When a Beau goes in, by Gavin Ewart

13 April 2014


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 http://www.johnderbyshire.com/Readings/beau.html.]


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