After Adlestrop

I wrote this poem about the poet Edward Thomas who joined the Artists Rifles in 1915 and was killed at the Battle of Arras in 1917. I was inspired by an autobiographical extract written by his wife, Helen Thomas, that Sebastian Faulks included in his book ‘A Broken World – Letters, Diaries and Memories of the Great War.’


After Adlestrop
i.m. Edward Thomas

You did not have to join the great departed

but felt the pull of the road not taken,

that track through mud and broken rock,

over grown with weeds taller than your children.

Your son who shared your love of maps,

abandoned railway stations. You were a man

who paused in love, whose bird call

echoed over the mountain, and she ran

to catch your name that final night

you both knew you’d never be home again.


Sketch for Spring In The Trenches

A sonnet inspired by Paul Nash


Sketch for Spring In The Trenches
Watercolour, Chalk, Ink, Paul Nash
by Aoife Mannix

The trees are grown hungry and broken bones
snap summer’s love as you write your swan song
on canvas dipped in mocking blue tones
that say God has no leaves to hide this wrong.
It is the waste of blooming red blood lips
that haunts the trenches’ gash across the earth.
The wound still deep, still raw as stripped wood,
in paper torment of what life is worth.
Yet this landscape questions feather fodder
with its white guns that blaze under black fire
as if you’re paint, hardly worth the bother
of searching for your soul caught on the wire.
Your buttons small seeds in a Flanders field
sprout green with dreams that we can still be healed.

The Mine Crater, Hill 60, Ypres Salient, 1917

The following poem was inspired by Paul Nash’s lithograph at the Gosport Gallery


The Mine Crater, Hill 60, Ypres Salient, 1917
Lithograph, Paul Nash
by Aoife Mannix

You could lose yourself

in the folds of earth.

The way their mouths open up,

shadows on the verge of speaking.

The water reflecting

a world of sudden mountains.

Mud as malleable as flesh.

The open wound that bleeds

such dark spaces, a battle

going neither forwards nor backwards

but deep down into gravity itself,

where the numbers

only add up to zero.

An apocalypse explosion,

a gap in time, a grave

as silent as the rain.



Armistice Day Drop In Session

Tuesday 11th November, 11am to 1pm

Gosport Gallery (just across from the Discovery Centre)
Walpole Road, Gosport PO12 1NS
Tel: 0845 603 5631

A poignant day to visit the Artist Rifles exhibitions in Gosport Gallery.  Writer in Residence Aoife Mannix will be there to collect your responses and memories. Have you got a story about World War One? Did members of your family fight in the trenches? If so, she would love to hear from you.

Shot At Dawn

The following poem was inspired by a visitor to the exhibition telling me how moved he was by visiting the Shot At Dawn memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire 

Shot At Dawn – sculptor, Andy De Comyn

by Aoife Mannix 

Picking your way through the forest,

you suddenly see him standing there.

A wooden hole in his wooden heart.

All badges stripped away, his name

refused for the memorials.

You hold your breath in the eerie quiet

of that morning when the blindfold

was tightened, when he found himself

betrayed by the shell shock of his fellow inmates,

the lunacy of so little forgiveness.

A boy in a clearing, more alone

than even the Flanders trees.

No hope of green, just grey rain,

a slit of sunlight, a shot ringing out,

its echo in your ears.


Writing Consultations

Friday 14 November: 6 sessions: 1-1.30pm  1.30-2pm  2-2.30pm  2.30-3pm  3-3.30pm  3.30-4pm at Gosport Discovery Centre

One to One discussion, advice and critique of your poetry or prose.

A unique, free opportunity to get tuition, advice and critique on a sample of your writing from Gosport Gallery’s Writer in Residence, Aoife Mannix, in these half hour bookable sessions.

These sessions must be booked in advance by emailing .  They will take place at Gosport Discovery Centre.

Please email including a Word document with a sample of four poems or 500 words from a short story or novel in progress which will form the basis for the session – thank you.  Please be assured this writing will only be shared with Aoife and not be passed on to any other third party.

You will then be emailed whether you have been successful and the time slot allocated. 

Rain Lake Zillebeke

The following poem was inspired by Paul Nash’s Rain, Lake Zillebeke


Rain, Lake Zillibeke – Lithograph, Paul Nash

By Aoife Mannix

The rain is as relentless

as pencil strokes streaked

across paper. This light

without colour falling into

a world of slanted trees.

Their barks peeled of love letters,

their broken mouths that say

I loved her more than

all the words in the world.


Their faces are lost to you

because they will never again

be whistling boys waiting

for Christmas but just paper cuts

so deep they touch the bones

of those still missing out there

in the black mud, in the grey coffins

of a landscape beyond art,

in the sketches of a spring

that never came.