Poem by Katharine Mansfield, 1915
November 10, 2013 § Leave a comment
Shown me last night by Ted
To L. H. B. (1894-1915)
Last night for the first time since you were dead
I walked with you, my brother, in a dream.
We were at home again beside the stream
Fringed with tall berry bushes, white and red.
‘Don’t touch them: they are poisonous,’ I said.
But your hand hovered, and I saw a beam
Of orange bright laughter flying round your head
And as you stooped I saw the berries gleam –
‘Don’t you remember? We called them Dead Man’s Bread!’
I woke and heard the wind moan and roar
Of the dark water tumbling on the shore.
Where – where is the path of my dream for my eager feet?
By the remembered stream my brother stands
Waiting for me with berries in his hands . . .
‘These are my body. Sister, take and eat.’
From The 20th Century in Poetry, ed. Michael Hulse and Simon Rae, where this poem is published:
“Mansfield’s sonnet was written in memory of her brother, Leslie Heron Beauchamp, killed in action near Armentières in France on 7 October 1915 while serving in the South Lancashire Regiment. ‘I never see anything that I like, or hear anything, without the longing that he should see and hear, too,’ she wrote in a letter of 19 November, (…)”