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Farnborough Grammar School

Prospect Avenue, Farnborough, Hampshire

Telephone : Farnborough 539

F.G.S. Italian Trip : 30th July -7th August 1961
Poem written on the return train journey by Clive Strutt
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BLACK FRENCH MAGIC
By Clive Strutt

Black Magic!
Grime  -  Soot  -  Dust,
But passing unnoticed from night-train!
Black French Magic!

The long night-platforms stand somewhat bare;
In a drowsy bunk we hear the hollow voice:
[STATION ANNOUNCER (TONELESS VOICE): “Colmar, Metz, Longuyon, Richwiller,Charleville-Mezieres, Strasbourg.......”
Here are the fancies moulded by Mind’s Will
To desired concrete facts.

Metz –
Tall black station canopy:
Whine of electric motor passing.
“Y Metz, y Metz, y Metz.............”
We start again, and clattering wheels,
Over the dark plains of mystery
We ride on air.

A wayside bell (unforgettable sound)
Descends in pitch as we retreat.
“Longuyon, Metz, Richwiller, Mulhouse ,Strasbourg, Charleville—Mezieres, Lille, Colmar............”
A blue neon light says “COLMAR”.

Beads of wet breath on the window:
Body chilled, acute discomfort (retrospective);
Bunk repose, clumsy tight shoes,
Must be taken off.
Clothes cling somewhat,
Yet all magical adventure.

Scenes of industrial desolation,
Piles of rusty iron,
Piles of rust in Luxembourg.

Returning, the dawn-fires in the furnaces
Are not matched by Aurora’s dawn-fires,
Only by grey, dull blankets.

The silvery, steely giants: eating, consuming, belching.
Grids, grids, and fires,
And a few men.

And deer in the woods!
Oh France!
“Valenciennes, St, Omer, Lille, Armentieres, Thionville, Strasbourg, Charleville-Mezieres, Longuyon, Metz, Colmar, Mulhouse.....”