Saturday, 20 February 2010

To a Daughter Never Seen

A poem by J.M. Collard

If I should never see you in this world.
If war's inconsequence should claim me, too.
God grant me this.
That I may come to you when you're asleep,
With tiny fingers curled around your pillow,
With the moon's white rays making a halo 'round your golden hair.
Give me an hour to let me watch you there.
Midway between this life and death's dark waste.
And then perhaps when many years have passed,
You will recall a long forgotten dream,
Of how a stranger came when you were fast asleep,
And stooped and kissed your curly head.
And as you think of me there'll be a gleam of light,
Upon the valley of the dead.


I first heard this poem, some years ago on Radio 4's 'Poetry Please'. I found it so moving that I transcribed it from a recording I made of the repeat broadcast. Thus, the layout may not be exactly as originally intended.
Apparently, this poem is taken from 'War Poems of the Middle East (1940-1946)', although I'm not sure if that is the correct title; I have been unable to trace the book. Neither have I been able to find out anything about J.M. Collard. The feeling one gets from the poem is that he perished, claimed by 'war's inconsequence'; there is such a sense of prophetic foreboding. (I do very much hope that I am wrong though and that he and his daughter finally met and lived long and happy lives after the war.)