In 1985 I went to Oxford University, where I fell in love for the second time in my life, With a pretty, chestnut-haired scholarship student and devout Christian called Ruth Eleanor Butler, who studied Japanese. Neither my time in college nor the love story were a success, but they did leave behind some decent verse.
To me you are a little thing of beauty
Grown like a flower; gentle as the green;
And graceful and as infinitely pretty
As infinite small things amidst the blooms.
Ruth my much-loved, Ruth who smile,
And who speak softly and who work out your day
And sleep the night, and whom nobody hates,
Ruth whose life is as clean as mountain streams -
To me you are almost a small angel
Clear like a candle flame and ever young,
Born out of distant lands deprived of dirt;
You're lovely, Ruth; and lovely is all you are.
A couple of years later, shortly before I met Debbie Wallace, I wrote this:
I remember that I did remember; not the pain, but the memory of pain,
Of a part of myself that is dead and shall never return to me again.
All the hopes I have put in my loving, all the things that I tried to no avail,
All the pain that I gave and I suffered, all the reasons I knew made me fail,
They are gone which I knew to be important, so important and precious indeed
That I'd rather live on with the wound than be healed of the wound and not bleed.
Yes, forgotten! All things that have life will be gone and forgotten at last,
For them past rushes by and forgets and falls in on its own fallen past.
Yet the pain that was suffered was suffered, and the beauties once loved still exist
And the passing of time doesn't change them, and the truth of their truth will persist
Though my memory, my feeble servant, the most bad slothful child of my brain
Cannot carry that love on its shoulders, nor bring beauty to me back again.
And that point in time never shall stop being, though it has points before and behind
When I loved you, remembered and cherished, when your dear image lived in my mind -
Did I love you? No, Ruth, you are loved now, this is true as it ever was true,
Because neither love ever was false nor the reason and cause to love you;
And 'fore God thousand-eyed, thousand-seeing, one in future, and present, and past,
No destruction exists of what passes, and all things are returned back at last!