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Mrs. Carmichael

Ruth Silcock

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Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (88 pages)
(Pub. Feb 1987)
£6.95 £6.25
  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author

    ‘Remember Me –’

    ‘Remember me –’,
    She said, and he
    Looked back through lists
    Of names and dates;
    The size, the height,
    The time of night,
    And all the mists
    Of loves and hates.
    ‘Remember me –’,
    She said, and he
    Said, ‘Yes I do’,
    And never knew
    If he had been untrue.


    Lily’s Song

    ‘I have round red cheeks, I have coal black hair,
    My breasts and my body are waxy white,
    I’m as strong as a horse and as solid as a house,
    And I battle with the devil, to my great delight.

    In my nightdress, I stand at my window and shout,
    My curses boom and bomb down the village street.
    The neighbours creep and cry, for they know I cannot lie.
    They are wickeder than I am, and the truth is sweet.

    With my fist like a ham, I smash china and glass.
    My arm is as stiff as a rolling-pin.
    When the television’s hit, I kick and stamp each bit,
    And praise the Lord for helping me to trample sin.

    My husband and I are respectable folk,
    We go to chapel and we sing in the choir.
    We dress in sober grey, we deny the flesh each day,
    And we read the Bible nightly, all about hellfire.

    I know that I am damned, as I dance on the lawn,
    I know that I will burn, as I waggle my bum.
    I roll about the floor, I spit and scream and roar,
    I hammer at my husband till the keepers come.

    They bind me up in blankets, they carry me away,
    They sit me like a lady in a calm high room
    Where I sadly say I’m sorry for the trouble and the worry,
    And I’m saved again for Heaven, and I weep in the gloom.’

    A first collection with a strong atmosphere and a distinctive voice. Mrs. Carmichael brings together poems written over the past twenty years. A house collapsing in the night, the wives of the Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, social misfits of several kinds, William Cowper’s pet hares – Ruth Silcock’s subjects are often unusual. She is drawn to the neglected, peculiar or unnoticed, and brings the situations, people and places in her poems to life with humour, adroit observation and great dexterity in unfamiliar verse patterns.

    Ruth Silcock, born in Manchester in 1926, read English at Girton College, Cambridge. She later became a psychiatric social worker, working with both adults and children. She also published several children’s books as well as her three collections of poems. A successful radio play, 46 Nursing Homes, was based ... read more
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