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