Ivor Gurney

Gurney’s short-lived life is filled with sadness. An accomplished poet and musician he set many of his own works to music including poems by Rupert Brooke and Edmund Blunden. He enlisted in the military in 1915, sustained wounds, was gassed, and then discharged. However, the war never left him. He was tormented with the thought that it was still going on until his death in 1937. The best of Gurney’s war poetry is contained in two anthologies: Severn and Somme and War’s Embers. His two most popular poems are “The Silent One,” and “To His Love.”


“To His Love”

He's gone, and all our plans
Are useless indeed.
We'll walk no more on Cotswold
Where the sheep feed
Quietly and take no heed.
His body that was so quick
Is not as you
Knew it, on Severn river
Under the blue
Driving our small boat through.
You would not know him now...
But still he died
Nobly, so cover him over
With violets of pride
Purple from Severn side.
Cover him, cover him soon!
And with thick-set
Masses of memoried flowers-
Hide that red wet
Thing I must somehow forget 
 

Reflective Questions: “To His Love”
 
  1. Who seems to be the voice speaking this poem?
  2. What meaning does the “red wet” have in this work?
  3. What is the spirit of the man that is described in this poem?
  4. How will the man be remembered?