War Poetry

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1940 - 1946

In April 1940 Edmund wrote to the Times to deplore plans to bomb German cities, fearing for the inevitable killing and wounding of civilians. As a result, Annie's home in Tonbridge was raided by the police who took all Sylva's letters to Edmund, and returned to the house to go through all Edmund's books. Edmund told the Warden of Merton that he had already written to his old Commanding Officer, [Col. Harrison in Undertones of War] to offer his services, and soon found himself in uniform again as an officer in the University's Officers Training Corps.

Blunden was not interested in politics but was vehemently opposed to war. He refused to be drawn into the politics of pacifism. His refusal to politically engage in the late 1930's led to him being labelled a Nazi and subsequently, in the 1950s, a communist, following his visit to China, shortly after the end of the Korean war. His belief in the fundamental goodness of the ordinary man and the need to avoid war at all costs, consistently led him to being politically misunderstood, particularly during the tumultuous events of the 1930s. He used his writing, public speaking and visits to Germany in an ambassadorial attempt to influence opinion against any recurrence of the 1914-18 conflagration. This was emphatically not a political voice but one that believed in bringing nations together by talking to each other and building strong human ties. He was convinced that were his battle-weary generation in positions of power, war would naturally be averted. He was devastated when it became clear that lessons from the tragedy of the Great War were being ignored and in many cases trodden upon.

Having secured his divorce from Sylva Edmund married Claire in Tonbridge on 29 May 1945. Later that year, he rejoined the Times Literary Supplement as an assistant editor, and his daughter Margaret was born in 1946. Once again the international stage beckoned and he was invited to take up professorships in China and Korea, but he settled on a role as cultural adviser to the United Kingdom liaison mission to Japan. At last, Edmund was in a position to follow his belief that literature could heal wounds between peoples where politics could not.

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