March 1943.

Beautiful things I remember between sunset and dark.

These beautiful things I remember in the afterglow of twilight.

The spicy scent of white stocks after rain,

White tobacco flowers that droop and are drab all day, but at night

Open their starry flowers and pour forth their sweetness

Gathered and stored all day, then like the precious

Box of spikenard, broken and poured abroad in extravagant richness.

The orange fire of cherianthus that burns and glows in the gathering gloom,

The “sleep song” of a babe in its cot in a quiet darkened room.

The scent of lilac and newly mown hay,

Banks of white mist that presage tomorrow’s hot day.

The plaintive bleat after shearing day of lost little lambs,

Having to trust the call of this shingled, naked, dawn.

The quick-silver song of the blackbird as he serenades his mate.

The liquid voice of the thrush a spate golden,

Of notes that descend like a sun kissed waterfall.


Although this poem ‘Afterglow’ was undated it is probable that May wrote it very shortly after writing the poem ‘In a Foreign Land N.A [North Africa]‘.

She was perhaps inspired by the onset of the spring season, imagining the thoughts that she would be having if, like Ron, she was far from home.

The poem has been added to the poems collection on this site. It also appears in the book The Casualties Were Small which contains over twenty of May’s poems as well as selected diary extracts, including those which suggest the background to each poem, accompanied by many nostalgic photographs.

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?

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