Norman Nicholson "On the Perimeter and Fringe of War"

The latest talk in the University of Cumbria's Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas (CNPPA) was about Norman Nicholson and his experience and poetry during the Second World War.

Dr Andrew Frayn from Edinburgh Napier gave this interesting talk, with close readings of some of Nicholson's poetry. The title of the talk comes from Nicholson's work Waiting for Spring, 1943 and as Frayn says "enables us to see the multiple ways that the traces of war in his poetry have previously gone unrecognised, and continue to recuperate Nicholson's political consciousness..."

Norman Nicholson's health prevented him from participating as a combatant in the War and both this, and his physical dislocation from the War, gave him an unusual view of the conflict. 

The title of the talk is taken from Nicholson's poem Waiting for Spring 1943 and is from the first collection published in 1944: Five Rivers.

So also we
On the perimeter and fringe of war,
Open to the sunlight and the wind from the western sea,
Wounded y the knife of winter, still
Feel the bright blood rise to bear
White and daring blossoms, fledged before
The seabirds leave the ploughland or the snows leaves the fell....

Many of the poems in Five Rivers make reference to the War, and how Nicholson experiences this far off conflict. Some of the imagery used in the poems is quite violent as in the poems Rockferns and Bombing Practice, and reminds us of the impact of  war, even in far flung regions.

A very interesting talk which offers an alternative reading of Nicholson as a poet of nature.