‘The Darkness and the Thunder and the Rain’

Saturday, 14 November 2015






Bath Poetry Cafe in The Elwin Room, Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute, November 10th 2015



I was thrilled to be part of Bath Poetry Cafe’s performance of selected poetry from 1915 (The Darkness and the Thunder and the Rain) on the eve of Armistice Day. Poems from Edward Thomas, Hamilton Sorley, Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen and Guillaume Apollinaire were amongst those interwoven with narrative and song to tell the story of events in 1916 from local, national and international viewpoints.

It was very special to hear iconic poems like The Soldier ( “If I should die think only this of me….”) and Rudyard Kipling’s If (“If you can keep  your head when all about you are losing theirs….) brought to life superbly by Abel Lawrence and Patrick Shervington (a retired Army Colonel) especially as my father died on 24th October and these were amongst the poems he loved me to read aloud to him. I personally really enjoyed hearing Shirley Wright and Stephanie Boxall reading an extract from The avant grade French poet, Apollinaire’s Wonder of War. To give a flavour of another language portions were read in French and in English from Shirley’s own translation.

The audience were with us from the beginning when they joined in with our rendition of It’s a long way to Tipperary led by the beautiful voice of Abel Lawrence and the powerful poetry held them until the very end of the show when many told us how much the evening had meant to them. Amongst those watching and listening was a local Bath resident Mrs Roma Tomkins who was instrumental in helping script writer and organiser, Sue Boyle tell the story of Somerset Light Infantry’s involvement in The Battle of Loos.

Placed in the spotlight was a new sculpture by local artist Martin Elphick which gave rise to an original poem 16 Million by Ray Fussell and Martin Elphick. Impossible to describe here, 16 Million represents each and every one of the individuals that died in the entire conflict.

Rehearsals for this production took place over only a couple of days yet the company worked together wonderfully, helped and guided by the expert and insightful direction of Zanna Beswick.

Thanks are due to BANES sponsoring this event.

Bath Poetry Cafe is already beginning to research next year’s production, poems from 1916.


Susan Jane Sims, November 2015