An extract from a poem in 'A Gramophone on the Subject', first published in The Pity
Denise writes: "These verses could be sung by dead soldiers replying to Edwin Lutyens, who was commissioned as one of the main war cemetery architects. He was visiting the Ypres battle sites to see what kind of monument could best be constructed there, when he wrote this description in a letter home: ‘a ribbon of isolated graves like a milky way across miles of country where men were tucked in where they fell."

from ‘Tucked in where they fell’

by Denise Riley

‘Tucked in’ isn’t quite how we’d put it.
We weren’t plumped up neatly in bed.
If you ‘fell’ as one piece you were lucky,
Not dismembered before you were dead. 

We wore dog-tags of vulcanised fibre
But those need their ‘dog’ to stay whole
Or to keep enough bone to be tied on
Not be draped on some tree in a scroll. 

Had we managed to get home living
We’d trouble you worse than the dead.
Shambling, like blind men, among you
And most probably gone in the head.

 So we’ve formed our heavenly choir
Composed of our melded limbs.
Each voices his part in the singing
We can’t disentangle our hymns. 

We get noisy as larks in the sunshine.
Your leg’s with his head over there.
My fist’s stuck upright from a dugout.
It’s clutching a hank of his hair.

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”.  Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally.  Today it has nearly 4000 members worldwide and publishes The Poetry Review.

With innovative education and commissioning programmes and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, the Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages.

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