Peterloo Poets

Poetry Publishers 1972 - 2009




BEWICK, Elizabeth




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Poems by Elizabeth Bewick


Elizabeth Bewick was born in Seaham Harbour (County Durham) in 1919. A career in librarianship began with 5 years service in the Durham City Branch of the County Library, after which she served for 2 years in the W.R.N.S., mostly in and around Portsmouth. After a year’s rehabilitation at University College, London, she decided to specialise in library work with children and spent the next 12 years working in the metropolitan boroughs of St. Pancras, St. Marylebone and Islington, before moving to Hampshire in 1961 to set up the School Library Service in this county. In the course of her career she has done a great deal of lecturing, writing and reviewing and has been an external examiner for the Library Association. For the past 20 years she has lived in a centuries-old brick and flint cottage in Winchester. She has written poetry all her life.

Heartsease is Elizabeth Bewick’s first full collection. An earlier collection of 20 poems (none of which appear in this volume) entitled Comfort Me With Apples was published by The Florin Press in 1987 in a limited, bound, slip-cased edition of 135 copies with wood engravings by Graham Williams and an introduction by Kevin Crossley-Holland.

“Heartsease, Wild Pansy, Monkey-faces, Three-faces-under-a-hood, Step-mothers, Love-in-idleness, Trinities.

Heartsease is adept at protecting itself from bad weather by drooping its head  at night or at the onset of rain, so that its petals stay dry. It was formerly  used as a remedy for epilepsy and diseases of the heart, and this probably  accounts for its mediaeval name. It was Christianised in the sixteenth  century, to become Trinities or Three-faces-under-a-hood.

This is the flower that Puck gave to Oberon to work the mischief of A  Midsummer Night’s Dream, and it was often a vital ingredient in love-charms.  The dried plant was powdered and put into the food or hidden in the room of  the person desired. It is the food plant of the gorgeous butterfly Queen of  Spain Fritillary, Issoria lathonia.”

(from The Wild Garden by Lys de Bray, Weidenfield and Nicholson, 1978)


A Question of Carelessness

Can one lose people
as one loses things,
by being careless
or forgetful of the press
of their own needs,

a sense of loss most keen
and finger-tips most sore
when scrabbling on the floor
sifting the dust to find
torn pieces of the pattern of the mind?

Only for that short time
it takes to catch a breath
and think about the death
of what we love the most,
and lose all hope

then, surging on a tide
of love and pain,
sure as the round world spins
people like misplaced pins
turn up to prick again!


Price 7.95 per copy post free (5.30 post free to Associate Members)
Cover illustration: Janet Bewick
Publication: AUTUMN 1991 (64 pages laminated paperback)