Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Meandering And Melancholy

 I used to know where all my books were. Now I haven't a clue. If it isn't a book I've consulted in the past few weeks it could be in any of nine bookcases in any of six rooms. When we moved down here I just stuck books wherever there was space because I saw it as a temporary arrangement. Temporary has now stretched to close on five years....

When we move again I must create some sort of a system...

I was looking for the Collected Poems of Sidney Keyes because Milein Cosman has died and he was in love with her when they were both kids in Oxford in the early years of the war. There's a poem he wrote for her that begins "I'd have you brave as rich brocade/ Or such a sight as Venus made/ Extravagantly stepping from a shell. I wanted to revisit it but the book's in hiding and- well- I seem to have the best lines in my head already. It's a poem that begins strongly and then sort of peters out- becoming ragged at the end- like the Bayeux tapestry- which- artistic failure or not- makes it all the more touching. 

Cosman went on to become an important graphic artist- specialising in sketches of classical musicians in performance. She sketched Stravinsky, Rostropovitch, Britten- just about everybody who was important in her era. She married the writer Hans Keller and was a mate of Iris Murdoch's. She was 96 when she died.

There's no-one around now with meaningful memories of the Great War and the same will very soon be true of the Second World War. I don't accept the idea that the young people of the 1940s were "the greatest generation" but the fact is they went through an experience of total war that no-one born since then  has had (thankfully) and that makes them sort of special...

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