The ‘Walk Between’ of Edward Pols

“Elegy: The Walk Between (July, 1944)”

In 2002, The Massachusetts Review published “Elegy: The Walk Between (July, 1944),” a poem by Edward Pols.  As described in the poem, Pols witnessed the aftermath of the July 3, 1944, bombing at Sloane Court, where, according to the poem, he was stationed.  The following is an excerpt from the poem, which is available online in full from The Massachusetts Review.


In this poem, Edward Pols compares the tranquility of one day at Sloane Court to the chaos that erupts the next day.  He writes of walking through the quiet area, explaining, “At Sloane Court all was tranquil; he stood in the dark till his eyes defined the stair. All the other young men lay still.”  In the second part of the poem, the speaker goes on to describe the difference in atmosphere after the fall of the V-1 bomb.  First, he explains how he learned of what happened:

“…it was full morning

“when a distraught man limped in with the news
from Sloane Court: a direct hit; few had survived.
Now there was transport, but he waved them on

“so he might make once more the walk between,
which had preserved him still with a life to lead
while all those his fellow young men lay still.”

Then, Edward Pols describes the destruction that he witnessed upon arriving at Sloane Court:

“From Turk’s Row he could see all of Sloane Court:
west a shattered house, east none at all—only
a pile of dusty brick where men had died;

“there a rescue team scrabbled to make sure
that no one remained within that heap,
before they went off to deal with the next.

“In Turk’s Row one of our six-by-sixes
waited, piled high with dead open to any view,
till an old Coldstream major who stood by—

“his head held erect by a leather brace—
spoke to the driver, who then dropped the canvas
flap to hide that sight which did no honor

“to young men who just yesterday were quick
and in their grace. When the makeshift hearse—ready
to leave for some unit tasked with the dead—

“came to life and crept through the dazed watchers,
the Coldstreamer moved to solemn attention
and salute; our young man next; then others

“in uniform one by one; and all stayed
so, till riverwards the hidden burden passed
from sight. Each then turned, this small honor paid,

“back to his own living lot that war had cast.”

Biography of Edward Pols

Born in New Jersey, Edward Pols (1919-2005) graduated from Harvard College magna cum laude in 1940 before entering active service in World War II in 1942.  He was stationed in England, France, and Germany and worked for military intelligence.  During his service, he wrote a series of letters home to his wife that formed the basis for poetry he would later publish about his time in the war.  Pols would later receive a doctorate in philosophy from Harvard and teach philosophy at Bowdoin College until his retirement in 1984.  In 2001, Bowdoin named the new building for the Department of Philosophy the Edward Pols House.  Much of Pols’ work was published in The Massachusetts Review.


  • Edward Pols, “Elegy: The Walk Between (July, 1944),” The Massachusetts Review, Spring 2002, pg. 155-8.  The excerpt is available for research purposes only.
  • Barbara Held, “In Memoriam: Edward Pols (1919-2005),” The Review of Metaphysics, Dec. 2005, pg. 493-5.