|Ivor Bertie Gurney is buried in the churchyard of
St. Matthew's Church, Twigworth, Gloucestershire,
Gurney was born in Gloucester and won a
scholarship to the Royal School of
Music in 1911. But his studies were interrupted by the First
World War - where he served for two years in the
Gloucestershire Regiment as a private. During his time
at the front he was wounded and gassed.
Ivor Gurney's Grave
He published two volumes of war poetry: Severn and
Somme (1917) and War's Embers (1919). Many of
the poems deal with the horrors of the trenches - but
there are also nostalgic evocations of his home county.
influence of Gerard Manley Hopkins
and Thomas Hardy can be seen in
His work also exhibits clear signs of mental
instability and it is likely that he suffered from
bi-polar disease from an early age. After being demobbed, he had various jobs
and also spent time sleeping rough. However, he became
increasingly unsettled and was eventually committed to
the City of London Mental Hospital in Dartford. He
spent the rest of his life in care.
In spite of his
mental health problems he continued to write poetry and to compose
music through-out his life. He wrote scores to accompany
the work of both Edward
Thomas and A.E. Housman.
He also set a number of his own poems to music - the
best known being Severn Meadows.
In 1954, Edmund Blunden
published a posthumous collection of his poems and
interest in Gurney's
work has been growing ever since.
Philip Larkin chose the poem Strange Hells to
include in his selection of 20th Century English Verse.
The poem ends with the moving line: 'The heart burns -
but has to keep out of face how heart burns.'