Deep Under Turfy Grass by David Breeze & Outrider Anthems

New contemporary song setting by local composer David Breeze, for Wilfred Owen’s Dunsden poem Deep Under Turfy Grass.

Written at Dunsden between October 1912 and June 1913 after Wilfred Owen assisted at the funerals of Alice Mary Allen and her four year old daughter Hilda Agnes who died in an accident on Dunsden Green.

With film by Jennifer Leach of Outrider Anthems.

Deep under turfy grass and heavy clay
Deep under turfy grass and heavy clay
They laid her bruisèd body, and the child
Poor victims of a swift mischance were they,
Adown Death’s trapdoor suddenly beguiled.
I, weeping not, as others, but heart-wild,
Affirmed to Heaven that even Love’s fierce flame
Must fail beneath the chill of this cold shame.
So I rebelled, scorning and mocking such
As had the ignorant callousness to wed
On altar steps long frozen by the touch
Of stretcher after stretcher of our dead.
Love’s blindness is too terrible, I said;
I will go counsel men, and show what bin
The harvest of their homes is gathered in.
But as I spoke, came many children nigh,
Hurrying lightly o’er the village green;
Methought too lightly, for they came to spy
Into their playmate’s bed terrene.
They clustered round; some wondered what might mean
Rich-odoured flowers so whelmed in fetid earth;
While some Death’s riddle guessed ere that of Birth.
And there stood one Child with them, whose pale brows
Wore beauty like our mother Eve’s; whom seeing,
I could not choose but undo all my vows,
And cry that it were well that human Being
And Birth and Death should be, just for the freeing
Of one such face from Chaos’ murky womb,
For Hell’s reprieve is worth not this one bloom.

See the Wilfred Owen Association’s site for an analysis of the poem.

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