Muriel Stuart – In the Orchard

Muriel Stuart – In the Orchard

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IN THE ORCHARD by Muriel Stuart. Praised by Hugh MacDiarmid as the best of the women poets writing during the Scottish Renaissance, Muriel Stuart, it turns out, was not Scottish at all, but English. MacDiarmid was right in other respects though - she was a superb poet, writing in the 1920s on sexual politics, love and nature with immense courage and profundity. Her neglected work includes such gems as 'The Seed Shop', 'Mrs Effingham's Swan Song' and the title poem of this selection, which is the first new edition of her poetry for more than seventy years (36 pages).

"Superlatively good" - Thomas Hardy, on Muriel Stuart's poetry.

"There is no English woman poet living today who is Muriel Stuart's peer." - Henry Savage (1926 introduction to an American edition of her poems)

"Her power derives from her complete individuality of perception and her forthrightness of utterance. She stoops at no trimming or concealing." - Hugh MacDiarmid (1925).

When I grow old and my quick blood is chilled,
And all my thoughts are grey as my grey hair,
When I am slow and dull, and do not care,
And all the strife and storm of Life are stilled;
Then if one carelessly should speak your name
It will go through my body like swift spears
To set my fireless bosom in a flame,
My faded eyelids will be bright with tears;
And I shall find how far my heart has gone
From wanting you,—how lost and long ago
That love of ours was: I shall suddenly know
How old and grey I am . . . and how alone.