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Henry Reed

Poem: ‘L’Envoi’

Henry Reed, 12 September 1991

They told him, with reassurance: ‘You must turn over a new leaf.’ Ever submissive and grateful, he did so and then said: ‘Look! This brings me to the last page in the book. And the pages have been so thin I can clearly see The earlier words that a week ago were me.’ He explains this simple fact. And they agree. ‘Then tear the whole sheet out. Why not?’ They...

Poem: ‘Psychological Warfare’

Henry Reed, 21 March 1991

This above all remember: they will be very brave men, And you will be facing them. You must not despise them.

I am, as you know, like all true professional soldiers, A profoundly religious man: the true soldier has to be. And I therefore believe the war will be over by Easter Monday. But I must in fairness state that a number of my brother-officers, No less religious than I, believe it will...

Part and Pasture

Frank Kermode, 5 December 1991

Henry Reed was a sad man but a funny man, and his poems are funny or sad – often, as in the celebrated ‘Lessons of the War’, both at once. I first met him in 1965, in the office...

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