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[Typescript Poem] “Swallows”

  1. 00018596_0001
  2. 00018596_0002

Mary Webb. “Swallows.” Typescript poem, one leaf, 5¼″ x 5½″, off-white laid paper, mounted on white ruled paper of slightly larger size. Fourteen lines in two stanzas, but pencil marks indicate that the two stanzas are to be drawn together as one. The title is written in black ink, and appears to have been added at a later date. “Swallows” is one of Webb’s finest Shakespearian sonnets, written when her health was failing and she felt intimations of her early death. Webb’s use of metaphor and her naturalist's knowledge combine to invest this poem with power and poignancy. Yet there is hope and uplift in the last line of the closing couplet: “Within my spirit is a voice that grieves / Reminding me of empty Autumn skies. / . . . We sing our song in beauty’s fading tree, / And flash forth, migrant, into mystery.”