Home > Uncategorized > Wilfrid Wilson Gibson: Nine O’Clock News

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson: Nine O’Clock News


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

Wilfred Wilson Gibson: Selections on war


Wilfred Wilson Gibson
Nine O’clock News

‘Only just one plane lost” – the suave announcer
broadcasts the news of the successful raid;
and the lone mother knitting by the hearthstone
Trembles, afraid,
As in her anguished sight
In flame a bomber crashes through the night.

‘Only one plane was lost” – just five words spoken
glibly – and through the quiet of the room
she hears them as an iron clangour sounding
the knell of doom,
and sees within the fire
a broken body on a blazing pyre.



Out of the sparkling sea
I drew my tingling body clear, and lay
On a low ledge the livelong summer day,
Basking, and watching lazily
White sails in Falmouth Bay.

My body seemed to burn
Salt in the sun that drenched it through and through,
Till every particle glowed clean and new
And slowly seemed to turn
To lucent amber in a world of blue…

I felt a sudden wrench –
A trickle of warm blood –
And found that I was sprawling in the mud
Among the dead men in the trench.



In each black tile a mimic fire’s aglow,
And in the hearthlight old mahogany,
Ripe with stored sunshine that in Mexico
Poured like gold wine into the living tree
Summer on summer through a century,
Burns like a crater in the heart of night:
And all familiar things in the ingle-light
Glow with a secret strange intensity.

And I remember hidden fires that burst
Suddenly from the midnight while men slept,
Long-smouldering rages in the darkness nursed
That to an instant ravening fury leapt,
And the old terror menacing evermore
A crumbling world with fiery molten core.

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