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This article is taken from PN Review 131, Volume 26 Number 3, January - February 2000.

Shelf Lives: 9: E.J. Scovell Peter Scupham

A Face

Nothing more beautiful will come my way
Than his face tilted where it lay.
Lay, as it happened, in my elbow's crook
(A child of four), yet with that look
Of lit from farther than the stars. His eyes
Were shut, and other gates likewise
That give on the world, though his nape knew where best,
Rumpling my sleeve, to come to rest;
Then lay in living stillness. Nothing here
But lines by chance handsome, skin clear
As children's is; but meaning with such power
Flowed through, I could have watched an hour;
As on a bridge above a waterfall
We watch one form, through which flows all.

Joy Scovell, who died this last October, began writing in the 1920s. Her fifth and final individual collection, Listening to Collared Doves, was published by John Mole and myself at The Mandeville Press in 1986. Her literary legacy lies in the 240 pages of her Collected Poems (Carcanet, 1988). She jostled for no prizes, jumped through no hoops, never called out 'Look at me, I'm writing!' She read at no festivals, served on no committees, did not play Snakes and Ladders with other poets' reputations. She simply wrote; wrote with a reticent candour, a clean exactitude of phrasing, a most observant eye and a warm heart. Thank goodness she lived to see that Collected Poems in print, or she might ...


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