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The Magpie Sings the Great Depression:
Selections from DeWitt Clinton High School's Literary Magazine, 1929-1942

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Not England

By Richard Avedon

The Magpie, January 1941, v. 25, n. 1, p. 34.

Lines written in despair over the death of a friend, and the future of humanity.
October, 1940

I shall not speak of England—
English countryside or English towns
Or how the sprites of Autumn came this year
In bright, burning gowns,
And found a greater fire there.

Nor shall I speak of London
As a place
Of beauty, formed beyond compare,
Of grace,
Of English charm.

My words are for a thing
That can not be replaced.

A year ago an English friend of mine
Knelt at Brighton Beach and traced,
With thin fingers, a profile—
Then, standing, laughed at it,
And he was happy in the sun,
And he was one
Of many English friends of mine—
And there were many English friends of mine,
. . . There were.

These are the words I write.
This is the twisted song I sing
Till I am hoarse with it.
These are the words that wring
My every dream into a nightmare . . .

"There was a boy.
A friend of mine.
There was a boy."
Beaten on my brain,
"There was a boy."

No, no, I can not mourn that England's churches
Have been burnt away,
Or England's charm, or England's years of grace.

I can not turn but what I see the face,
With clear eyes and a blond head,
Of an English boy I knew.
The boy is dead.

The Magpie Sings the Great Depression

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