War Hero

By Glyn Maxwell b. 1962 Glyn Maxwell
Where recollections end,
        step finally from the land
and into the white before like the masked birdman,
a boy is bound to appear:
        growing, hurrying here
over the hot dry grass towards his grandad.

He, who fought on the Somme,
        wanted to see the same
storm damage, down the road on a meadow,
as did this boy of five.
        The sky all blue above.
Was there a storm? morning enquiring. Never.

I caught him up on the road.
        ‘Look at the oak,’ he said,
and sure enough it was peeled to the root by lightning
we’d both seen. Its scar
        was fierce white. Nowhere
could we see the bark tracked clean off with a fork.

He wouldn’t touch the sore.
        ‘Reckon it’s hot there.’
Anything else he reckoned or said about it
he carried onto his flight
        climbing, level in sunlight,
to Lancashire summers beyond the hideous river.

Glyn Maxwell, “War Hero” from The Boys at Twilight: Poems 1990-1995. Copyright © 2000 by Glyn Maxwell. Reprinted by permission of Glyn Maxwell.

Source: The Boys at Twilight: Poems 1990-1995 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000)

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Poet Glyn Maxwell b. 1962


Subjects Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Glyn  Maxwell


Born in England to Welsh parents, Glyn Maxwell was educated at Oxford University and Boston University, where he studied both poetry and theater with Derek Walcott. This simultaneous training in two disciplines has enabled him to create innovative work across genres. Maxwell has written numerous verse plays as well as long narrative poems. The Sugar Mile (2005), a verse narrative set in a Manhattan bar a few days before . . .

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SUBJECT Social Commentaries, War & Conflict


Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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