An Elegy

“Jean, my elder sister has died after a difficult six months for her and her children. At her funeral last week in Devon, Amanda, her eldest, my niece and goddaughter read the following poems. They are quite beautiful and profound for us all in our own lives, as we live each day.” Sally Campbell

IF –

I should live a long, long time, and hold honesty of conscience above honesty of purse;
And turn aside without ostentation to aid the weak;
And treasure ideals more than ambitions;
And track no man to his undeserved hurt;
And pursue no woman to her tears;
And love the beauty of mist-veiled mountains – blossoming valleys – winding rivers – and azure seas;
And when swinging in the topmost branches of lofty trees –
See visions of beautiful things.

IF –
I should live a long, long time and, keeping faith of all these things hour by hour,
Still see the golden sun behind the clouds, – and the moon floating in dream silver;
You may be proud of me –
I shall be worthy of your esteem –
I shall have lived not in vain.

A Nomad’s Ghost

I left within the house where once I lived – a part of me:
Within those walls forever shall there be the heart of me;
Upon those narrow stairs a ghost of me shall tread
Upon those floors,
My feet shall dance!
My eager hands will touch remembered doors.
And though I dwell three thousand miles away
And should I find
Contentment bound by other walls and roofs
Not so strong and kind.
Within that house, where once I lived and loved,
And laughed and cried
I left a tiny portion of my soul – walled up inside.

Poems by Gwynn Turner Shepperd
June 1935