Joanna Boulter

Lament for Ivor Gurney

In youth, his song roved free.
The curve of a phrase
lifted a hill; notes, words
greening his spring.
Then the bugle sounded. And he
was called to his cadence.

syntax exploded
his meaning
mined and under
mined the slow fuse
thought itself
seismic his
sympathetic vibrations
shuddering to the
impact artillery’s
tear at the
tattered ribbons
of membrane

to hear to speak
is impossible

He whose words and music
sang in perfect consonance
was untuned here, unstrung
from his true-pitched gamut

and what was done to him was beyond all saying.

His mind’s landscape pocked with shell-holes,
Severn running blood, the mists poisoned.
Yet even so, sometimes his shattered shire
miraculously made whole, for a day, an hour;
and his clear singing
poignant as a bird across a battlefield.

Ivor Gurney.                                        JOANNA BOULTER grew up in Wiltshire, Alfred’s Wessex, with a lifelong interest in poetry and music. She has three published pamphlets, and her collection Twenty Four Preludes And Fugues On Dmitri Shostakovich (Arc
Publications) was shortlisted for the Forward First Collection prize (2007).  As a consequence of which she was invited to write the libretto for Andrew Webb-Mitchell’s symphonic song-cycle Songs Of Awe And Wonder. Her second collection Blue Horse appeared in 2014 .