I have chosen two Lady Poets, their poems could not be more different, but both well loved. Perhaps the first Poet is more highly recognised. She was;
Christina Georgina Rossetti. Born – December 5, 1830 London, England.
Died – December 29, 1894 Torrington Square, Bloomsbury, London, England. Christina Rossetti in the later years of her life suffered from Graves’ Disease which was diagnosed in 1872, she suffered a nearly fatal attack in the early 1870s. It was in 1893 Christina Rossetti developed Breast Cancer and even though the tumour was removed, she suffered a recurrence in September 1894. Christina Rossetti died in Torrington Square, Bloomsbury, London on December 29, 1894. She was buried in the famous Highgate Cemetery. The actual place where Christina died in Torrington Square is marked with a stone tablet.
Christina Rossetti was born in Charlotte Street, London to Gabriele Rossetti, a poet and a political exile from Vasto, Abruzzo and Frances Polidori. She was a very happy child. Until when she was 14 years of age she suffered a nervous breakdown and left school. In her late teens, she became engaged to the Painter James Collinson, he was the first of three suitors. The engagement was broken in 1850. She later became involved with the linguist Charles Cayley, but she declined to marry him. The third offer of marriage came from the Painter John Brett, whom she also refused.
Rossetti began writing down and also dating her poems from 1842 she mostly imitated her favoured poets, her early pieces often featured meditations on death and loss, in the Romantic tradition.
Her famous collection, “Goblin Market and Other Poems” appeared in 1862 when she was 31 years of age. This received widespread critical praise which established her as the foremost female poet of that time. With the death of Elizabeth Barrett Browning in 1861, Christina Rossetti was hailed as her natural successor. She continued to write and publish for the rest of her life.
Come to me in the silence of the night;
Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
As sunlight on a stream;
Come back in tears,
O memory, hope, love of finished years.
O dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter sweet,
Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,
Where souls brimfull of love abide and meet;
Where thirsting longing
Watch the slow door
That opening, letting in, lets out no more.
Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live
My very life again though cold in death;
Come back to me in dreams, that I may give
Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:
Speak low, lean low
As long ago, my lovem, how long ago.
The final Poet, although some would say she is not, I don’t agree, she gives so much pleasure. For me Poetry is written with honesty and love, its hard work but I find I have to write a few lines every day, even if no one looks at them. The Lady in question is Pam Ayres.
Pam Ayres Born – March 14, 1947 – Stanford-in-the-Vale, Berkshire, England. It was Berkshire then, its now Oxfordshire due to Boundary changes, to suit Politicians.
Pam Ayres left School aged 15 and joined the Civil Service as a clerical assistant, she worked at the Army (RAOC) Central Ordnance Depot in Bicester. She quickly left this post and signed up for the Women’s’ Royal Air Force, she had a position in the drawing office, where she dealt with operational maps. It was whilst in the Air Force, Pam Ayres gained O-Level passes in English Language and English Literature, she soon began her career in entertainment. She would read her verses at the local folk club in Oxfordshire which soon led to an invitation to read on the local BBC Radio station in 1974.
Bob Dylan inspired Pam Ayres to write her poetry, in a 2006 interview she added at the age of twelve she enjoyed writing parodies of the Lonnie Donegan songs which were popular at the time. Lonnie Donegan, forgotten as the original Rock and Roll singer, he had a skittle.
In Pam Ayres biography “The Necessary Aptitude: A Memoir” which was published in 2011, it traces her life and career from growing up as the youngest of six children, in a Council House in the Vale-of-White Horse, Berkshire to her time in the Women’s’ Royal Air Force to the start of her career. The title of her book, refers to the number of times she was told in her life she “did not have the necessary aptitude”.
Pam Ayres is married to the Theatre Producer Dudley Russell, and has two Sons. They live in the Cotswold, keep rare breeds of cattle along with sheep, pigs, chickens and guinea fowl. She is a keen gardener and beekeeper. She is Patron of the British Hen Welfare Trust and Cheltenham Animal Shelter. In the year 2004, Pam Ayres was appointed MBE for services to literature and entertainment.
Just a little taste of Pan Ayres work.
“Had a Little Work Done”
O Botox, O Botox, I’m ever so keen,
To look as I looked at the age of sixteen.
Induce paralysis, do as I ask,
Give me, O give me, a face like a mask.
O take up a surgical bicycle pump,
And give me some lips that are lovely and plump.
Young Men will stagger and say “oh my God!”
Here comes Pan Ayres—-and she looks like a “Cod!”
I hope you have enjoyed my selection. Both so different in style, yet both so popular in their own right.