A Jar of Kisses and a Spoon of Honey

Image of Evelyn Nettlefold as a child

Hi! I’m Will Moran and I am currently the Creative Writing Intern at Winterbourne House and Garden, and a recent BA English and Creative Writing graduate from the University of Birmingham.

This poem, ‘Evelyn’, is inspired by John Byam Liston Shaw’s portrait of Evelyn, aged twelve, with her pony Tom-Tit (a reproduction is on display in the hall).

photograph of Evelyn Nettlefold with her pony tom-tit

Evelyn with Tom-Tit

In this poem, I wrote from Evelyn’s perspective, presenting her as beginning to look outside of her family and develop her own sense of self. Whilst she has great love for her family, represented by the jar of kisses she and her siblings would sign at the end of letters to their parents, she also wishes to discover the world for herself.

Scan of one of Evelyn's letters to her parents featuring an illustration of a jar full of kisses

One of Evelyn’s letters

In later life, Evelyn became an advocate for social welfare, like her father, and I wanted to represent her consciousness of the world around her and her place in it through this poem.

Evelyn

After John Byam Liston Shaw

Come, Tom-Tit. Let us leave this place

for a while. We’ll leave behind a note

with a jar of kisses and a spoon of honey

to keep Papa sweet. We’ll jump the fence,

through the foxglove-gate, the pink and white

will give way to the fallen leaves, the young

trees. We’ll ride until we find the ancients

and let their huge branches lift into the sky,

through the soft clouds until they break

and soak our skin. We’ll have the sun

in our hearts and be free.

Will you take me, Tom-Tit?

I want to be very much alive.

Will Moran, 2022

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