‘Goodbye’ is among those poems collected in Ha! Ha! Among the Trumpets, published posthumously, in 1945. Ha! Ha! Among the Trumpets is subtitled Poems in Transit, and in ‘Goodbye’, the idea of transit – of passing away or passing through –encapsulates the lovers’ sense of betweenness and of being out of place. The poem evokes a moment in which, as a narrator of one of Lewis’s short stories puts it, ‘[n]one of us are ourselves now…neither what we were, nor what we will be’.The poem’s title implies that its speaker is already moving off – but to where? His destination remains a mystery. Death, transition, ‘uncertain progression’, then, are some of the central concerns captured by the title. But the word ‘Goodbye’ also has an informal simplicity that belies the seriousness of the poem’s subject-matter. It establishes the colloquial, interpersonal tone that suffuses this poem like the glow from a lamp. The speaker’s restrained informality and use of understatement hints at an experience and a depth of feeling that remains inarticulable.
The visual form of this poem on the page, like the title, is relatively simple. Short, regularly arranged stanzas reflect an attempt on the part of the writer to clarify and come to terms with a newly complex world. The poem’s arrangement in quatrains and regular ABCB rhyme scheme aligns it with the ballad form. The ballad has its origins in folk culture, and is traditionally used for storytelling. This poem, too, tells a story of sorts. Rather like Lewis’s short stories, it speaks of his aim to ‘[make] live ordinary life’ through a form that is ‘simple, lucid, broad’.
Yet this poem does not use the conventional four-stress, three-stress metre of the ballad. Rather, its rhythms follow the modulations and patterns of the speaking voice – a technique borrowed from poets such as Edward Thomas. This conveys a feeling of naturalness and intimacy – qualities that, in Lewis’s view, were threatened by the mechanised, dehumanised conditions of modern warfare.
 Alun Lewis, Collected Stories, ed. Cary Archard (Bridgend: Seren, 1991), p. 169. From the story ‘They Came’, the last story in The Last Inspection (1942; the book appeared in 1943).
 Alun Lewis, quoted in Pikoulis, Alun Lewis, p. 80.