The surface of your writing, like the surface of Loch Ness

6. The surface of your writing, like the surface of Loch Ness,
Reflects with studied innocence the radiant summer sky,
And sometimes, as the critics and the fisherfolk profess,
There breaks the undulation of a black bulk rippling by.

We place the pretty legend by the creatures that we know —
The dolphin, as it were, the water-serpent and the whale;
But the silent stir comes swelling from that cavern far below
Where the monster coils in comfort, swishing gently with his tail.

[I had this already, but undated]

This must have had some connection with Jocelyn or it couldn’t have been included in the readings at his funeral. It may have been what she called a rare showing to a student whose poetry she had criticized when he showed it .. just to show she ‘knew how to go on’. Or it may have been meant to show him that she saw through his affectations, that he was hiding talents to impress her when he chose to show those.

7. Thank God for themselvesness,
The sheer unpredicted
Distinct and defiant
Otherness of them !

Though mortally subject to bent , circumstance and stress ,
They stand once and for all determined by contingent choice ;
Themselves in their scope the uttermost fruits of free-will ,
And they a set of souls responsible for them.

Thank God for themselvesness , then :
But this , and merely the flow , is insufficient .
Strolling the path beyond the churchyard , I
Eat over-ripe strawberries and hurl their leaves through the railings .


The funeral collection makes no change in this . It expresses Marion’s consistent insistence on our all being accountable, for belief as well as action , and that no excuse is possible whether mental illness or nervous disability. According to Jocelyn’s father, Jocelyn did at the last join the Roman church. For Marion, the sticking point would remain, in Papal Infallibility.

But this I thought was gone with a fresher year

Another invented character in an invented situation.

I received this on 4 October 1955. For the funeral, Marion removed the original character’s declaration of a passion, and asked only for time, to prepare to find out what claims of lifelong constancy might be worth

5. But this I thought was gone with a fresher year—
The lift of heart when gesture and glance and word
Laughter and touch of the hand or turn of the head
Seem suddenly more than their meaning, expected , apart,
As music soon to be loved but now first heard
Is well and perfect and strange to the silent heart.
Perceptions are graced by your life as beads by a thread,
Dear for themselves, for their linking doubly dear.

Yet now great words that confident once I said
Crash hollow like coals where sleepers wake with a start:
Since coin and pebble the well of my dreaming stirred
I watch the dissolving image of joy or fear,
Ring upon ring, while I feel no glory, no smart:
I have seen the cost of your being and being dead,
And even as air accepts the wings of a bird
I can offer you only the now and only the here.

10 September 1958


Without Jocelyn’s authorial initials, there is a second copy as the inner wrapper of the funeral file’s poems. Perhaps it is just a lengthy way of saying Never, including the last line.
If so, I don’t know what is thus banned It is rather an elaborate ‘Goodbye’, for the work of a very ill man



I have already copied this as a poem given to me on November 30th 1953, ‘Where
haws along bedraggled hedgerows burn’

It was published in the parish magazine of St Matthews church, Newport, December
1986. That was after Jocelyn died, but showing her plans to him some months before may have encouraged him to think she would join his last-minute accession to the Roman church. If so, then her ‘Themselvesness’ was her answer.
Perhaps Jocelyn had read ADVENT then and appreciated it. There are two verbal alterations from the 1953 version, and some added punctuation … enough to justify her early objection to my publishing what she gave me; but now that she can make no improvements I want to publish all she wrote. In the funeral file there is also the text of a carol service she arranged for St Matthews, including seldom heard readings, one of them George Herbert’s on Christmas.

3. There was never enchantment between us, of sense or of sight ,

This too I have already copied. I had received it, on 11th October 1961, as yet another invented character in an invented situation; but both then, when Marion had just seen Jocelyn off to a lecturership in Birmingham and when he had died, several people thought it expressed the colour he brought to her life. But it hadn’t been written for him. She told me she began it two years before, and she strongly denied that she would ever have adopted the unreasoning attitude of the ‘I’ in the poem, and added the sin of despair to the pain of grief. For the funeral reading she changed ‘shuddering’ in l.8 to ‘flickering’, and more importantly l.10 to
‘Love is more than the mirth of two who meet on a stair’. The final two lines now express a sense of beauty lost, and the emptiness remaining.
The beauty did not belong to Jocelyn, but to what he could make apparent.
Poetry already written out of her knowledge of human pain could, and must, serve the new experience, but serve it truly.

4. Dead with the leaves, dead with the summer’s dying,
You who sang sweetly now silent, now silent lying,
Come, come again:
Come in the misty sunlight, in the blue air’s frosty glow,
In the wind, in the sudden drenching autumn rain,
In the great undemanding silence of new-fallen snow.

Come at my call, come at my song’s persuading,
Speak to my heart of a sweetness, a sweetness fading,
Lost, lost for shame :
Lost in the panic of pride, in the lusting of sense and sight,
In haste, in unworthy dread of rebuff or blame, in the tongue-tied Inadvertency of too swift delight.

Grant but a pause, grant but a little staying,
Pause like a bird of the summer, with summer delaying,
Stay, stay for me :
Stay for my coming, I come with what speed I may ,
Impatient of mortal longing I hasten to see
Whether death can be truly shadowed in what poets say.

