The poetry appreciation group’s topic for April was “Morning” and we read a very varied and original selection of poems. We would love to share them all with the wider U3A membership, but we have chosen this one. It is by Tony Harrison, who was born in Leeds in 1937 and it expresses his memories of VJ Day – the end of the war.
From Sonnets for 1945 by Tony Harrison
THE MORNING AFTER
The fire left to itself might smoulder weeks.
Phone cables melt. Paint peels from back gates.
Kitchen windows crack; the whole street reeks
of horsehair blazing. Still it celebrates.
Though people weep, their tears dry from the heat.
Faces flush with flame, beer, sheer relief
and such a sense of celebration in our street
for me it still means joy though banked with grief.
And that, now clouded, sense of public joy
with war-worn adults wild in their loud fling
has never come again since as a boy
I saw Leeds people dance and heard them sing.
There’s still that dark, scorched circle on the road.
The morning after kids like me helped spray
hissing upholstery spring wire that still glowed
and cobbles boiling with black gas tar for VJ.