New Country: Prose and Poetry by the Authors of New Signatures

New Country: Prose and Poetry by the Authors of New Signatures

New Country: Prose and Poetry by the Authors of New Signatures

New Country: Prose and Poetry by the Authors of New Signatures

Excerpt

To me, "pre-war" means only one sunny market-day at Sturminster Newton, the day I boldly bought a goat for IS. 9d. and then, shelving all transport problems (we lived thirty miles away) and postponing the announcement to my father, went out into the country and, finding a gatepost for a table, cut out from the Express a picture of a dozen Serbian soldiers (we spelt it Servian then) in spotless uniforms, elbow to elbow in a shallow trench, standing exactly like my own toy soldiers, the Royal West Kent Regiment (The Buffs), manufactured by Wm. Britain and Sons Ltd.

But there are others who have even less than a one-and- ninepenny goat for their share of pre-war prosperity; Mr. Plomer is older, but most of the other contributors to this book are younger, than I. Sergeants of our school O.T.C.s, admirers of our elder brothers, we grew up under the shadow of war: we have no memory of pre-war prosperity and a settled Europe. To us, that tale is text-book history: Wolsey, Canute, Disraeli, Balfour. We remember only post-war booms which even we, poets, schoolmasters, engineers, could see were doomed to sharp extinction. Politics isn't, and hasn't been, a real activity in our time. The older generation, remembering the days when an Asquith or a Balfour could still claim to exert some control over the destinies of this country, may think of Baldwin and MacDonald as their natural successors. To us, that control is legendary, the history of a vanished era, the days of a favourable trade-balance and of middle-class security. To-day we have no security. Not that the world is in the grip of the financiers, but simply that it is not in anybody's . . .

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