Poem by Katharine Mansfield, 1915

November 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Shown me last night by Ted

To L. H. B. (1894-1915)
KATHARINE MANSFIELD

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, (…)”

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