Great news that Simon Armitage is the new poet Laureate. He wrote a beautiful poem for Edie as part of the BBC programme, The Great War – An Elegy, back in 2014. You can see Edie’s great nephew, Dick Robinson, reading the poem on the beach at Etretat in France where Edie served in WW1 here. It starts about 2 minutes 30 seconds in.
Here’s the poem:
Sea Sketch by Simon Armitage
Dear Mother, I have come to the sea
to wash my eyes in its purples, blues, indigos, greens,
to enter its world and emerge cleansed,
to break the surface then watch the surface heal and mend.
Behind me the land lies mauled and wrenched,
but I have not flinched from uncommon holes in the flesh of men
or heads oozing with shattered minds,
and have not shied from livers and lungs exposed to the light,
and have balanced and carried faltering hearts in my cupped hands
through the egg and spoon race of death and life.
Some men I kissed: boy soldiers – raving and blind – begging for love from a mother’s lips,
and when death stands with its black shawl at the foot of the bed
a white cotton handkerchief eases the soul…
So allow me the beach, the sea, its handwritten waves,
the act of making a simple sketch of a simple ketch,
or stick figures plunging into the depths,
or a cormorant bearing it breast to the sun,
or at dusk, Venus robed in her wedding dress,
her silver train like a path on the water heading west.