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Published on Mar 9, 2011
Heres a virtual movie of the tragic brilliant composer and poet Ivor Gurney from Gloucestershire England reading his celebrated world war one poem "The Silent One" Written between 1919 - 1922 and Published in his collection of poems "Severn and Somme" Ivor Gurney managed to physicaly survive the horrors of WW1, but returned home a shattered man who was never to recover from the mental wounds he recieved and was to spend much of the remainder of his life in mental hospitals . Ivor Bertie Gurney (28 August 1890 - 26 December 1937) was an English composer and war poet. the son of a tailor,he was born in Gloucester on 28th August, 1890. Gurney was educated at King's School, Gloucester as a chorister and he won an open scholarship to the Royal College of Music in 1911. Gurney showed considerable talent as a composer and poet but in May 1913 he was diagnosed as suffering from dyspepsia and was sent home to Gloucester to recuperate. However, it is now accepted that he had a nervous breakdown and was the first sign of bipolar illness. On the outbreak of the First World War, Gurney volunteered for the Gloucester regiment. He was initially turned down because of his defective eyesight, but as the British Army was short of men, was allowed to join in 1915. After training at Salisbury he was sent to Riez Bailleul on the Western Front in May 1916. Three months later he was transferred to Albert during the Somme offensive. On 7th April 1917, Gurney was shot in the army and sent to the army hospital at Rouen. The following month he rejoined his regiment at Arras. In July 1917 Gurney was transferred to the 184 Machine Gun Company and was moved to Buysscheure and joined the forces preparing for the offensive at Passchendaele. Gurney was gassed at St. Julien on 10th September 1917. He was sent to Edinburgh War Hospital and while recovering a collection of his war poems, Severn and Somme, appeared in November 1917. After the war Gurney spent time in the Newcastle General Hospital, Lord Derby's War Hospital in Warrington and the Middlesex War Hospital in St. Albans. Gurney was finally discharged from hospital and the army on 4th October 1918. Gurney's second book of poems, War's Embers was published in May 1919. However he was unable to make a living from his writing and over the next three years worked as a farm labourer, as a pianist in a cinema and as a clerk in the Gloucester Tax Office. Gurney suffered from a severe manic depressive illness and after several failed attempts at suicide was sent to a mental asylum in Gloucester. On 28th September 1922, Gurney was certified insane and was transferred to the City of London Mental Hospital at Dartford. He continued to write poetry and his work was published in the London Mercury. Ivor Gurney died of bilateral pulmonary tuberculosis at the City of London Mental Hospital on 26th December, 1937. Five days later he was buried at Twigworth, Gloucestershire. Kind Regards Jim Clark All rights are reserved on this video recording copyright Jim Clark 2010 The Silent One Who died on the wires, and hung there, one of two - Who for his hours of life had chattered through Infinite lovely chatter of Bucks accent: Yet faced unbroken wires; stepped over, and went A noble fool, faithful to his stripes - and ended. But I weak, hungry, and willing only for the chance Of line - to fight in the line, lay down under unbroken Wires, and saw the flashes and kept unshaken, Till the politest voice - a finicking accent, said: "Do you think you might crawl through, there: there's a hole" Darkness, shot at: I smiled, as politely replied - "I'm afraid not, Sir." There was no hole no way to be seen Nothing but chance of death, after tearing of clothes Kept flat, and watched the darkness, hearing bullets whizzing - And thought of music - and swore deep heart's deep oaths (Polite to God) and retreated and came on again, Again retreated - and a second time faced the screen