Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THEN AND NOW, by CECIL DAY LEWIS



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THEN AND NOW, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Do you remember those mornings after the blitzes
Last Line: Make real, of glory, common wealth, and home.
Alternate Author Name(s): Blake, Nicolas
Subject(s): Factories; Labor & Laborers; Labor Unions; Memory; News; Strikes; Surrey, England; Unemployment; Work; Workers; Labor Disputes; Lockouts


Do you remember those mornings after the blitzes
When the living picked themselves up and went on living—
Living, not on the past, but with an exhilaration
Of purpose, a new neighbourliness of danger?

Such days are here again. Not the bansheeing
Of sirens and the beat of terrible wings
Approaching under a glassy moon. Your enemies
Are nearer home yet, nibbling at Britain's nerve.

Be as you were then, tough and gentle islanders—
Steel in the fibre, charity in the veins—
When few stood on their dignity or lines of demarcation,
And few sat back in the padded cells of profit.

Boiler-room, board-room, backroom boys, we all
Joined hearts to make a life-line through the storm.
No haggling about overtime when the heavy-rescue squads
Dug for dear life under the smouldering ruins.

The young cannot remember this. But they
Are graced with that old selflessness. They see
What's needed; they strip off dismay and dickering,
Eager to rescue our dear life's buried promise.

To work then, islanders, as men and women
Members one of another, looking beyond
Mean rules and rivalries towards the dream you could
Make real, of glory, common wealth, and home.





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