November 19th William Sydney Graham (Birth)























The Greenock – born William Sydney Graham (1918 – 1986) poet was associated with the neo-romantics, Dylan Thomas and George Barker who he knew from his Soho days. He became noted due to promotion by his close friends, including Harold Pinter who wrote that ‘I've said about W.S. Graham's poetry: 'His song is unique and his work is an inspiration.' The same applies to this brilliant collection of letters. The subject is poetry. W.S. Graham drank and ate poetry every day of his life. These letters show an intelligence and sensibility ravished by language and conundrum of language. An explorer whose journey never ends.’

Having studied structural engineering in Glasgow and literature for one year, Graham spent the war working in Scotland, Ireland in London.  His first book, ‘Cage Without Grievance’ was published in 1942 and he moved to Cornwall in 1944, creating another four volumes in the 1940s including, notably, in 1948,The Voyages of Alfred Wallis’ (August 29th) and ‘The White Threshold’ (1949) which was published by T.S. Eliot, editor of Faber & Faber. Also close friends with Roger Hilton (April 30th), Bryan Wynter (September 8th) he published a poem dedicated to him on Wynter’s death (below) and contributed articles to the ‘Cornish Magazine’ created by Denys Val Baker (October 24th).  For many years, Graham lived in Madron in straitened circumstances with his poet wife, Nessie Dunsmuir (September 13th), and died there in 1986.  His Madron home is now marked with a commemorative blue plaque


                                                                                               Dear Bryan Wynter


This is only a note
To say how sorry I am
You died. You will realize
What a position it puts
Me in. I couldn’t really
Have died for you if so
I were inclined. The carn
Foxglove here on the wall
Outside your first house
Leans with me standing
In the Zennor wind.

Anyhow how are things?
Are you still somewhere
With your long legs
And twitching smile under
Your blue hat walking
Across a place? Or am
I greedy to make you up
Again out of memory?
Are you there at all?
I would like to think
You were all right
And not worried about
Monica and the children
And not unhappy or bored.

Speaking to you and not
Knowing if you are there
Is not too difficult.
My words are used to that.
Do you want anything?
Where shall I send something?
Rice-wine, meanders, paintings
By your contemporaries?
Or shall I send a kind
Of news of no time
Leaning against the wall
Outside your old house.

The house and the whole moor
Is flying in the mist.

I am up. I’ve washed
The front of my face
And here I stand looking
Out over the top
Half of my bedroom window.
There almost as far
As I can see I see
St Buryan’s church tower.
An inch to the left, behind
That dark rise of woods,
Is where you used to lurk.

This is only a note
To say I am aware
You are not here. I find
It difficult to go
Beside Housman’s star
Lit fences without you.
And nobody will laugh
At my jokes like you.

Bryan, I would be obliged
If you would scout things out
For me. Although I am not
Just ready to start out.
I am trying to be better,
Which will make you smile
Under your blue hat.

I know I make a symbol
Of the foxglove on the wall.
It is because it knows you.




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