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Peace

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

In low chalk hills the great King's body lay,
And bright streams fell, tinkling like polished tin,
As though they carried off his armoury,
And spread it glinting through his wide domain.
 
Old bearded soldiers sat and gazed dim-eyed
At the strange brightness flowing under trees,
And saw his sword flashing in ancient battles,
And drank, and swore, and trembled helplessly.
 
And bright-haired maidens dipped their cold white arms,
And drew them glittering colder, whiter, still;
The sky sparkled like the dead King's blue eye
Upon the sentries that were dead as trees.
 
His shining shield lay in an old grey town,
And white swans sailed so still and dreamfully,
They seemed the thoughts of those white, peaceful hills
Mirrored that day within his glazing eyes.
 
And in the square the pale cool butter sold,
Cropped from the daisies sprinkled on the downs,
And old wives cried their wares, like queer day owls,
Piercing the old men's sad and foolish dreams.
 
And Time flowed on till all the realm forgot
The great King lying in the low chalk hills;
Only the busy water dripping through
His hard white bones knew of him lying there.
 
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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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