Ewart Milne obituary

This note is taken from the Times, 17th January 1987, p22.

Mr Ewart Milne, Irish poet, sailor and farmer died on January 14 at the age of 83.

For a quarter of a century his poetry was underrated and neglected; but more recently it has begun to attract the attention of the discerning, and the best of it will certainly be remembered.

Charles Ewart Milne was born in Dublin on May 25, 1903, and educated at Nuns Cross National School, Wicklow, and Christ Church Cathedral Grammar School, Dublin.

He left school in no mood to be part of the civil strife affecting his country, and in 1920 signed on as a cadet with the elder Dempster Line. He spent much of the next 15 years voyaging all over the world. Once during this period he thought of schoolmastering, but after a year as a student teacher went back to sea in 1925.

He began writing seriously in 1930. He tried his hand at short stories and plays, but came to the view that he was a poet. As he had wanted to escape from the complexities of Irish politics, so, as a poet, he set himself against the Celtic Twilight school which had dominated his youth. And his early efforts appeared in an anthology entitled Goodbye Twilight. Notwithstanding this intention, echoes of early Yeats are detectable occasionally.

In 1935 Milne left the sea and began to be interested in politics. Like most contemporary intellectuals he became a socialist. These convictions took him, in 1936, to Spain where he drove an ambulance for Medical Aid during the civil war.

But his idealism soon suffered a check. He felt the pure core of socialism to be under attack from military and political expediency, and he quarrelled with Auden over what he saw as the latter's cynicism about means and ends.

He continued with his work, though in a spirit of disillusionment and left Spain only when Spanish Medical Aid was wound up after the fall of Barcelona.

He returned to Dublin.His most recent book, Drums without End (1985) was not verse, but a series of recollections of the Spanish Civil War.

<>As he got older he moved away from his commitment to socialism without ever believing in capitalism.

International Brigades - more articles