3. Childhood Beliefs
Edmund Blunden (1896 – 1974) was no conventional war poet. In making these settings I have been particularly concerned to underline his essential gentleness. That is not to pretend that there is no darkness: the first poem depicts a bleak war-torn landscape, yet the mood is one of nobility rather than bitterness. The central part is a dance of death, in which the poem’s imagery paints an objective picture of war. A short interlude for strings and harp introduces the final part, not explicitly a war poem, but one where a pastoral childhood landscape gradually merges into something like nightmare. I have tempered the awesome vision of Blunden’s final stanza by returning to the mood of the beginning, and a murmured memory of the heart-breakingly beautiful fourth verse.
Blunden’s (prose) memoirs were called Undertones of War, and in calling this work Aftertones I wanted both to evoke his world, and to suggest an echo from the not so distant past. Aftertones is dedicated to Martyn Brabbins and to the Huddersfield Choral Society.