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[Manuscript Poem] “Safe”

  1. 00018539_0001
  2. 00018539_0002

Mary Webb. “Safe.” Manuscript poem, one leaf, 7″ x 4⅜″, on off-white wove watermarked paper, eleven lines in pencil with ink corrections. Webb’s uneven, scrawled handwriting—as much as the poem’s content—shows her declining health and despair toward the end of her life. Written on the verso in pencil is “Nation / Adelphi Terrace / Saturday Review / New Statesman.” The title (compared to the other lines of the poem) is in a slightly different handwriting style. As Webb’s health declined, her poetry took on an urgent, yearning undertone. Webb saw the beauty of the physical world with greater clarity, and her words convey a haunting sense of impermanence. Acknowledgement and appreciation for her writing was important to the very end of her life, as demonstrated by Webb’s continuing efforts, despite her failing health, to have her poems published in literary magazines and newspapers.