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Softly my love, steal to my heart

A day is done, a dream is lost

A girl -- or a dream?

Come to me, smile to me

Proud owner of a mind

The sun sets

What fatal force

What seekest thou, oh Soul

Spied a girl a spot so gay

Carefree once

Epilogue

Index of First Lines

"Anne"

I graduated in Electrical Engineering from Melbourne University in 1954, and in February 1955 I took up a graduate apprenticeship with the English Electric Co at Rugby, UK, where I hoped to become an expert in atomic power.

However I found that the company was positively medieval in it's outlook and methods, and the only atomic power station they ever built had failed disastrously not long before I arrived. In July I managed to transfer to their Mechanical Engineering Laboratory at Whetstone, near Leicester, where I worked on governors for water turbines.

I was still deeply troubled by the accidental destruction of my personal faith some years earlier, and now also by the realisation that I would never achieve my dream of becoming an expert in atomic power. There were no other Australians at Whetstone, and I was desperately lonely, but also seriously lacking in the social skills needed to form a lasting relationship.

I got to know one of the girls in the office, and courted her with a desperate intensity, but inevitably I soon frightened her off, and this threw me into the depths of despair.

Most of these poems were written between August 1955, when I first got to know her, and May 1956, when we finally separated. The last few poems were written in 1959, when I was studying German at Melbourne University part-time, and eventually found the inspiration to overcome my personal problems in Goethe's Urfaust.

 

Roger Riordan 2005.

 

(The Occasional Address I gave at Newcastle University in April 2005, when I was awarded an Honorary Degree, gives more information about this period in my life.)

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 © Roger Riordan 2004-2017