Strange Hells (1917)

Ivor Gurney

Oxford English Dictionary (OED) Links On

There are strange hells within the minds war made
Not so often, not so humiliating afraid
As one would have expected – the racket and fear guns made.
One hell the Gloucester soldiers they quite put out;
Their first bombardment, when in combined black shout
Of fury, guns aligned, they ducked low their heads
And sang with diaphragms fixed beyond all dreads,
That tin and stretched-wire tinkle, that blither of tune;
“Apres la guerre fini” till hell all had come down,
Twelve-inch, six-inch, and eighteen pounders hammering hell’s thunders.
Where are they now on state-doles, or showing shop patterns
Or walking town to town sore in borrowed tatterns
Or begged. Some civic routine one never learns.
The heart burns – but has to keep out of the face how heart burns.

Learn more about the language of this poem in the
Oxford English Dictionary:

racket  blither  civic