English poetry

Poems in English

Jessie of Gibraltar

Our lives were founded on this rock, this Jessie of Gibraltar
Whose unfailing love endured beyond her ample nursing,
And we grew out of a rich and favoured childhood aware
Her powers were real (we tested them enough to know their soundness) into
Individual and relentlessly expanding worlds assured because she made it so.
And so into our grown lives in spite of distance and diversity
Composed by milieu unreconciled with age she climbed the crooked mile
To share with us (for better or worse) our triumphs and tragedies in life.
Memories of her wry perceptions and idiomatic circumlocution
Charmed the senses rather than presumed, she had
An uncanny gift to pin evasive teens and wrest the truth without
Conceding adolescent confidence and her continuous
And humble capacity for love and forgiveness allayed our doubt.
We heard it said she was the same into her final hours,
The impish humour that sprang forth brusque and clear
And a fierce resolve for liberty despite well-meant restraints,
A charitable reach for those she thought less fortunate
And practised feints she meant to let her will allow.
And thus she will be in our separate and unknowable futures
For which she fitted us before we knew. And now we know
So evident and strong an abiding lesson in humility sung
In the voices of children gathered to celebrate her life,
A song of radiant pride (though its sadness undeniable)
For a mother and wife who loved and taught her children to love.
And is gone.
In bidding her goodbye we raise her up again and bear her on
In the lives bequeathed our children,
To rest in everlasting peace.

February 2002
In memory of our mother, Jessie Maria Carswell (nee Gillgren)

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Poem Jessie of Gibraltar - Ivan Donn Carswell