To the Other Children
To the Other Children
A poem by Claud Lovat Fraser, with an introduction by Jane Audas
Lovat Fraser's poem was written in 1916, in the trenches at Ypres, just weeks before its author received the injuries that would send him back to England, and, eventually, kill him. Yet it is just the sort of verse that rarely finds its way into anthologies of war poetry. There is no hint of regret, not enough misery, and, above all, no mud. Lovat Fraser did not do mud. What he gives us instead was a glimpse of a future where soldier's footsteps are retraced by children at play, where the horrors of war are mitigated, even justified by children. During the whole of his all too brief life, Lovat remained a child at heart. One of the few books he took with him to France was an 18th-century chapbook of songs, a talisman to remind him, perhaps, why he was there.
We have set the book in Verona from Stephenson Blake and printed it on Magnani Broadlaid with ink from Hawthorn Printmakers Supplies. The line blocks were made by PLG Repro from sometimes difficult originals. The book is sewn into a vivid blue card with an oversized title lable pasted on. As always, this twenty-fourth New Year Booklet lightens the twelve days of Christmas with a 'Spirit of Joy'. (continued below)
Lovat Fraser had joined the army as soon as he was able in 1914. He was commissioned as an acting Captain in the Durham Light Infantry, his first engagement being the Battle of Loos in 1915. He fought at Armentières and, eventually at Ypres. Shortly after this poem was written, Lovat Fraser was invalided home after being gassed then buried alive by a shell explosion. He was suffering from shell-shock as well as damaged lungs. He spent the rest of the war at office jobs while in and out of hospital.
We remember Lovat Fraser today not as a poet, although he has a small body of light verse, but as an artist. He loved art from a young age, sketching, illustrating nursery rhymes and designing toy theatre productions for his family. As a young man before the war, he, Ralph Hodgson and Holbrook Jackson began the innovative 'Flying Fame' series of chapbooks and broadsheets. After the war he continued to follow his talent as an illustrator, leading eventually to toy design, advertising, and costume and stage sets for the theatre. His friends and colleagues included the poets Ralph Hodgson and James Stephens, wood engraver and stage designer Gordon Craig, artists and illustrators Paul Nash and Albert Rutherston, publicists and printers Joseph Thorp and Harold Curwen. His sketchbook was always with him--friends called it 'Lovat's knitting' because he was invariably turning out his distinctive black pen drawings which looked back to the 18th century for inspiration. Once colour was added (and what colour it was!) his work was sometimes criticised as being 'too modern' and futuristic', but it didn't stop it from being popular. Joseph Thorp was running a prototype 'design agency' and was an efficient agent. His work was seen on Curwen Press productions from patterned papers to advertising leaflets, his work for Heal's, Eno's Fruit Salts, and Mac Fisheries set a new tone for advertisement. His biggest success was undoubtedly his sets and costumes for Nigel Playfair's production of the Beggar's Opera in 1921.
Although he continued to work, his lungs remained weak. While on a family holiday to Dymchurch in Kent 1n the summer of 1921, he took ill, and died after an operation on June 18th. His name is inscribed on the War Memorial in Buntingford, his family home.