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Ford Madox Ford: three poems from the author of The Good Soldier

Much of his poetry is based on his experiences as a soldier during World War I

  • In Tenebris
  • All within is warm, 
  • Here without it’s very cold, 
  • Now the year is grown so old 
  • And the dead leaves swarm.
  • In your heart is light,
  • Here without it’s very dark,
  • When shall I hear the lark?
  • When see aright?
  • Oh, for a moment’s space! 
  • Draw the clinging curtains wide 
  • Whilst I wait and yearn outside 
  • Let the light fall on my face.
  • That Exploit of Yours
  • I meet with two soldiers sometimes here in Hell 
  • The one, with a tear on the seat of his red pantaloons 
  • Was stuck by a pitchfork, 
  • Climbing a wall to steal apples.
  • The second has a seeming silver helmet, 
  • Having died from a fall from his horse on some tram-lines 
  • In Dortmund.
  • These two 
  • Meeting in the vaulted and vaporous caverns of Hell 
  • Exclaim always in identical tones: 
  • “I at least have done my duty to Society and the Fatherland!” 
  • It is strange how the cliché prevails... 
  • For I will bet my hat that you sent me here to Hell 
  • Are saying the selfsame words at this very moment 
  • Concerning that exploit of yours.
  • There Shall Be More Joy…
  • The little angels of Heaven
  • Each wear a long white dress,
  • And in the tall arcadings
  • Play ball and play at chess;
  • With never a soil on their garments,
  • Not a sigh the whole day long,
  • Not a bitter note in their pleasure,
  • Not a bitter note in their song.
  • But they shall know keener pleasure, 
  • And they shall know joy more rare— 
  • Keener, keener pleasure 
  • When you, my dear, come there. 
  • . . . . . 
  • The little angels of Heaven 
  • Each wear a long white gown, 
  • And they lean over the ramparts 
  • Waiting and looking down.
Ford Madox Ford

For Madox Ford (1873-1939) was an English novelist and poet who also wrote criticism and edited two prominent literary journals, The English Review and The Transatlantic Review, both of which were considered flagship publications for promoting Modernist poetry and fiction. Among the writers who first appeared in their pages were the novelists Henry James and Joseph Conrad. While Ford is better known for his novels, especially The Good Soldier (1915)—which is considered one of the greatest novels of the 20th century—he also composed his fair share of poetry (both formal and free verse), much of it based on his experiences as a soldier during World War I.

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A tongue-in-cheek response to Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.”
  • In Tenebris
  • All within is warm, 
  • Here without it’s very cold, 
  • Now the year is grown so old 
  • And the dead leaves swarm.
  • In your heart is light,
  • Here without it’s very dark,
  • When shall I hear the lark?
  • When see aright?
  • Oh, for a moment’s space! 
  • Draw the clinging curtains wide 
  • Whilst I wait and yearn outside 
  • Let the light fall on my face.
  • That Exploit of Yours
  • I meet with two soldiers sometimes here in Hell 
  • The one, with a tear on the seat of his red pantaloons 
  • Was stuck by a pitchfork, 
  • Climbing a wall to steal apples.
  • The second has a seeming silver helmet, 
  • Having died from a fall from his horse on some tram-lines 
  • In Dortmund.
  • These two 
  • Meeting in the vaulted and vaporous caverns of Hell 
  • Exclaim always in identical tones: 
  • “I at least have done my duty to Society and the Fatherland!” 
  • It is strange how the cliché prevails... 
  • For I will bet my hat that you sent me here to Hell 
  • Are saying the selfsame words at this very moment 
  • Concerning that exploit of yours.
  • There Shall Be More Joy…
  • The little angels of Heaven
  • Each wear a long white dress,
  • And in the tall arcadings
  • Play ball and play at chess;
  • With never a soil on their garments,
  • Not a sigh the whole day long,
  • Not a bitter note in their pleasure,
  • Not a bitter note in their song.
  • But they shall know keener pleasure, 
  • And they shall know joy more rare— 
  • Keener, keener pleasure 
  • When you, my dear, come there. 
  • . . . . . 
  • The little angels of Heaven 
  • Each wear a long white gown, 
  • And they lean over the ramparts 
  • Waiting and looking down.
Ford Madox Ford

For Madox Ford (1873-1939) was an English novelist and poet who also wrote criticism and edited two prominent literary journals, The English Review and The Transatlantic Review, both of which were considered flagship publications for promoting Modernist poetry and fiction. Among the writers who first appeared in their pages were the novelists Henry James and Joseph Conrad. While Ford is better known for his novels, especially The Good Soldier (1915)—which is considered one of the greatest novels of the 20th century—he also composed his fair share of poetry (both formal and free verse), much of it based on his experiences as a soldier during World War I.

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