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Selected Poems

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Hutchinson, London, 1970
(price: 60p 12s; 60 pages)

dedication: To my husband

The blurb on the back:

This selection from the poems of Mary Wilson, wife of Harold Wilson, has been made by herself from those she has written over many years. They reflect the compassion of a serious, kindly and sensitive woman who derives great joy and consolation from the poetry of others and is moved, by all sorts of varying experiences, to express her own views in the same medium. Very many people, to whom poetry and its writing may be something of an intimidating mystery, will gain an understanding and appreciation of it from Mary Wilson's reflective writing.

Back at the turn of the 1970s, Mary Wilson was not only married to the Leader of Her Majesty's Labour Party, but was also one of the best-selling poets in the country, up there with the likes of Marc Bolan and Bob Dylan. In those pre-Pam Ayres days, poetry wasn't a mass participation sport like it is now - as you can tell from the defensiveness of the sleeve notes - and Wilson was one of the first to bring it out of academia and back into the parlour. The hardback editions of this book sold an extraordinary 75,000 copies.

Mostly she did simple little rhythms and rhymes that didn't push a reader too hard. This is one of the best from this volume:

After the Bomb

After the Bomb had fallen,
After the last sad cry
When the Earth was a burnt-out cinder
Drifting across the sky,

Came Lucifer, Son of the Morning,
With his fallen-angel band,
Silent and swift as a vulture
On a mountain-top to stand.

And he looked, as he stood on the mountain
With his scarlet wings unfurled,
At the charnel-house of London
And the cities of the world.

And he laughed..........

And as that mocking laughter
Across the heavens ran,
He cried 'Look!' to the fallen angels -
'This is the work of Man
Who was made in the image of God!'

Oh alright then, she wasn't a great poet, but hell, wouldn't you rather have her living in Downing Street than the Alien Cherie?