This hemming-and-hawing exactly parallels my own attraction to Milly. I read Hilary Spurling's biography of Ivy Compton-Burnett; I stumbled over the excerpts from Milly's work; I thought, "Hmm. These aren't bad"; I finished the book and stuck it back onto the bookshelf. But days later, I couldn't quite forget Milly's words, so I took the book back off the shelf and read them again. I cannot argue that her poems are great literature, yet there is something about them--something mysterious and sad, and very fragile--that lingers in the mind. And it seems that this lingering is true for other readers as well.
The story doesn't yet have a happy ending: by the time I'd heard again from the editor, I'd already submitted the essay to a different journal, and I need to wait for that response. But it does seem that, in one venue or another, Milly's story will eventually have a larger readership than this blog.
So in celebration of her small voice, here is today's poem:
Unseen BeautyMilly JourdainI hear the distant sound of birdsAll singing in the dusk of springUntil the air is tremulous,And mists about the river cling.It makes me sad to think of allThe beauty that is still unknown,The flowers budding in the night,The open fields where winds have blown.The air grows cold, the birds are still,And only, in the fading light,Along the streets a shivering windBlows from the unseen quiet night.