Heart of the heartless world

Today’s poet, John Cornford, wrote this poem just a couple of weeks before he was killed fighting in the Spanish Civil War, round about his 21st birthday. Is it fair to add additional meaning, pathos, sense of tragedy to the poem because we know this, but the poet didn’t when he wrote it? I think it is, because he knew he was putting himself in harm’s way and could die at any time. This is a poem written in the teeth of death, written to express his love which remains strong in his mind.
Heart of the heartless world,
Dear heart, the thought of you
Is the pain at my side,
The shadow that chills my view.
The wind rises in the evening,
Reminds that autumn is near.
I am afraid to lose you,
I am afraid of my fear.
On the last mile to Huesca,
The last fence for our pride,
Think so kindly, dear, that I
Sense you at my side.
And if bad luck should lay my strength
Into the shallow grave,
Remember all the good you can;
Don’t forget my love.

From <http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2010/oct/25/poem-of-the-week-john-cornford&gt;

Cornford was from a privileged background, highly educated, one of the elite, a 1%erof his time. Yet he chose to go off and fight for freedom and democracy and pay the ultimate price at a very young age. This is incredibly sad and tragic.

The poem uses simple language to describe the poet’s anguish at the prospect of dying while so much in love, so much so that the thought of his love brings additional pain and sorrow. The repetition of “I am afraid” on lines 7 and 8 shows this emotion and gives it additional depth.

Here is yet another insight on the horrors and uselessness of war.

The Poetry Dude


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