Keyes, Sidney Arthur

(1922-1943)
   Born in Dartford, Kent, the only child of an army officer, he was brought up mainly by his grandparents after his mother died when he was six weeks old. He pays tribute to his grandfather's influence in "Elegy" and several other poems. An introspective child, he created an imaginary world of his own and by the time he left Tonbridge School he had written more than seventy poems, discovered in a manuscript book shortly after the war. A history scholarship took him to Queen's College, Oxford, in 1940, where he formed a friendship with the poet John HeathStubbs (see entry). With Michael Meyer he edited Eight Oxford Poets (1941). His The Iron Laurel was published in 1942. Commissioned into the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment in September 1942, he was killed in Tunisia seven months later. A posthumous collection of poems, The Cruel Solstice, was published in 1943 and won the Hawthornden prize. Some of his other poems: "Advice for a Journey," "Death and the Plowman," "Europe's Prisoners," "Moonlight Night on the Port," "The Anti-Symbolist," "The Wilderness," "William Wordsworth."
   Sources: A Little Treasury of British Poetry. Oscar Williams, ed. Scribner's, 1951. Collected Poems (Poetry Pleiade) of Sidney Keyes. Carcanet Press, 2002. Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition 1.1. Oxford University Press, 1997. Modern Poetry: American and British. Kimon Friar, and John Malcom Brinnin, ed. Appleton-CenturyCrofts, 1951. Poetry of the World Wars. Michael Foss, ed. Peter Bedrick Books, 1990. The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry. 11th ed. The Columbia Granger's World of Poetry, Columbia University Press, 2005 (http://www.columbia grangers.org). The Oxford Book of War Poetry. Jon Stallworthy, Oxford University Press, 1984. The Oxford Companion to English Literature. 6th edition. Margaret Drabble, ed. Oxford University Press, 2000. The War Poets Association (http://www.warpoets.org/conflicts/ww2/keyes/).

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

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