Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Sea to the West

A greatly under-rated writer, I think, was the Anglican poet Norman Nicholson. Nicholson lived all his life in the industrial (and then post-industrial) town of Millom on the Cumberland Coast. He was therefore largely ignored by the metropolitan elite with the happy exception of T.S. Eliot who recognised his potential and signed him up for Faber & Faber.

My personal favourite among his books is his final poetry collection, Sea to the West, which is now sadly out of print. However, you can read (and hear) some of his poems here and here. He also wrote some wonderful prose works about the Lake District which are well worth seeking out.

Nicholson was a devout Anglican - and an editor of Pelican's wartime Anthology of Religious Verse - and there is no better example of his faith than the title poem of his final collection: 'Sea to the West'.

With one crucial change this poem provided the words for his own gravestone. He was buried with his wife and so the inscription reads:

Let our eyes at the last be blinded
Not by the dark
But by dazzle.

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