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This poem is taken from PN Review 176, Volume 33 Number 6, July - August 2007.

A Civil War Peter Scupham

for Roger Scupham

In the 1880s two related academic German families were invited to take up positions in Cambridge: the Braunholtzes and the Breuls. Eugen Braunholtz, Fellow of King's, Reader in Romance Languages, had four sons, who were educated in British public schools and served with the British Forces in the Great War. Hermann Braunholtz, my father-in-law, later Keeper of the Ethnographical Collections at the British Museum, served in the ranks of the RAMC on the Western Front. This sequence, drawing on family records and his diaries, was occasioned by the meeting of the last combatant survivors, Henry Allingham and Robert Meier, at Wetten, Germany, in November 2006.

I Wildstrubel, 1913

He watched two Germans gather alpenrosen, singing,
as a shaft of sunlight travelled from forest to snow.
Clouded avalanches shook the slopes above him.

Saw further snows that 'rode across the sky
like surf grizzling the rock-entangled sea,
the turbid river, snow-born, nourished by the sun'.

Climbed piled zig-zags to the Wildstrubel Hotel:
pretty done in, managed to fight his way
through a verandah packed with cheering schoolgirls.

Picked roses, left them behind, went on

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