Poems by Rosamund Stanhope
Rosamund Stanhope trained for the stage, and later for teaching drama, at the Central School. She also holds an English honours degree. Conscripted in 1943, she served with the Royal Naval Air Service branch of the W.R.N.S. as a P.O. radio mechanic. After the war, she married a Welshman, and her only child - a daughter - was born in Swansea on St. David's Day. In 1963 she broke her back and hence her legs are partially paralysed. She has taught and lectured in English and Drama in schools and colleges in Worcestershire and Shropshire. Rosamund Stanhope has been writing poetry since the age of six. Muriel Spark was the first editor to accept one of her poems, for Poetry Review. In 1962 Scorpion Press published her first collection of poems, So I Looked Down to Camelot, which was reviewed favourably by Elizabeth Jennings.
Lapidary is a deeply moving and witty volume full of verbal fireworks and elements of surprise. Rosamund Stanhope is particularly effective in deploying contrasting registers of language such as slang and legal jargon. Poems within this collection have appeared in leading literary journals on both sides of the Atlantic, such as London Review of Books, New Statesman, Poetry Wales and Webster Review (U.S.A.). Some of her poems have been used by the South-East Wales Dial-a-poem service.
Overlooking The Sea
Beyond curtains, the sea
performs its lapidary magic
smoothing pebbles in the green silk of its waves
while the Cork ferry recedes
a lighted wedding-cake
from the black pane of the bay.
And this is what holds me: none of your
dropping of plumblines in the safe laps of suburbs
building supportive terraces, intimate semis
hand in glove against the weather; mansions
secure in their play-pens of parkland
never out of the range of Nannie’s eye.
You couldn’t better a place
such as this, so near to ruin
so committed to planting its daring foundations
as close as a shave to the precipice. I need
the risk of slipping, the doubt
not precluded by a party wall.
A place as safe as houses
pitched on the edge of the San Andreas fault.
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Cover illustration: 'Totes Meer' by Paul Nash. (The Tate Gallery, London). Courtesy of the Paul Nash Trust
Publication: AUTUMN 1990 (64 pages laminated paperback)