All posts tagged Death of Will Hill

June 1944
Council Houses.

I am the fly in the Amber,

The exception that proves the rule.

Tho’ I mayn’t knock nails in the Council’s walls,

I plug them with handy tool.

I am growing grass on the garden plot,

Where the others grow lettuce and peas.

The rest of them wash on Monday;

I wash when I please.

Oh! the neighbours are kind, and the house is good,

The rent is small and the garden large.

Apple trees stand in an ordered square,

The paths are smooth and the view is fair,

Surely there’s nothing to wish for there.

Well, I’d like a bath-room, however small,

But what I really want, most of all,

Is an evergreen hedge that is six feet tall,

Growing all round my garden plot,

That I can wander behind,

And dig, or laze in contented ease,

Sowing my seeds just when I please,

Breaking the rules at my own sweet will

With no one to give me advice.

M.H. June 1944

‘Council Houses’ was written in the month after May and daughter Jean had moved into ‘Council House No 3’ on Skegness Road on 10th May (see 3rd June 1944). The poem alludes to unwanted gardening advice from new neighbours (see 4th June 1944). The move from their home at ‘Lenton Lodge’ in Anderby Road was necessitated by the death of May’s husband Will on 29th March (see 15th April 1944).

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’?

Ap. 15. 1944

32 years ago to-day, on just such a sunny April Day. To-day I write these beautiful words that so well sum up his life to March 29, 1944.

(An envoy from the French word envoi, means the verses at the end of a poem in which some general idea of the poem is summed up and emphasised. The envoy is thus the message which the poem has carried to the reader. Here it is a way of saying that the life to which this is the envoy had been of itself a poem.) by Charlotte Becker.

Say not, because he did no wondrous deed
Amassed no worldly gain,
Wrote no great book, revealed no hidden truth,
Perchance he lived in vain.

For there was grief within a thousand hearts
The hour he ceased to live;
He held the love of women and of men:
Life has no more to give!

Will Hill, looking relaxed, around Easter 1943

Will Hill, looking relaxed, around Easter 1943

May Hill’s husband Will died on 29th March 1944 following the brief illness which was first mentioned in the Diary entry of 24th March 1944.

15th April 1912 was Will and May’s Wedding Day.

Charlotte Becker’s ‘Envoy’ was published in‘The Poets and Poetry of Buffalo’, ed. James N Johnston, p426, Buffalo, New York, 1904 (currently in the public domain) having earlier been published in Munsey’s Magazine, New York, 1903 and the Saturday Evening Post, Philadelphia, 1904). The full book text has been contributed by University of California Libraries to an ‘Internet Archive’: It can be downloaded in various modern formats including the most popular e-book formats.

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