Poetry: Joan

Categories Poetry

This month in our Cornish poetry series, we have Melanie William’s touching poem about her aunt Joan.

Gingham not silk, linen not sable

Plain stitch and cross stitch

Displace embroidery.  All honest, simple practical

A frank face, impish smile, open heart,

Recall the early, stronger, taller Joan.


In childhood group, large-eyed

She looks on piercingly

A nimble, natural beauty, abjuring vanity.

In youth, through ‘undiscovered’ Cornwall

Joan spins by bicycle

And swims in home-spun suit

Her winning warmth a match for the icy sea.


A true, straight soul, bound to no time

But easy with all, Joan might have been a Pilgrim maidy

As a maid from Pool

Spirited to the States, her soldier soul-mate Ray

His smile as ready as each day were new

Shared fresh economies and a heart as true.


Returning to Cornwall

Joan, quick-stepping fairy

Kept a haven of neatness,

A corner of innocence

With her quick-walking beau.


Joan (nee Hosking) and Ray Hietpas are commemorated at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth. Items including Ray’s immaculate GI army jacket are on display. More information can be found by visiting the museum’s website here

If you enjoyed ‘Joan’, you can read and listen to more of our Cornish themed poems here.

Melanie Williams [nee Hosking] born in 1958 of [mostly] Cornish and Irish ancestry now lives in Wales with John Tudor, a retired Welsh doctor. Melanie was a 'school failure' but entered Cambridge to read Law at 27 followed by an MA in English Literature at Sussex University. From 2007- 2015 she was Head and Deputy Head of Law at Exeter University, much of this at the Tremough Campus in Cornwall. Melanie is Emeritus Professor of Law at Exeter University and has published a number of articles and two books on links between literature and law.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *