Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson
A Star Shell exhibited 1916
Oil on canvas
50.8cm x 40.6cm
Christopher James presents his poem, 'A Star Shell', based on Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson's work of the same name. This is currently on display in Tate Modern on Level 5 'States of Flux,' in Room 2.
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A Star Shell
In a moment the world is shattered,
sub-divided into fractions of itself.
We freeze in its mathematics.
The trench floods with rivers of light;
mud quickens into life and the barricades
become the linked arms of children.
All of the universe turns on this point,
a precursor of the final reckoning,
the second before the sun implodes;
a flash of beautiful clarity when God
presents himself, shining on the wasteland:
a tender eye over his razed creation.
It is not the moment after I remember
but the fabric of our tunics, the accent
of light on our helmets, the spots of rust
on our belt brass and the olive green of the
subaltern’s eyes; the star drifts peaceably
to the earth and in an instant – gunfire.