Claire De Lune

I
I should like to imagine
A moonlight in which there would be no machine-guns!

For, it is possible
To come out of a trench or a hut or a tent or a church all in ruins:
To see the black perspective of long avenues
All silent.
The white strips of sky
At the sides, cut by the poplar trunks:
The white strips of sky
Above, diminishing—
The silence and blackness of the avenue
Enclosed by immensities of space
Spreading away
Over No Man's Land....

For a minute...
For ten...
There will be no star shells
But the untroubled stars,
There will be no Very light
But the light of the quiet moon
Like a swan.
And silence....

Then, far away to the right thro' the moonbeams
'Wukka Wukka' will go the machine-guns,
And, far away to the left
“Wukka Wukka”.
And sharply,
Wuk ... Wuk ... and then silence
For a space in the clear of the moon.

II
I should like to imagine
A moonlight in which the machine-guns of trouble
Will be silent....

Do you remember, my dear,
Long ago, on the cliffs, in the moonlight,
Looking over to Flatholme
We sat ... Long ago!...
And the things that you told me...
Little things in the clear of the moon,
The little, sad things of a life....

We shall do it again
Full surely,
Sitting still, looking over at Flatholme.

Then, far away to the right
Shall sound the Machine Guns of trouble
Wukka-wukka!
And, far away to the left, under Flatholme,
Wukka-wuk!...

I wonder, my dear, can you stick it?
As we should say: 'Stick it, the Welch!'
In the dark of the moon,
Going over....

by Ford Madox Ford

Comments (1)

If one thinks of the first few bars of deBussyʻs Claire de Lune while reading Fordʻs poem, the hushed silence of the music flouts the first few lines I should like to imagine .... One asks: why SHOULD you WANT to IMAGINE? For in the second stanza, there is no need to imagine. Ford is ALREADY there. And so are we. And the hushed sense of LISTENING for, or toward, or at....a past, a memory of machine guns (wukka, wukka, wukka) is upon us. Then weʻre back to the Should and the Want and so on. Well, this is better than ON HEAVEN. It is also easier to believe. A dialogue of persons on earth is easier than a dialogue of...heaven....One of Fordʻs biographers wrote that Ford wept when he realized that all of the writers that he had helped become established in the literary world did not trouble to name him as a co-author (or editor?) . He need not have wept. For a fellow Master Editor was Ezra Pound. Pound mentions him repeatedly. Poundʻs acknowledgement is worth gold compared to some of the writers, like Hemingway, for example, that he helped into publication fame. To the Spirit of Ford: Let them go....Your generous spirit is no small honor to us, following after.