Thursday, 17 September 2015

W. H. Oliver, 1925–2015


Like, I suspect they think,
that poet in To the Lighthouse
who had years before written
a dozen or so good lines
and sat out each day asleep
in his especial chair
in a corner of the garden
sheltered as well as may be
from the condoning silence
everyone knew would not end:
like that indeed a little
having managed myself a few
good pages once in a while
I have sat with a rug on the porch,
and a full glass catching the light
of a declining sun and wondered
if it was to be expected
that in my turn I should slip
into the dark as it fell
and into the silence succeeding
the abruptly broken off
song of a homewards bird
and imagined at first idly
that one would come to the dark
with a small light in her hand,
and wondered if I would try
if no more than that to break
the unyielding silence with
what might be accepted as
a note of thanks to end with.

W. H. Oliver

W. H. (Bill) Oliver, historian, editor and poet, died on Wednesday and is remembered in a service at Old St Paul’s at 11.30am Friday. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. ‘Sundowner’ is a ‘late’ poem, from Poems 1946–2005.

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