Letter from Ursula Vaughan Williams to Michael and Eslyn Kennedy

Letter No.: 
[14th December 1956]

The Beauchamp Tomb at Worcester Cathedral.

Make me an effigy and let it wear
my living, sleeping face.  Fold my hands in prayer
and shape stone pearls to bind and net my hair;
my stateliest dress spread out to fold and flare
brocaded summer to the chantry air;
all that adorns my life shall, echoed, share
the long endurance of my beauty there.
And when my husband comes to claim his bed
in his stone likeness, I will have it said
he seeks a woman in whose sleep still shows
his other self, who was his noonday rose.
There let my head lie pillowed evermore
on a swan’s wing, in sable heraldry,
- night feathered singer of a single song
floating on time where our drowned shadows lie.
Let my love’s head rest on another wing,
my swan shall stay for his by this aisled shore,
for side by side our effigies belong;
at this rejoining all the bells shall sing.
Memorial beauty, alabaster sleep,
in ceremony we meet with death to keep
our marriage vows, and here we shall arise
clothed for the courts of heaven and for each other’s eye

With love from Ursula.


Location of original letter:

Shelfmark of original letter: 
MS Mus. 159, f.143
General notes: 

Typewritten, signed. Date taken from postmark. The poem was included in UVW’s collection Silence and Music, 1959 and reprinted in The collected poems of Ursula Vaughan Williams, 1996, p.129.

Original database number: