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
Where haws along bedraggled hedgerows burn , [comma added in print]
See now the gallant robin carolling,
Breast glorious with God’s blood : at every note
Men drugged with sleeping stir ,
Start up in terror from their cloudy dream ,
Set heart and hand to hasty homaging :
Now sweep their paths of every withered day ,
Now with numb fingers strive to scrape away
That crude and spongy-green encrusted sin
Spawned by damp years upon a mouldering barn :
Tenement ruinous , poor soul at best
Too crazy shelter for the meanest guest
Prepare , prepare ;
Light candles ; call for wine, for bread ; choose gifts ; [printed ‘candles ,’ ]
For soon He shall appear ,
Not heralded by fanfare or by drum , [printed ‘and by drum But by’]
But by the silent radiance of a star ,
By many bells , by children singing clear , [printed ‘merry bells’]
By grunt and bray and lowing through the night ,
By twittering, by the whirring of small wings : [printed to full stop]
Be ready ; now look up , the sky is bright — [printed ‘Be ready :’]
Slow on that pearl-grey sea a dark ship drifts ,
When sudden through the porthole prys the sun : [printed ‘pries’]
Now row on row of naked trees upturn
Gaunt hands in prayer ; and still the robin sings , [printed ‘prayer ,’]
Tuning his music for the King of kings .
30 November 1953
This was printed in the St Matthews Parish Magazine December 1986, with some corrections , and over the signature M.G. Parry
A gift so small on such a date
Reflects the churlishness of fate ,
That grudges me by gifts to show
True measure of the love below ;
Fortune’s caprice I cannot wait —
Change when it may , ’tis still too late ;
My gift but measures my estate :
Think then no scorn that I bestow
A gift so small .
Your worth no censure can abate ,
No praise can lend too high a rate :
Though with the years my power may grow
To match my will , for this time know
None ever gave with love more great
A gift so small .
23 July 1953
At the hour of the witch
When few dim stars look down
The bells and I keep watch
Above this town .
Quarter by clear quarter
The wakeful chimes consort :
“Waste not on toys frail creature ,
A life too short ;
In this late , perfect hour ,
Snatched from our master , Time ,
Make something nobler here
Than idle rhyme . ”
Warn me not , gentle chimes :
Your wish is vain , for I
When the sweet stirring comes
Must rhyme or die .
12 December 1952
A Birthday Valentine
Sweets to the sweet I bring today ,
And give with them my heart away ;
For how can you with grace decline
This heart by courtesy called mine
Since first I owned your gentle sway ?
With the same courtesy I pray ,
Waive all demurring and delay ,
Accept my heart as I resign
Sweets to the sweet .
When you are near my heart is gay .
My highest joy is to obey :
Dear heart , in whom all sweets combine ,
Take this belated valentine :
Nor think I flatter when I say
“Sweets to the sweet .”
Believe me , Madam ,
Your very obedient humble servant
Edward Boswell Bear
Ah, not so many years ago I was a young romantic .
The magnitude of human woe struck horror to my heart ,
To aid my comrades here below my energy was frantic ,
And yet I never seemed to know just how or where to start .
Ah , not so many years ahead a classic I shall be .
My noble thoughts by thousands read shall win me endless credit ,
In temples of the honoured dead a niche shall wait for me ,
And I , forgetful what I said , shall rest content I said it .
But now , between the then and then , a hypocrite I am , alas ,
The silver smoothness of my pen does not reflect my views ,
I look upon the world of men and cannot care a damn , alas ,
And wait for it to praise me when I veil this wretched news .
18th May 1952. The final line is in process of alteration. Marion was doing Schools .
Admired Burlerrow, farm beyond compare,
From stir sequestered and remote from care
I sing . ‘sweet Muse, assist my grateful lays
To hymn Burlerrow’s never dying praise
Speak not of Jove — a jovial lord presides
And fleeter steeds than Phoebus’ own provides
Juno, retire: a matron far more bland
Sways this Olympus with a bounteous hand :
Blush, Hebe : smiling Mary stands supreme
And shames your nectar with her Cornish cream :
The weary traveller finds refreshment rare
And strengthened breathes to heaven a parting prayer :
Long may this house in peace and plenty rest
And joys domestic cheer the favoured guest ,
That he may counsel each returning year,
‘Seek bliss no further! I have found it here .’
6 September 1951
This is a rare example of work I have in an unfinished state. She seems to have had a struggle to throw off the vocabulary of Eldorado. The fair copy, of course, she gave the farmer and his wife.
“A desirable freehold residence —
Ignore the creaking gate, the rampant hedge” ;
“A little oil, a few hours’ work with shears ” :
Ignore the weeds, the tough untidy grass ;
“They can’t have used a lawnmower for years ”:
Newspaper, orange peel and broken glass ;
“Their dustman can’t have much intelligence —
Really this litter is the outside edge!”
“Pray hush, my love, ’tis of no consequence
Forget all else and take my heart in pledge
Our heaven is here, and all this world appears
Stainless and strong as monumental brass”
“The sun will break through when this drizzle clears,
Be careful of that puddle as you pass .”
“See how the faint rays gild with innocence
That old milkbottle on the window ledge !”
Safe now within, they visit every room,
Exclaiming at their newfound paradise :
“So large, and airy too, if somewhat cold —
But not too rambling for convenience – ”
“A coat of paint will soon relieve the gloom
In this north parlour — ” “darling, are there mice ?”
“Hardly, I think : of course the place is old —
But fear no horror from my negligence ,
I will protect you till the day of doom !”
Young lovers rarely heed well-meant advice ,
Their hopes are sanguine when they first behold
A desirable freehold residence .
Undated, but the pen and writing is of 1950