Power of Names

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Come, dear children, let us away.

Down and away below.

Now my brothers call from the bay;

Now the great winds shorewards blow;

Now the salt tides seawards flow;

Now the wild white horses play,

Champ and chafe and toss in the spray.

Children dear, let us away.

This way, this way

Call her once before you go.

Call once yet.

In a voice that she will know:

‘Margaret! Margaret!’

Children’s voices should be dear

(Call once more) to a mother’s ear:

Children’s voices wild with pain.

Surely she will come again.

Call her once and come away.

This way, this way.

‘Mother dear, we cannot stay.’

The wild white horses foam and fret.

Margaret! Margaret!

Extract from The Forsaken Merman by Matthew Arnold.

Can you hear the children’s voices crying out in pain, the howl of the great winds and the crash of the waves?  Every time I hear the lines

“Margaret! Margaret!

Children’s voices should be dear

(Call once more) to a mother’s ear”

I hear my mother’s voice as she quoted them from memory, adding that my name was inspired by her love for this poem. There have been a number of times over the years when I was afraid I would be like the fickle Margaret of the poem. She loved her home and the land and the sun more than she loved the merman and her own children, and left them, never to return. But I battled my demons and stayed. And now I’m glad I did.

I remember Mom telling me about the poem, but Dad doesn’t remember any such tale and Mom is no longer here to ask. He says I was named after his Aunt. Aunt Mag was a distant figure in a distant land whom I never met nor even wanted to meet until it was too late. When she died, I was a teenager, and she left me a ring (which I lost) and a bee brooch (which I treasure to this day). She never married and Dad says she was awarded an OBE or some such award for work that she did during the Second World War. I would rather be like her than the Margaret of the poem.

I have another name: Anne with an E. I was always careful to mention the E when I was a child lest the person I was speaking to leave me without that all important letter. It seemed to me to make my little Anne a touch better than the commoners without it. I don’t know where that name came from, but I discovered recently that my mother’s younger sister has the same second name and with the same spelling. Perhaps they wanted to honour her when I was born. Or they just liked the name Anne.

Written in response to the Daily Post challenge: Power of Names

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