A nature poet
, a religious poet, and a playful
poet. She moved from bright
and glowing colours to earthy
Come out of the morning-glory’s bell.
Out of the rose and the peony,
You that made them, made so well
-- from 'O Come out of the Lily'
Ruth Pitter was born in Ilford
on 7 November 1897, lived by making furniture
s with her friend Kathleen O'Hara
, first in Chelsea
and then from 1952 from Long Crendon
was to become a neighbour), where she died on 29 February 1992.
Her books were
- First Poems, 1920
- First and Second Poems, 1927
- Persephone in Hades, 1931
- A Mad Lady's Garland, 1934
- A Trophy of Arms, 1936
- The Spirit Watches, 1939
- The Rude Potato, 1941
- Poem, 1943
- The Bridge, 1945
- Pitter on Cats, 1947
- Urania, 1950
- The Ermine, 1953
- Still by Choice, 1966
- Poems 1926-1966, 1968
- End of Drought, 1975
- A Heaven to Find, 1987
- Collected Poems (1990), 1990
Most of the volumes of the middle period were published by Cresset Press
in London, and they generally had illustrations by Joan Hassall
She won the Hawthornden Prize in 1937, the Queen’s Medal for Poetry in 1955, and the C.Lit. from the Royal Society of Literature in 1974; and she was made CBE in 1979.
She was noticed early in her career by Hilaire Belloc; she was a good friend of C.S. Lewis, whose wireless broadcasts brought her to religion; she helped the young George Orwell; she took communion with T.S. Eliot in Chelsea; and she was once greeted by Dylan Thomas with 'Come on, Miss Clever Pitter, let's find a pub that's open all night'.
Respect for her copyright is one reason I won't quote her extensively: the main reason is that I wouldn't know where to stop. Let me give you several lines plucked almost at random from some of her books.
Her feet were silvered in the dews,
Dew fell upon her darkling tree,
And washed the plain with whitish hues.
-- from 'The Eternal Image'
Though I shall never see the sudden turning
Into a sphery monstrance, globe of splendour,
The ecstasy that is beyond our learning
-- from 'The Captive Bird of Paradise'
Let it be so, if she, the nightingale,
The single star, the clear nocturnal bloom,
The fair delicious lily of the vale,
Stands glimmering through the gloom:
Let it be so, and hers the lamp shall be
To light the mystery.
-- from 'The Downward-Pointing Muse'
Instead of striking with hiss and quack
With love and liking he paid me back.
-- from 'Gosling'
At the white, gold, and crimson gate
I and my heart stand still and wait
-- from 'Lilies and Wine'