Friday 23 March 2018

Poetry: Charming poet who found the beauty in rain

Winifred Letts
Winifred Letts

Ulick O'Connor

I was a great admirer of the poet ­Winifred Letts but had never met her. I begged my friend Monk ­Gibbon, the poet, to arrange a ­meeting. He was close to her and ­actually acted as messenger between her and the immortal Yeats.

Winifred had a world reputation but like many others, she hadn't that much praise showered on her at home. But there is no doubt she was that rare species, a true poet.

Her poems appealed so much to the great composer Charles Villiers Stanford that he set many of them to music.

I was over the moon when Monk finally arranged a visit to Winifred Letts at the Dún Laoghaire Nursing Home. I thought her charming and still able to quote from the many poems that she had in her head.

She had no side whatsoever and never even tried to boast of the famous poets and composers she knew.

I told her I was a great fan of her poetry, in particular 'A Soft Day', which turned rain into something some people might like.

She gave a tinkling little laugh and said: "No matter, the important thing is that you like my poem."

Don't you think its title could only have been invented in Ireland?

A Soft Day

A soft day, thank God!

A wind from the south

With a honeyed mouth;

A scent of drenching leaves,

Briar and beech and lime,

White elder-flower and thyme

And the soaking grass smells sweet,

Crushed by my two bare feet,

While the rain drips,

Drips, drips, drips from the eaves.

A soft day, thank God!

The hills wear a shroud

Of silver cloud;

The web the spider weaves

Is a glittering net;

The woodland path is wet,

And the soaking earth smells sweet

Under my two bare feet,

And the rain drips,

Drips, drips, drips from the leaves.

Winifred Letts 1882-1972



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