Two poems addressed to Adolf Hitler by Lord Dunsany, [Edward Drax Plunkett].

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HITLER, DUNSANY and the ‘RED DEAN’

DUNSANY, LORD [Edward Drax Plunkett] Two poems addressed to Adolf Hitler, probably written circa 1940, original manuscripts in his flamboyant hand, probably unpublished. The poems with a manuscript covering note signed ‘D.’, on his addressed notepaper, from Dunstall Priory in England, addressed to ‘Dear Hale’. Both poems are written on fine quality laid paper watermarked ‘Eynsford’.

In the first poem, ‘Over the Fragments’, eight lines, signed ‘D.’, Dunsany addresses Hitler directly. ‘Hitler, you had the curious luck to hold / Germany’s civilisation in your hand / If not all Europe’s, like a vase of old / Made by rare craftsmen in an ancient land. / That were an honour of enormous worth / ... But what a pity that you let it drop!’ The second is a curious poem headed ‘One Day at Doorn’, three stanzas of four lines, the page headed ‘To Wish You a Happy Christmas’, with coloured drawings of holly, signed ‘Dunsany’. ‘Doorn’ evidently refers to Doorn Manor in the Netherlands near Utrecht, a large country house where the deposed German Emperor Wilhelm II lived in exile after World War I, from 1920 until his death in 1941.

Dunsany’s poem is spoken in the persona of Wilhelm, addressing another deposed German leader [i.e. Hitler] who has come to Doorn as a servant. ‘Well! Well! You’ve come! You’ll find the work here light: / No ceremonial, we live simply here / .. I shall expect you always to be neat / And keep things tidy. Breakfast is at 9. / We lunch at 1; at half past 12 you eat. / Then you bring tea at 5. At 8 we dine. / My royal sons may sometimes come to call / I’m sure they will not trouble you at all. / You merely lay an extra place or more / And by the way, why DID you make that war?’

Needless to say, Hitler never came to Doorn Manor. After the Second World War, the house was taken over by the Dutch Government and is now a museum. A strange pair of poems, possibly written circa 1940. The covering note to ‘Hale’ thanks him for a letter. ‘It will hearten me when the Dean counterattacks, unless he suffers me with Christian resignation or Russian patience’ (a reference to the ‘Red Dean’ of Canterbury, Hewlett Johnson, a supporter of the Soviet Union during World War II, whom Dunsany had evidently criticised).

Dunsany (1878-1957) was a prolific writer, whose output included plays, short stories, science fiction and verse. He had homes in England and Ireland. Perhaps his greatest service to literature was his encouragement of the young Meath poet Francis Ledwidge in the years before the First World War.

[L4BC1 Black File 1921]

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