Humbert Wolfe

Humbert Wolfe

Humbert Wolfe was born in Milan, Italy, in 1885. When he was a child his family moved to Bradford. After gaining a first at Oxford University he worked for the Civil Service.

Wolfe began publishing poetry in the 1920s and his Requiem (1927) on the First World War was highly acclaimed. On the death of Robert Bridges in 1930, Wolfe was one of the favourites to become Poet Laureate.

On the outbreak of the Second World War Wolfe was one of those responsible for drawing up a list of writers who could better serve as propagandists than in the British Army.

Humbert Wolfe died in 1940.

Primary Sources

(1) Humbert Wolfe, Requiem: The Soldier (1916)

Down some cold field in a world outspoken

the young men are walking together, slim and tall,

and though they laugh to one another, silence is not broken;

there is no sound however clear they call.

They are speaking together of what they loved in vain here,

but the air is too thin to carry the things they say.

They were young and golden, but they came on pain here,

and their youth is age now, their gold is grey.

Yet their hearts are not changed, and they cry to one another,

'What have they done with the lives we laid aside?

Are they young with our youth, gold with our gold, my brother?

Do they smile in the face of death, because we died?'

Down some cold field in a world uncharted

the young seek each other with questioning eyes.

They question each other, the young, the golden hearted,

of the world that they were robbed of in their quiet paradise.