From English Idyll to Living Hell by Rachel Cochrane

A poem set to music, inspired by the death of English pastoral composer George Butterworth, an Officer of the 13th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry, who died in the battle of the Somme 5th August 1916.  This recording formed part of an exhibit for ‘The Somme: Remembrance and Expression’ exhibition at Pod Gallery, Bishop Auckland.

Podcast content

Words by Rachel Cochrane, read by Tom Raine with music by Rosie Cochrane

You took up your pencil

To hang your notes

Upon the wires

As crows perch to prophesy

A death knell

From English Idyll to living hell

You left unfinished songs

An ember in the grate

Took up club and bayonet

Alongside rough hewn mining men

They dug you a trench

Named it in your honour

You wrote to their wives and mothers

The Durham Lads in their hundreds

That will never grow old

Head above the parapet

And as you fall

In Munster Alley

A final refrain

Your fingers twitch

Upon the mud

To play it out

In silence

Officers 13th Btn DLI with George Butterworth circled

Officers 13th Btn DLI March 1915 (George Butterworth circled) Reproduced by permission of the Trustees of the former DLI and Durham County Record Office DRO D/DLI 7/75/26