Like so many contemporary poets of her time, Elizabeth Jennings, attended Oxford, fell in love with poetry and soon began to write. After graduation from St. Ann’s College—Oxford, Jennings became a librarian. Her first collection of poetry was published in 1953. Throughout her life Jennings published over 20 volumes of poetry. Linked with Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin and Thom Gunn, in a group known as “The Movement,” Jennings’ work stood out for its “unassuming technical craft and emotional restraint.” A practicing Catholic, Jennings is seen as having a spiritual nature. Throughout the 1960s she was hailed as one of the most popular English poets. Her work won her consistent praise and awards—The W.H. Smith Literary Award and the Somerset Maugham Award being two of the most significant. Jennings died in 2001.
Of what our world waited for.
In Memory of Anyone Unknown to Me
At this particular time I have no one
Particular person to grieve for, though there must
Be many, many unknown ones going to dust
Slowly, not remembered for what they have done
Or left undone. For these, then, I will grieve
Being impartial, unable to deceive.
How they lived, or died, is quite unknown,
And, by that fact gives my grief purity—
An important person quite apart from me
Or one obscure who drifted down alone.
Both or all I remember, have a place.
For these I never encountered face to face.
Sentiment will creep in. I cast it out
Wishing to give these classical repose,
No epitaph, no poppy and no rose
From me, and certainly no wish to learn about
The way they lived or died. In earth or fire
They are gone. Simply because they were human, I admire.