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Neill,
You rang, and I was immersed
In Persia, poetry flowed
Like desert hospitality 

Love of thought 
Crowded a small office,
Love of language lifted 
Stones from long dead dreams.
The Archive rang
Like Moscow bells

and fell quiet
and silent;
like your father, voiceless on the beach;

but only so the sail could catch another wind.

Neill,
You rang, and broke a long relentless hurricane
of dark days and dark times
Into light-filled harbours,
Sailing sound into
Unexpected places
Gazing into unfathomed waters,
anchored deep in music, art
And deeper still
In Eva.

Shaw, who brought us together
would be proud of himself somewhere,
arms folded;
But saddened 
and more silenced, now
that you have been lifted;
And more than a little
humbled.

No mean feat.

Thankyou.

 

 

[This poem was originally shared on the Planned Environment Therapy Trust website, with links to writings by Neill (see here), and with the explanation below:

Sometime probably in 2000 or 2001 the phone rang in the Archive, and I 'met' Neill Edwards, phoning from America. Neill was an ex-Red Hill School boy, an Englishman living then in Connecticut, whose father had been killed defusing a mine on Corton Sands in 1942. He wanted to talk about Otto Shaw and Red Hill School. It was a start of regular and usually very long and certainly very rich thread of phone calls which wound through his life and career; reading poetry he wrote many years earlier, as a telecommunications engineer travelling around and living among local people in Iran at the time of the Shah; reading new poems, and drafts of new poems; making the work of the Archive feel valued and significant during an extended, extremely difficult time; weaving art, science, philosophy, music, literature, and always Red Hill School into a compelling exploration of the possibilities of the future. He was a sailor, and when he moved with his late-in-life-found love Eva de Lourdes from the snow of New England to the sun and rain of Puerto Rico to take up her position at the University of Puerto Rico, it was in their boat; they sailed there together. Over time the phone calls moved from the Archive to home, and his extraordinarily expressive, deep voice became a regular part of the family. He didn't record. There was no phone call this year. When the hurricanes hit Puerto Rico, there was nothing from or about him. There were no recent Facebook posts from him. He had died in December, 2016. A small group of us discovered this in November 2017. Then this poem came. He was one of the people because of whom the Archive survived an immensely, protracted, difficult time.]