When a Beau goes in,
Into the drink,
It makes you think,
Because, you see, they always sink
But nobody says “Poor lad”
Or goes about looking sad
Because, you see, it’s war,
It’s the unalterable law.

Although it’s perfectly certain
The pilot’s gone for a Burton
And the observer too
It’s nothing to do with you
And if they both should go
To a land where falls no rain nor hail nor driven snow —
Here, there, or anywhere,
Do you suppose they care?

You shouldn’t cry
Or say a prayer or sigh.
In the cold sea, in the dark
It isn’t a lark
But it isn’t Original Sin —
It’s just a Beau going in.


After Owen and his focus on the dissonance between the ideals of war and the experience of war, something that is simply detached, owning no feelings at all: this difference between the First and Second World Wars is well noted in Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory. The eponymous Beau is not an airman of dreadful glamour, although surely that association is intended to add to the richness, but a Bristol Beaufighter aeroplane.

[Read in The Great Way and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell, published by Oxford University Press. Ripped from]


I fall into every trap
they set for me –
mantrap, mousetrap, birdlime.

Every time
I take the bait –
the worm, the cheese, whatever.

I pluck the wire
that shifts the lever
that springs the teeth.

Then, in the calm before death,
I flatter myself
I’d seen it all a mile off.

I even manage a small laugh.

[Read in Sky Nails: Poems 1979-1997, published by Faber & Faber.]


As she laughed I was aware of becoming involved in her laughter and being part of it, until her teeth were only accidental stars with a talent for squad-drill. I was drawn in by short gasps, inhaled at each momentary recovery, lost finally in the dark caverns of her throat, bruised by the ripple of unseen muscles. An elderly waiter with trembling hands was hurriedly spreading a pink and white checked cloth over the rusty green iron table, saying: “If the lady and gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden, if the lady and gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden …” I decided that if the shaking of her breasts could be stopped, some of the fragments of the afternoon might be collected, and I concentrated my attention with careful subtlety to this end.

[Read in Collected Poems 1909-1962, published by Faber & Faber. Ripped from]

Talking in bed ought to be easiest,
Lying together there goes back so far,
An emblem of two people being honest.

Yet more and more time passes silently.
Outside, the wind’s incomplete unrest
Builds and disperses clouds about the sky,

And dark towns heap up on the horizon.
None of this cares for us. Nothing shows why
At this unique distance from isolation

It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind,
Or not untrue and not unkind.

[Read in Collected Poems by Philip Larkin, ripped from]