I’ve written a lot here about other people’s war poems, so when one of my own is published, I might as well post it here too, even though the war is not the Great one that I usually write about.
The Spectator sets a literary challenge each week. This time it asked us to imagine a collaboration between two poets. So I speculated what would have resulted if John Betjeman had helped out Tennyson when writing The Charge of the Light Brigade:
Steel from Sheffield, hearts from Woking
Take the valley like a storm.
Last night they drank champagne and brandy;
Last year they bullied in the dorm.
Half a league and half a league more,
Though the air is thick as cake
With cannonballs instead of currants.
Surely there is some mistake?
Six hundred soldiers ask no questions;
Smoke and terror parch their throats.
Mr Russell of the Times
Is very busy making notes.
That night the colonel writes a letter;
It will make the whole world lurch.
The family will place a simple
Tablet in St Leonard’s Church.