I’ve been reading Angela Thirkell’s Cheerfulness Breaks In which is set during WWII & it made me think about Virginia Graham’s collection of poetry published by Persephone some years ago. This poem, Final Gesture, brings to mind the indomitable middle & upper-class ladies of Thirkell’s novel. With Remembrance Day only a few weeks away, I have quite a few books about both World Wars lined up to read, so there may be more Home Front poetry to come.
No, dear, I will not eat in the scullery!
I will go down with my colours flying,
and the dining-room table shall be laid
with silver, bright and satisfying,
and glass and fruit and lemonade,.
Though I be denied butter and butcher-meat,
and though there is no coal in the grate,
I will eat what I am allowed to eat
in pre-war dignity and state.
Not until I absolutely must
will I huddle in one room with all my relations,
relegating my furniture to decay and dust
and other such dilapidations.
My house shall be wide open as the air,
till it actually crumbles about my head;
and I shall sit in my sitting-room in a chair,
and sleep in my bedroom in a bed.
I cannot see why I should make life harder,
or indeed how it helps our Cause at all,
to spend the night on a camp-bed in the larder
and write letters in the servants’ hall.
Till I am broke, which granted may be soon,
I will sometimes buy a gramophone record or a plant in a pot,
and I will not drink soup from a kitchen spoon,
no, really, dearest, I will not!