Alexander Wilson’s second son, Dennis B Wilson was an officer in the Black Watch during the bloody Normandy campaign after D-Day during the Second World War.
He received life-changing injuries from blasts of artillery shrapnel on 1st July 1944 and left the army with the rank of honorary Captain.
Dennis is an accomplished and highly acclaimed poet and his iconic ‘Elegy of a Common Soldier’ is one of the most significant poems written during combat and on the front line during that conflict.
Dennis will be celebrating his 98th birthday this June.
His services to English literature and poetry have been recognised by being a guest of honour at the Queen’s reception for Contemporary Poetry at Buckingham Palace in 2013, and an Honorary Fellowship from Southampton University.
Elegy of a Common Soldier and other poems was a bestselling poetry title on its publication in 2012.
There are 126 poems in the collection including Elegy.
They are not all devoted to the subject of war.
They capture the poetic spirit of the time such as ‘To A Girl In A Railway Station’ which was written at the end of May 1944 very shortly before Dennis was sent to France:
So proud her graceful bearing,
So confident her stride;
I verily would give my all
To saunter by her side:
From whence she comes, or whither rides,
These things I do not know;
But would that I could go with her,
That I might tell her so.
Thus Providence may, now and then,
Bedeck this Earthly plot
With such a glimpse of Paradise,
To charm our wearing lot:
But stay ! There comes this bitter thought
To pierce me like a knife:
Some grunting train will rumble by
And take her from my life !
The Volume can be ordered exclusively online from Blurb books for £19.99, or from The Word Independent bookshop in the New Cross Road in South East London where it is available for the special price of £14.99.
Elegy of a Common Soldier is described as:
The reflections of an ordinary soldier, of any nationality, temporarily withdrawn from the front line to an area of comparative peace, in any of the wars to which unwilling Mankind has been subjected by the ambitions, greed, or stupidity of his rulers.
Some of Elegy was written in pencil in the slit trenches of the Normandy campaign:
For not too far upon this pleasant world
The scene is changed: upon a sombre stage,
The sharpest weapons Man can forge are hurl’d
Against his fellow men, in bitter rage.
Dennis has had five volumes of his poems published.
One of the most elegant books is HaughtyCulture or the Gardening Muse with beautifully illustrated gardening images by the photographic artist Marja Giejgo.
In over a hundred rhyming poems, Dennis explores the joys and whimsies of tending his flowerbeds.