The second of Bowra’s so-called poems which is about Paddy’s relationship with Joan. The full explanation can be found in the preceding article – here.
The first ‘poem’ – The Wounded Gigolo – has started some very interesting debate in the comments section. Why not join in that debate here, and also discuss On the Coast of Terra Fermoor in the comment section at the end of this article?
A link to the section of Henry Hardy’s website where he has buried the poems with some accompanying footnotes is here.
On the Coast of Terra Fermoor
On the coast of Terra Fermoor, when the wind is on the lea,
And the paddy-fields are sprouting round a morning cup of tea,
Sits a lovely girl a-dreaming, and she never thinks of me.
No, she never thinks of me
At her morning cup of tea,
Lovely girl with moon-struck eyes,
Juno fallen from the skies,
At the paddy-fields she looks
Musing on Tibetan books,
On the Coast of Terra Fermoor high above the Cretan Sea.
Melting rainbows dance around her – what a tale she has to tell,
How Carmichael, the Archangel, caught her in the asphodel,
And coquetting choirs of Cherubs loudly sang the first Joel,
Loudly sang the first Joel
To their Blessed Damozel.
Ah, she’s doomed to wane and wilt
Underneath her load of guilt;
She will never, never say
What the Cherubs sang that day,
When the Wise Men came to greet her and a star from heaven fell.
Ah, her memory is troubled by a stirring of dead bones,
Bodies that a poisoned poppy froze into a heap of stones;
When the midnight voices call her, how she mews and mopes and moans.
Oh the stirring of the bones
And their rumble-tumble tones,
How they rattle in her ears
Over the exhausted years;
Lovely bones she used to know
Where the tall pink pansies blow
And her heart is sad because she never saw the risen Jones.
Cruel gods will tease and taunt her: she must always ask for more,
Have her battlecock and beat it, slam the open shuttledore,
Till the Rayners17 cease from reigning in the stews of Singapore.
She will always ask for more,
Waiting for her Minotaur;
Peering through the murky maze
For the sudden stroke that slays,
Till some spirit made of fire
Burns her up in his desire
And her sighs and smiles go floating skyward to the starry shore.
10 June 1950