Anne Barbara Ridler

(30 July 1912 – 15 October 2001 / Rugby, England)

A Letter


Lying in bed this morning, just a year

Since our first days, I was trying to assess --

Against my natural caution -- by desire

And how the fact outdid it, my happiness:

And finding the awkwardness of keeping clear

Numberless flamingo thoughts and memories,

My dear and dearest husband, in this kind

Of rambling letter, I'll disburse my mind.

Technical problems have always given me trouble:

A child stiff at the fiddle, my ear had praise

And my intention only; so, as was natural,

Coming to verse, I hid my lack of ease

By writing only as I thought myself able,

Escaped the crash of the bold by salt originalities.

This is one reason for writing far from one's heart;

A better is, that one fears it may be hurt.

By an inadequate style one fears to cheapen

Glory, and that it may be blurred if seen

Through the eye's used centre, not the new margin.

It is the hardest thing with love to burn

And write it down, for what was the real passion

Left to its own words will seem trivial and thin.

We can in making love look face to face:

In poetry, crooked, and with no embrace.

Tolstoy's hero found in his newborn child

Only another aching, vulnerable part;

And it is true our first joy hundredfold

Increased our dangers, pricking in every street

In accidents and wars: yet this is healed

Not by reason, but with an endurance of delight

Since our marriage, which, once thoroughly known,

Is known for good, though in time it were gone.

You, hopeful baby with the erring toes,

Grew, it seems to me, to a natural pleasure

In the elegant strict machine, from the abstruse

Science of printing to the rich red and azure

It plays on hoardings, rusty industrial noise,

All these could add to your inherited treasure:

A poise which many wish for, writing the machine

Poems of laboured praise, but few attain.

And loitered up your childhood to my arms.

I would hold you there for ever, and know

Certainly now, that though the vacuum looms

Quotidian dullness, in these beams don't die

They're wrong who say that happiness never comes

On earth, that was spread here its crystal sea.

And since you, loiterer, did compose this wonder,

Be with me still, and may God hold his thunder.

Submitted: Tuesday, March 20, 2012

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