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An exceedingly pacifist poet

Kipling poem - written after his son was killed in the trenches of the First World War - is read out at anti-war ceremony in Tavistock Square

10 August, 2017 — By John Gulliver

A.L. Kennedy and Catherine West on Sunday

RUDYARD Kipling – pacifist, ban-the-bomber! Never, I can hear certain readers say as they draw in their breath.

But, if so, they never knew the full nature of the great poet.

Fortunately, the canny writer A.L. Kennedy rescued his reputation at an anti-war ceremony in Tavistock Square, Holborn, on Sunday where she read out one of his poems written later in life after his son was killed in the trenches in the First World War. This is the first stanza in his A Dead Statesman:

I could not dig: I dared not rob: / Therefore I lied to please the mob. / Now all my lies are proved untrue / And I must face the men I slew. / What tale shall serve me here among / Mine angry and defrauded young?

Imperialistic? Yes. Jingoistic? Yes. But then came the cold hand of reality.

I saw veteran CNDer Bruce Kent, 88, who said that he was off to Southampton to address a meeting that evening.

“What does you wife think – off again!” I said.

“Yes, she said this is the last time I’m going to do that.” He laughed – a loud laugh, and I recalled how I used to love ringing him when he was a priest, a Monsignor, at St Aloysius church in Somers Town. His good humour would bounce down the line.

My picture shows A.L. Kennedy and Catherine West, Hornsey and Wood Green MP, and ex-leader of Islington Council, a Quaker and enthusiastic CND supporter, and an MP who publicly differs from her leader, Jeremy Corbyn, over the EU debacle. She wants a single market and membership of the customs tariff.

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