Sunday Poetry – Mabel Esther Allan

This week’s poem combines my reading this week with one of the new books that have just arrived on my doorstep. I’ve read a couple of books by Mabel Esther Allan. She was mostly known as a writer of children’s books but she also wrote for adults. Girls Gone By & Greyladies have reprinted several of her books & I’ve just bought the latest Greyladies reprint, Death Goes Dancing, a murder mystery set in the world of the theatre.

I’ve just finished reading a wonderful book of letters written during WWII, A Vicarage in the Blitz, by Molly Rich. I’ll be posting about it next week but it’s made me want to read more books set in WWII. So, to combine those two themes, I’ve picked up my trusty anthology of women’s poetry from both World Wars, The Virago Book of Women’s War Poetry and Verse, edited by Catherine Reilly. This is an omnibus consisting of Scars Upon My Heart (WWI) & Chaos of the Night (WWII). This poem combines Mabel Esther Allan & the Blitz as it was written after Allan witnessed the bombing of Wallasey in Cheshire in 1941.

I saw a broken town beside the grey March sea,
Spray flung in the air and no larks singing,
And houses lurching, twisted, where the chestnut trees
Stand ripped and stark; the fierce wind bringing
The choking dust in clouds along deserted streets,
Shaking the gaping rooms, the jagged, raw-white stone.
Seeking for what in this quiet, stricken town? It beats
About each fallen wall, each beam, leaving no livid, aching place alone.

12 thoughts on “Sunday Poetry – Mabel Esther Allan

  1. That's very moving, isn't it? I'm reading about WWII and the Women's Institutes, and it's still hard to imagine what 'ordinary' people went through. (P.S. I have Jane Austen and Food on my reading table, too!)

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  2. I bought JA & Food for my Kindle after reading that it had just been released as an ebook. It's very good, I'm about halfway through. I think I'll be reading a lot about the wars this year so the poetry will probably feature in Sunday Poetry quite a bit.

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  3. I'm glad you could get hold of the book. There's so little women's poetry of the wars compared to the men that I think it's important to be able to keep it available.

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