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[Typescript Poem] An Estray

  1. 00018955_0001
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Mary Webb. “An Estray.” Typescript poem, one leaf, 10″ x 8″, white wove watermarked paper. Sixteen lines in four stanzas, one ink correction. Using the imagery of a domesticated animal wandering lost and alone, Webb expresses her unhappiness: “Out of a land serene, / Airy and lone, / I am come to a sadness terrene, / To a people of stone.” Henry Webb attributed this poem to the spring term of 1916, when Henry taught at the King’s School in war-torn Chester as an assistant master for English, Latin, and History. The physical evidence of wartime activities in Chester, including trainloads of wounded soldiers returning to this important military base, caused Mary great distress, especially because her three brothers were then serving on the Western Front (Coles, Mary Webb, 1990, p. 69). Mary and Henry lived weekdays with her mother and unmarried sister, Olive, in the Cheshire county capital city, returning to their Shropshire cottage, “The Nills,” on weekends.