Over the past weekend, I came upon this, and another name.
And so, Anne Everard, in those leafy Junes
Long withered; in those ancient, dark Decembers,
Deep in the drift of time, haunted by tunes
Long silent; you, beside the homely embers,
Or in some garden fragrant and precise
Were diligent and attentive all day long!
Fashioning with bright wool and stitches nice
Your sampler, did you hear the thrushes' song
Wistfully? While, in orderly array,
Six rounded trees grew up; the alphabet,
Stout and uncompromising, done in grey;
The Lord's Prayer, and your age, in violet;
Did you, Anne Everard, dream from hour to hour
How the young wind was crying on the hill,
And the young world was breaking into flower?
With small head meekly bent, all mute and still,
Earnest to win the promised great reward,
Did you not see the birds, at shadow-time,
Come hopping all across the dewy sward?
Did you not hear the bells of Faery chime
Liquidly, where the brittle hyacinths grew?
Your dream -- attention; diligence, your aim!
And when the last long needleful was through,
When, laboured for so long, the guerdon came --
Thomson, his Seasons, neatly bound in green --
How brightly would the golden letters shine!
Ah! many a petalled May the moon has seen
Since Anne -- attentive, diligent, aetat nine --
Puckering her young brow, read the stately phrases.
Sampler and book are here without a stain --
Only Anne Everard lies beneath the daisies;
Only Anne Everard will not come again.
Mary Webb (1881-1927), Poems and The Spring of Joy (Jonathan Cape 1928).
Mary Webb was born in Shropshire, and lived there most of her life. After her death, an edition of James Thomson's The Seasons was found in her library. The signature "Anne Everard" appears on the front flyleaf of the book.
Stanley Gardiner (1887-1952), "Lamorna Valley, Evening"
Something written by Thomas Hardy in one of his notebooks comes to mind:
"The most prosaic man becomes a poem when you stand by his grave at his funeral and think of him."
Thomas Hardy, notebook entry for May 29, 1872, in Richard Taylor (editor), The Personal Notebooks of Thomas Hardy (Macmillan 1978), page 10.
F. T. Prince uses Hardy's observation as the basis for a poem:
Stand at the grave's head
Of any common
Man or woman,
Thomas Hardy said,
And in the silence
What they were,
Their life, becomes a poem.
And so with my dead,
As I know them
Now, in his
And wait for, yet a while hence,
My own silence.
F. T. Prince (1912-2003), Collected Poems: 1935-1992 (The Sheep Meadow Press 1993).
I find it surprising that Prince chooses to use the word "common" in the second line, rather than Hardy's "prosaic": the transition from "prosaic" to "poem" is what makes Hardy's thought so touching and beautiful. Still, Prince's poem is lovely as well.
We are all "prosaic," we are all "common," aren't we? But, when I read of Anne Everard, Tamsin Trenoweth, Claudia of Rome, and the nun Jutei, I feel compelled to say: Not entirely.
There cannot be, confusion of our sound forgot,
A single soul that lacks a sweet crystalline cry.
W. B. Yeats, "Paudeen," in Responsibilities and Other Poems (Macmillan 1916).
Kathleen Wilson (d. 1936), "Thatched Cottages"
If I may, this is for Anne Everard, Tamsin Trenoweth, Claudia of Rome, and the nun Jutei.
Good-night; ensured release,
Have these for yours,
While sea abides, and land,
And earth's foundations stand,
And heaven endures.
When earth's foundations flee,
Nor sky nor land nor sea
At all is found,
Content you, let them burn:
It is not your concern;
Sleep on, sleep sound.
A. E. Housman, More Poems (Jonathan Cape 1936).
Lewis Fry (1832-1921), "View from Clifton Hill"