I’m discovering that Dad kept lots of things from me which I have completely forgotten. Amongst the latest batch is a poem I wrote when in my mid-teens. To understand some of the allusions, it helps to know that my bedroom had wallpaper featuring Greek and Roman gods in green and gold, and that I also had a statuette of the Virgin Mary, very simply made in white porcelain with a gold rim painted round the edge of her robe. I called the poem
Trapped by the dungeon key
of my rage and misery,
in white and gold serenity
Lady, you irradiate silently
so that the pagan figurines
step down and lean
round me in shadows green and grey
and with their lutes pay
homage, in singing sweet and silent as the air.
While the milky morning
with cold suspended breath is listening
at the window, the golds
of silver birch leaves old
catch fire from an autumn sun
that ripens red among dun
hedges of cloud, and birds speak thoughtfully.
Trees near and fields far,
forms of still life that are
ever beautiful, smiling and mysterious
as an Eastern virgin, with finger pressed
to lips, and never a word
what she has heard
from the young morning Power that conquers body and blood.