Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Poetry - Anna Gordon Keown

Anna Gordon Keown was a novelist & poet who is now almost completely forgotten. The introduction to her Collected Poems, published in 1953, was written by Siegfried Sassoon, so she obviously had a reputation in her lifetime (she died in 1957). Looking her up, I find that she was married to Dr Philip Gosse (son of Edmund) & she wrote a comic novel called The Cat who Saw God (1932), about a cat possessed by the Emperor Nero who goes to live with a fussy English spinster. Has anyone read this? It sounds wonderful!
I also discovered that this lovely sonnet, Reported Missing, is often studied in schools in the UK, although this is the first time I've come across it.

My thought shall never be that you are dead:
Who laughed so lately in this quiet place.
The dear and deep-eyed humour of that face
Held something ever-living, in Death's stead.
Scornful I hear the flat things they have said
And all their piteous platitudes of pain.
I laugh! I laugh! -- For you will come again -
This heart would never beat if you were dead.
The world's adrowse in twilight hushfulness,
There's purple lilac in your little room,
And somewhere out beyond the evening gloom
Small boys are culling summer watercress.
Of these familiar things I have no dread
Being so very sure you are not dead.


  1. Wonderful, moving poem, but I have to say I was totally distracted by the cat possessed by Nero and I rushed straight off to google it. The first thing to pop up was this review from The Spectator in 1932 ( "Emperor into Cat is the latest variant upon the theme of Lady into Fox, and by no means the most convincing. Miss Keown's book is little to our taste, erring often upon the side of archness and a mock profundity ; but she has an original mind, and, however she may misuse her gift, she is obviously a born writer." *Ouch*. That will not stop me tracking it down, obviously.

    1. Simon (Stuck in a Book) is sorry that he didn't know about the book before as it would have been perfect for his thesis! Of course, as he says, he'll find lots of books he could have used now that his thesis is finished. It does sound odd & I'm not as big a fan of fantasy as Simon but let me know if you find a copy.