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Consider the Years

by Virginia Graham
Persephone book no:

21 22 23

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The Far Cry
A Well Full of Leaves
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ISBN 9781903155110

The author of these wise and witty poems, written between 1938 and 1946, was Joyce Grenfell's closest friend, and there are many similarities in their writing; Anne Harvey has observed in her Preface: 'She has been likened to Ogden Nash but is far closer to John Betjeman.' The poems, many of which first appeared in Punch, span and highlight the war years; not all are about the war, but each conveys irony, wisdom, humour, realism and a superb eye for detail.

My thoughts are centred now on strange concerns.
No longer do I find my spirit yearns
To talk of theatres, or art, or books,
Or love affairs, or other people's cooks.
Dead as the dust of ancient dreams they lie,
And cannot comfort me, or edify.

But should you speak to me of bones, or tins,
Or swill for pigs, or sanitary bins,
My heart will leap to yours and in my eyes
The lust for aluminium will rise.
Ah me! A year ago I talked of Rome,
and Beatrice Lillie and the Hippodrome,

And roses and the Rhine and fruited trees
As yet unplundered by evacuees.
I did not seek a restless bed afraid
I had forgotten to inform Miss Wade

That through some misdemeanour unforeseen
Some forty cups were gone from the canteen...


The endpaper is taken from a 1943 printed rayon crêpe dress fabric derived from a series of propaganda posters by 'Fougasse', 'Careless Talk Costs Lives', published by the Ministry of Information in February 1940.

Picture Caption

'Section Officer Austen, WAAF Meteorologist', 1944 by Evelyn Dunbar © RAF Museum

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Categories: Poetry Social Comedy WWII

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