Page:Some soldier poets.djvu/21

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it passive, disclaiming part and parcel in humanity's tragedy, as though there were any other means of support than man's widespread good will. Men and nations, we all depend for what we are permitted to be on friendliness and co-operation.

The senses both of mind and body are tender, all callousness impairs them. The slaves of machinery, with their real-politik and subserviency to fact, are in all countries striving to stifle liberty, poetry, joy. But kindness is stronger than discipline and courtesy more victorious than munitions.

Since I wrote this a pamphlet[1] has been published with extracts from Julian Grenfell's letters; these strengthen and endorse the impression received from his poem. He was a born fighter: there is a wonderful description of a boxing match he had with a champion at Johannesburg, too long to quote here but very worth reading. After he had been knocked down three times he remarks that his "head was clearing." Yet he can also write:

"I hate material books, centred on whether people are successful. I like books about artists and philosophers and dreamers, anybody who is just a little bit off his dot."

Success in this present world is a little incompatible with real success; one is a trifle beside the mark of the other even when they seem to coincide.

"I longed to be able to say that I liked it, after all that one has heard of being under fire for the first time. But it is beastly. I pretended to myself for a bit that I liked it, but it was no good; it only made me careless and unwatchful and self-absorbed; but when one acknowledged to oneself that it was beastly, one became all right again and cool."

So his head began to clear again just in time.

  1. Julian Grenfell: A Memoir. By Viola Meynell. Burns & Oates. 1s.