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Kent In War

Walter J. Turner 1884 (South Melbourne) – 1946 (Hammersmith)



The pebbly brook is cold to-night,
Its water soft as air,
A clear, cold, crystal-bodied wind
Shadowless and bare,
Leaping and running in this world
Where dark-horned cattle stare:
 
Where dark-horned cattle stare, hoof-firm
On the dark pavements of the sky,
And trees are mummies swathed in sleep
And small dark hills crowd wearily;
Soft multitudes of snow-grey clouds
Without a sound march by.
 
Down at the bottom of the road
I smell the woody damp
Of that cold spirit in the grass,
And leave my hill-top camp -
Its long gun pointing in the sky -
And take the Moon for lamp.
 
I stop beside the bright cold glint
Of that thin spirit in the grass,
So gay it is, so innocent!
I watch its sparkling footsteps pass
Lightly from smooth round stone to stone,
Hid in the dew-hung grass.
 
My lamp shines in the globes of dew,
And leaps into that crystal wind
Running along the shaken grass
To each dark hole that it can find -
The crystal wind, the Moon my lamp,
Have vanished in a wood that's blind.
 
High lies my small, my shadowy camp,
Crowded about by small dark hills;
With sudden small white flowers the sky
Above the woods' dark greenness fills;
And hosts of dark-browed, muttering trees
In trance the white Moon stills.
 
I move among their tall grey forms,
A thin moon-glimmering, wandering Ghost,
Who takes his lantern through the world
In search of life that he has lost,
While watching by that long lean gun
Up on his small hill post.
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Submitted on August 03, 2020

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Walter J. Turner

Walter James Redfern Turner was an Australian-born, English-domiciled writer and critic. Born in South Melbourne, the son of a church musician – organist at St Paul's Cathedral – and a warehouseman, Walter James Turner, and a woman of long golden hair, Alice May, he was educated at Carlton State School, Scotch College and the Working Men's College. In 1907 he left for England to pursue a career in writing. There he met and befriended a number of literary intellectual figures, including Siegfried Sassoon, Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville-West, and Lady Ottoline Morrell. On 5 April 1918, in Chelsea, he married Delphine Marguerite Dubuis. During the period from the First World War until the mid-1930s, he was known primarily as a poet. His 1916 'Romance' is probably the best remembered of his poems. W. B. Yeats had the highest praise for Turner's poetry, saying that it left him "lost in admiration and astonishment", and included some of it in his Oxford Book of Modern Poetry. But today, although Turner produced several novels and plays, as well as books of poems, his reputation rests on his musical biographies of Mozart, Beethoven and Berlioz. He was musically untrained, and in the words of the music critic Charles Reid, "unhampered by any excess of technical knowledge" to restrain his "racy dogmatism." His Mozart in has been reprinted many times in the 70 years since it was first published. Some of his musical articles for the New Statesman and other journals were reprinted in Music and Life, Facing the Music, Musical Meanderings, and Variations on the theme of Music. more…

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