4 October 1955

The Birds

Jocelyn Powell, who had been both a pupil and a friend, moved to Birmingham in 1961, and there became Director of the University Department of Drama and Theatre Arts. Marion herself was invited to join Birmingham and did so in 1960; but she resigned in resistance to John Russell Brown’s neglect of the justice of starting Honours work with first-years fresh from VI-form training. Jocelyn died unexpectedly in September 1986. At his funeral, Marion read by way of a tribute to him one of his and eight of her own poems. Two of these she significantly altered for the purpose. This group of readings is filed together in the collection of her poetry. I copy them here together, as the tribute she designed, but they will be indexed with the rest of her poems.

What Marion read for Jocelyn in September 1986.


In moments when the sky is broken by the flight of sparrows,
The air above the fountain clouded with doves,
When the wires bend with the weight of swifts,

When the rooks hang like a swarm over the pine trees,
When the swans are lifted up over the lake,
When flamingos light on the waters,

The cry of birds is in the air , the cry of spirits in the wind,
And the insects that come out to savour the damp evening
Hum, buzz, and are devoured.

The birds settle, gossip, are still, and fly:
The grubs dart, hover, and are still:
The Dead at last, their heads beneath their wings, are full.

The crying ceases.

Life is brief and death is long

Life is brief and death is long ,
Ptolemy , Ptolemy :
Let us die like swans in song ;
Sing the pathetic fallacy !
We are right and you were wrong ,
Ptolemy .

For the earth goes round the sun ,
Ptolemy , Ptolemy :
Other credence is there nne ;
Sing the athetic fallacy !
You have lost and we have won ,
Ptolemy .

Did the sun partake your woe ,
Ptolemy , Ptolemy ?
Did he joy with those below ?
Sing the pathetic fallacy !
We stand doubting but you know ,
Ptolemy .

Did you join the sky in mirth ,
Ptolemy , Ptolemy ,
When the sun went round the earth ?
Sing the pathetic fallacy
Did the stars dance at your birth ,
Ptolemy ?

Now your shining star is dim ,
Ptolemy , Ptolemy :
Mars is rising red and grim ;
Sing the pathetic fallacy !
hat would you have said of him ,
Ptolemy ?

Make an end of vain belief ,
Ptolemy , Ptolemy :
Years of progress brng relief ;
Sing the pathetic fallacy !
Death is long and life is brief ,
Ptolemy .


Strawberries in June you give to me

Strawberries in June you give to me ,
With sugar powdered lavishly ,
Rounded and ripely red are they
As from some picture painted gay
Of croquet on the lawn, and tea
At four beneath the cherry tree :
Huge praise is due , let all agree ,
To those who nobly give away
Strawberries in June .

In years to come this thought shall be
A garden gate to memory :
Next year and every year I may
On many a long and sunlit day
Recall your kindness when I see
Strawberries in June .

Curries of Walnut Cottage . 22 June 1954

Now , even now , while conscious of some betrayal

Now , even now , while conscious of some betrayal
You pause , the malicious word half-spoken ,
He where he lies in torment takes new breath ;
You shrug and gossip on , a weak vow broken ;
Fresh pain assails him ; now he moans , half-conscious ,
Cockcrow comes hard upon the third denial :
In the grey light , as the sullen tide sets seaward ,
His little strength ebbs slowly to his death .

You in the sunlight , you in the happy garden ,
You strong and young , with young friends at your will
Remember him you have blinded and made dumb ;
His cup of life was yours to save or spill ;
You have tossed his blood on the grass as you sat in sunlight .
Leave all and fly to him , take back your burden ,
Rescue him now , even now , as the tide sets seaward ,
He is your soul , he is your life to come .

21 June 1954



Now starlight is pale
I shine on thee sleeping ,
Sweet body too frail
To rest in my keeping .

My stars blaze on high :
All winter has seen them ,
Nailed out on the sky ,
Taut vastness between them .

Now starlight is pale
Rise up and behold me ,
Sweet body too frail
In love to enfold me .

Here silent I wait ,
Thine ever , thine only ,
Orion the great ,
Orion the lonely .

20 June 1954

The Secret

The Secret

The lark had heard it from the meadow grasses ,
The grasses from the wind , the wind from the reeds ;
The reeds had seen it written in the water
By the long drooping fingers of the willow ;
The willow heard it from the singing river ;
But where the river heard it , who can tell ?
I cannot read the secret in the water —
Come now to me my sudden kingfisher ,
Come as my master , my interpreter :
Teach me to listen , teach me to decipher .
That I may grow at last to share that secret
Written by willow fingers in the water ,
Told by the reeds to the wind , by the wind to the grasses ,
And so by the sweet meadow grasses to the morning lark .

17 June 1954

D.J. at 40

D.J. at 40

I have heard sweeter voices :
Many the gentle murmur , the soft speech I have heard ;
But my hearing is well content , my heart rejoices
At the ring of her roughest word .

I have seen fairer faces :
Many the delicate pallor , the smooth cheek I have seen ;
But my sight retains an image my heart embraces
Of the lines where her smile has been .

I have known love worth taking :
Many the wilful conquest , the stolen joy I have known ;
But my mind would have me believe my heart is breaking
For her love , for her love alone .

23 May 1954