Sunday 29 June 2014

Poem "For Johnny" written by John Pudney

I was asked by a British Army Veteran if I could possibly trace a WW1 poem about feeding Johnny's children.   I managed to find it yesterday with the kind help of one of my Facebook Friends.  The poem was not in fact written during WW1 but it is almost certainly about a WW1 soldier so I thought I would share the information with you.

"This is almost certainly the poem 'For Johnny' by John Pudney, from his collection of poems 'Dispersal Point' published in 1942. 

The relevant lines read:

'Better by far 
For Johnny-the-bright-star,
To keep your head, 
And see his children fed.' "

from Patrick Villa, 28th June 2014

John Pudney was a British journalist and writer born on 19th January 1909 in Langley Marsh, Berkshire. His parents were Henry William Pudney and Mabel Sleigh Pudney
Pudney was educated at Gresham's School, Holt, Norfolk, where his contemporaries were W.H. Auden and Benjamin Britten.  

Pudney's first published volume of his poems was called "Spring Encounter" and came out in 1933 and brought him into the literary circle of Lady Ottoline Morrell.

During WW2 Pudney was commissioned into the RAF where he worked at the Air Ministry's Creative Writers Unit.  The poem "For Johnny" was written during an air-raid in 1941 and was first published in "The Daily Chronicle" and was featured in the film "The Way to the Stars".  Pudney married the daughter of A.P. Herbert in 1943 and the couple had two children.   "For Johnny" was published in Pudney's collection of poems entitled "Dispersal Point and other Air Poems" published in 1942.   Pudney died on 10th November 1977 so the poem is still officially in copyright however you can read the whole poem here

Many thanks indeed Patrick.