Dedication to a dear friend
By Julie Leibrich
I was in the studio looking for a poem by my dear friend, Betty Munnoch.
Just before her death in 2002 we made a book of her poetry for her family.
When I opened it, a forgotten thank-you note fell out. In it she used the enigmatic phrase my onlie begetter, which comes from the dedication in the first folio of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Betty’s favourite poems.
This was the first sonnet which came to me, spontaneously, in complete form. I have made many edits, as I do, but it was always a sonnet at heart.
Today I found you waiting in a book.
That note you wrote so many years ago.
‘My onlie begetter’ you called me then, but look,
now you are mine with all that you bestow.
Of course you died. Of course you don’t live on,
but thought and word can turn into a deed
which makes us brave enough to crave the sun.
We always said that poets had a creed.
You stayed with me in grief to ease the pain.
You promised me you’d never go away.
My soul-friend to the end, you live again.
You stopped me in the studio today.
Your shadow leant to whisper in my ear:
‘Love will always cross the last frontier.’