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7 March 2009
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Fenton poem

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James Fenton's poem

We spoke, we chose to speak of war and strife –
a task a fine ambition sought –
and some might say, who shared our work, our life:
that praise was dearly bought.

Drivers, interpreters, these were our friends.
These we loved. These we were trusted by.
The shocked hand wipes the blood across the lens.
The lens looks to the sky.

Most died by mischance. Some seemed honour-bound
to take the lonely, peerless track
conceiving danger as a testing ground
to which they must go back

till the tongue fell silent and they crossed
beyond the realm of time and fear.
Death waved them through the checkpoint. They were lost.
All have their story here.

James Fenton



James Fenton was born in Lincoln in 1949 and educated at Magdalen College, Oxford. He has worked as political journalist, war correspondent, foreign correspondent and columnist, drama critic and book reviewer. A collection of his pieces on major events in the Far East entitled All the Wrong Places was published in 1990.  Other volumes of poetry include Terminal Moraine, The Memory of War and Children in Exile and Out of Danger. His work has won him the Southern Arts Literature Award for Poetry, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and the Whitbread Award for Poetry. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was Oxford Professor of Poetry for the period 1994-99.




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