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Chance Memory

Derwenthorpe Book Clubs present:

Chance Memory: The Story of a York War Poet by Professor Sue Mendus 

In 1927, the author Ernest Raymond wrote of a poem called From Steyning to the Ring, ‘it is simple and perfect … unrivalled in our war literature’. The poem was (apparently) written in the trenches of the Western Front in 1916, and it has become one of the most famous and well-loved of all the many poems of the Great War. And yet, for over half a century, the identity of the poet was unknown. This talk explains the mystery surrounding the authorship of the poem, and tells how that mystery was finally solved.

 From Steyning to the Ring 

I can’t forget the lane that goes from Steyning to the Ring
In summertime, and on the Down how larks and linnets sing
High in the sun. The wind comes off the sea, and Oh! The air!
I never knew till now that life in old days was so fair
But now I know it in this filthy rat-infested ditch,
When every shell must kill or spare, and God alone knows which,
And I am made a beast of prey, and this trench is my lair
My God! I never knew till now that those days were so fair.
And we assault in half an hour, and it’s a silly thing:
I can’t forget the lane that goes from Steyning to the Ring.

Philip Johnson

If you would like to attend this talk, please contact and you will be provided with the link to the Zoom meeting, along with a further sample of the poems.

Sue Mendus is Professor Emerita of Political Philosophy at the University of York, and lives in Osbaldwick.

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