Fathers and Sons (2)

‘As an only child, his main companion though early childhood was his French grandfather. Soon after his father’s return home from military service in 1922, young Douglas switched allegiance and adopted military dress: with metal buttons, puttees and a medal made out of a halfpenny, he patrolled the garden, challenging all who passed. His infatuation with this colourful, ebullient father, so suddenly returned from the wars, seems to have been intense and from that time his obsession for playing soldiers came near to dominating his life.
Domestic accidents followed which, one imagines, encouraged him to rationalise his emotional investments, reducing them, perhaps, if possible, to something that would fit in a kit bag. When Douglas was four, his mother collapsed with encephalitis. This illness dragged on (and recurred throughout Douglas’s adolescence), the faily smallholding business failed, and on borrowed money Keith was sent, at the age of six, to boarding school. Two years later, his father moved away to North Wales and it soon became clear that he was gone for good.’
Ted Hughes, ‘Introduction’ to D. Graham, ed, Keith Douglas: The Complete Poems, OUP, 1987, xvii.
Fathers and Sons (1)


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