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This report is taken from PN Review 226, Volume 42 Number 2, November - December 2015.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams
All day it has rained, and we on the edge of the moors
Have sprawled in our bell-tents, moody and dull as boors,
Groundsheets and blankets spread on the muddy ground
[ …]
And we stretched out, unbuttoning our braces,
Smoking a Woodbine, darning dirty socks,
Reading the Sunday papers – I saw a fox
And mentioned it in a note I scribbled home; –
And we talked of girls, and dropping bombs on Rome,
And thought of the quiet dead and the loud celebrities
Exhorting us to slaughter, and the herded refugees ...

Early in my first university year at Aberystwyth I heard someone read the poem of which these are the opening lines and soon after made my way to the upper gallery second-hand section of Galloway’s bookshop in Pier Street and found Raiders’ Dawn, the first of two books of poems by Alun Lewis, the second, Ha! Ha! Among the Trumpets, published posthumously. It is easy to understand why ‘All day it has rained’ caught my attention. In 1952 there were fellow students who had served in the war. One, David Pritchard, later professor of Education at Swansea, who had been promoted major at the crossing of the Rhine, became a good friend and led a quartet of us on an adventure in France and Spain in the summer of 1954. But it wasn’t just that the poem was about the war that won my attention, it was the register, somewhere between the familiar ...


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