Find the Poet

Angela Macmillan puts out a request to all poetry sleuths.

Can anyone help track down any information about the poem and the poet below?

At school in Bexhill-on-Sea in the early sixties this was one of the dozens of poems we were given to learn by heart. Most of the poems were well known and loved: ‘The Lady of Shalott’, ‘Ozymandias’, ‘Westminster Bridge’; poems by Hardy, Browning, Hopkins and Keats. They have all remained with me making up, with others memorised along the way, my inner anthology.

The teacher who gave us this one was called Miss Ena Coombe and I think she lived in Eastbourne. I have my suspicions that Ena Coombe and Elizabeth Cumming could be one and the same since I can find no trace of the latter and Ena Coombe would have been one of the generation of women deprived of the possibility of marriage and children after the devastation of the First World War.

I may have bits of it wrong, I don’t know the title and I can only vaguely remember how it looked on the page so the line arrangement is probably mostly my own. But if anyone out there recognises it, do get in touch.

And again tomorrow
it will be Spring.
There will be a sigh in the boughs, a quickened beat
of earth’s pulse, and leaf on leaf, petal by petal, wing after wing
They will return, the green wreaths and the flute players and the dancing feet
And sorrow
will be a shadow at the heels of spring.
I shall forget a little. I shall be glad once more –
(since men have died from time to time but not for love) –
to see again, as all the springs before,
how the pale light trembles between the clustered cherry flowers, how above
the swallows whirl their wide sure loops of flight,
Flashing the small white breast, the small sharp arrow wing,
and the strong heart will bud again and feel the light of spring,
forsaking only half reluctantly its watch beside a too magnificent memory.
I know that men have died each spring, but not for love
and we outlive love’s baffled agony and bleeding pride,
and the dark trance of sorrow,
finding a new inglorious joy when the sky’s soft above
and crocuses push through the grass, tomorrow.
And I know too, it would have been less bitter to have died.

Elizabeth Cumming

2 thoughts on “Find the Poet”

  1. I can’t help with the poem, sorry. But there is a writer called Elizabeth Cumming involved in the arts and craft movement (google tells me). We could be daring and write to ask her if she is the poet.

  2. Yes, I saw that too. But I think it unlikely as the poem was given to me so long ago.
    I seem to have drawn a blank but it was worth a try. Thanks for looking.

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