War Poetry

Austin Threlfall Nankivell (1884-1942) was Poole’s Medical Officer of Health between 1914 – 1921.  He was called up in 1915 and became a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps until 1918, when he returned to his post in Poole.

He published articles and a book during the war, about trench fever and hygiene for soldiers.  He also penned a war poem:


SURELY the Keeper of the House of Death
Had long grown weary of letting in the old—
Of welcoming the aged, the short of breath,
Sad spirits, duller than their tales oft-told.
He must have longed to gather in the gold
Of shining youth to deck his dreary spaces—
To hear no more old wail and sorrowing.
And now he has his wish, and the young faces
Are crowding in: and laughter fills Death’s places;
And all his courts are gay with flowers of Spring.


Taken from A treasury of war poetry, British and American poems of the world war, 1914-1919

by George Herbert Clarke, 1917

Thanks to Poole’s Health Record for the information.

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