SILENT HIS WINGS
SILENT HIS WINGS
CORALIE CLARKE REES
'What is precious is never to forget . . ."
— Stephen Spender.
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And to all the silent company oi fine youn^
airmen whose wings have been
furled hy war
To honour her airman brother, sepulchred in distant snows,
Coralie Clarke Rees has here written a moving elegy. Through
her warm portraiture he glows with life again, recreated lovingly.
Idiom and imagery flower colloquially, not as a modernist form,
but simply as a natural self-expression. The realistic treatment
attests the sincerity which makes the varying moods of grief,
protest, and remembrance deepen into passages of forceful poetry.
Always the utterance is most stirring when most personal.
The poem is more, however, than a cry achieving poignance.
It also reaches out, in the old elegiac tradition, to some mode of
life redeeming the sacrifice of youth, transcending the brute fact
of the grave. 'The true disciple of philosophy," said Socrates,
"is ever pursuing death and dying" ; so death in turn begets the
philosopher. Here Coralie Clarke Rees answers death, not by a
Christian immortality or the pantheism of an Adonais, but by a
social reference characteristic of our socialistic age. If the verse
inevitably loses intensity by this difficult theme— difficult to
transmute into poetry— it gains in pragmatic scope. Attacking the
apathy of the common people as a root cause of war, she calls
with crusading impulse for action in the "fight for everlasting
Thus the dirge broadens out into a dedication, affirming the
"the living^ spirit that blows
meaning and purpose and hope through our veins."
Beginning strongly, the elegy ends bravely,
Canberra UmVersity College.
/'. £-6- M^