Poetry about the Coventry Blitz

In Memoriam - Ernest Willn

(Killed in the Fire Service, 1941)

Poem written by John W Sherwood and kindly supplied for publication by Caroline Heritage.

You heard nothing of the Peace
After your hard struggle to survive.
When they found you still smiling,
But no longer alive.

Before the last darkness but one
You gave your all for a friend
Made in God's image and therefore
All bonds of nature in a moment end.

But still your Spirit will rise,
With magic stillness there,
And joy far superior than earth,
Abounds in our Saviour's care.

Only the other day at work
An ex-fireman whispered your name,
And told how they found you there,
Buried in the heat and flame.

If there is a star for every soul,
Your star with radiance will shine
And even when you are hidden in sleep,
Paradise will be divine.


by John J.Rattigan, November 1940

Who can forget that night of death,
Wrought by the sky devil's fiery breath,
Who can forget that night of pain,
Dealt out by a madman's twisted brain.

We shall not forget as our homes we rebuild,
On bomb-scarred ground where innocent were killed,
We shall not forget as we look at the land,
Where once stood a building so stately and grand.

Even God's house is not safe from this Hun,
Who bombs and destroys at the setting of the sun.
So let him send over his cowardly hordes,
Who shatter the homes of paupers and Lords.

That night was severe, there is no doubt,
We had a hard blow, but they can't knock us out.
For our men are of steel, our women won't kneel,
Nor children for mercy plea.
A new hope will arise, when the world is free,
From the rubble and ashes of Coventry.

Modern English War Poetry by Tim Kendall

Tim Kendall's study offers the fullest account to date of a tradition of modern English war poetry. Stretching from the Boer War to the present day, it focuses on many of the twentieth-century's finest poets - combatants and non-combatants alike - and considers how they address the ethical challenges of making art out of violence.

Poetry, we are often told, makes nothing happen. But war makes poetry happen: the war poet cannot regret, and must exalt at, even the most appalling experiences.

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