Friday, December 21, 2007

Mustn't grumble!

I know I've done not too well in the exam, but perhaps not badly enough. I think I may be able to stay! The person in charge gave the Delphic verdict: "Don't worry". Could be read both ways.

In these (slightly) trying times, one thinks of people who had much more trying times. In the trenches in the First World War, for example. A while ago, I heard about and then managed to purchase a little book called "The Spirit of Man". It is an anthology compiled in 1915 by the then Poet Laureate of poetry (mostly) and some prose. The book was intended for the spiritual needs of the troops, but I'd guess it was mostly read by the officer-class. One imagines a copy of it arriving in the parcel of cocoa, biscuits and pipe-tobacco, sent up by the family from the sad shires. My own copy was printed in 1940, so never saw action in the First War, although the Second is a possibility. The cover is a bit grubby and worn. I like to think that it was in the pocket of some captain leading tanks into action in the desert. During pauses, his crew would get the tea going, and he'd smoke a pipe (Player's Medium Navy Cut) and read a poem or two. The book had a long review in 1915 in the NY Times, which you can read here.

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