Armistice Day: Remember all the good you can

Resurrection of the Soldiers by Stanley Spencer

To Margot Heinemann by John Cornford

Heart of the heartless world,
Dear heart, the thought of you
Is the pain at my side,
The shadow that chills my view.

The wind rises in the evening,
Reminds that autumn's near.
I am afraid to lose you,
I am afraid of my fear.

On the last mile to Huesca,
The last fence for our pride,
Think so kindly, dear, that I
Sense you at my side.

And if bad luck should lay my strength
Into the shallow grave,
Remember all the good you can;
Don't forget my love.


John Cornford (the son of the poet Frances Cornford) volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War as part of the International Brigade. He died in Spain the day after his 21st birthday, in 1936. His lover Margot Heinemann lived on until 1992, a politically active teacher and writer. They were both Communists.

The artist Stanley Spencer served in the Medical Corps during the First World War. This picture is from a series he did for the Sandham Memorial Chapel in Berkshire. It is the centrepiece: The Resurrection of the Soldiers. Normally the pictures can only be seen by visiting the chapel, but they have just gone on display in London at Somerset House, and will be there for three months.

For a long time this image was used as the cover of the Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse, the one edited by Philip Larkin.


  1. Moira - What a lovely way to remember Armistice Day. I love the poem, and that 'photo is moving. So hard to believe that next year it will be 100 year ago that the Great War started...

    1. Thanks Margot: it's one of my favourite poems (I've only just realized it's your name too...) and I am lucky enough to live close to the chapel where the pictures live normally - they are extraordinary.

  2. The poem is so sad, I cannot think of much else to say about it. My father served in World War II but he lived a long life. I lost no one to war. But it appalling how many people have lost loved ones.

    1. Yes, there isn't much to say is there Tracy, in the face of the horrors of war. I'm glad your father made it.

  3. John was my partner's uncle and Margot's daughter Jane is assisting me with a project to find John Cornford's missing remains in Spain. Please come check out John Cornford Page and Finding John Cornford Group to see more about the latest in the epic romance saga of John Margot.

    1. Thank you for commenting - I will certainly visit those pages. I would love to find out more about this most affecting story.


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