Dresden bombing remembrance

Last week I saw a BBC interview with a British war veteran. What follows is the poem that came out (after my tears).  This is a specular poem, ie. the two verses mirror each other. I first came across this form in Julia Copus’ poem, ‘The Back Seat of My Mother’s Car’, which is in the Bloodaxe anthology, ‘Staying Alive’. (I cannot recommend this anthology highly enough to anyone who enjoys poetry or is writing it). Julia Copus apparently claims to have invented this form. However, she was born in 1969, and a specular poem, ‘Doppelganger’, by James Lindon, appeared in 1967.  When I saw Julia Copus’ poem, I could not imagine I would ever write one myself. In any case, I do not know if the form even suits my poem. It was a sudden inspiration, partly because I felt that the words needed to be repeated somehow, and obviously I couldn’t just repeat the words already written, in the same order. I am open to any feedback/comments on whether the form works for my poem.

Dresden 1945

His name is Victor.                                                              Dresden bombed street
He was a prisoner
in Dresden in 1945
when the bombs fell.
Incendiary bombs fell, but not like rain.
The city caught fire.
People burned to death
in their homes, in the streets.
Human beings exploded in the streets.
He was a soldier of many battles,
familiar with death.
He needed forty years of silence and pain,
before he could begin to talk.
He can never forgive
those who ordered the bombing,                                      corpse in Dresden street
though he was on their side.

Though he was on their side,                                 those who ordered the bombing
he can never forgive.
Before he could begin to talk,
he needed forty years of silence and pain.
Familiar with death,
he was a soldier of many battles.
Human beings exploded in the streets.
In their homes, in the streets
people burned to death.
The city caught fire.
Incendiary bombs fell, but not like rain.                   burned corpse Dresden
When the bombs fell
in Dresden in 1945
he was a prisoner.
His name is Victor.
© David Urwin 2015




About jadedmountain

I am a poet, living a rural life in south-west Wales. The purpose of this blog is to publicise my poetry.
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4 Responses to Dresden bombing remembrance

  1. Annie Butler says:

    A deeply moving poem . Listened to an account of the raid recently on BBCRadio 4 by a survivor who was aged 14 at the time. She clung to a lamp post with her back on fire and watched others being sucked into the flames. How does one live with such memories ?
    Well done David for writing this, I would not be strong enough.


  2. Franca says:

    This poem written in the specular way really works and strengthens the dramaticity of the event. In most ways I find the first part is “stronger” than the second one, but together they make a well balanced union. I’ ve already read something specular times ago in the Cellar Bards site and it’s quite an unusual way of expression. Where did you get those terrible pics of corpses? The next time we expect something less dramatic and more joyful. Cheers


  3. thanks for your poem Dave – thinking of an old friend who survived Dresden and who is no longer with us. the horrors never left him.


  4. Vivien Boyes says:

    A friend’s father was in Hamburg when it was fire-bombed. We do terrible thing in the name of war and your poem is a chilling reminder of the ordinary people who have to live with these memories.


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