The Barcham Family


In 2016 Robyn Ramsay found this poem by Philip de la Mare Barcham. It was published in the 'Kia Ora Coo-ee' a magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East. Philip was Robyn’s maternal grandmother's [Violet Florence Barcham (Rowberry)] brother. Their mother was Constance De La Mare (Barcham), sister of Walter De La Mare. His WWI service is mentioned here

An Ode To Suez

By Day:  
O City of a thousand mysteries,
Whose progress ceased five hundred years ago,
Thou wouldst be better named 'Cosmopolis',
For streams from all the world towards thee flow.

Thy face is scarred by structures grim and stark
Whose mud-constructed walls offend the skies;
The only thing of beauty that thou hast
Is veiled and hidden from men's prying eyes,

Thy reeking thoroughfares like rivers are,
And eddying hosts of vari-coloured men
Drift at the will of Circumstance and Time,
To find a harbour far beyond our ken.

By Night:
When Luna's silvern beams shine from the skies
And bathe thy squalor in a soft toned shade,
Thy wretchedness is hid, and every lane
Re-echoes with some Arab serenade.

Behind thy casements women's voices croon
Their songs of love, in throaty minor keys,
The while their lords in drowsy languor dream,
And conjure from the past love's memories.

Strange to our Austral eyes thy minarets,
Thy veiled women and thine Eastern lays:
We leave them gladly, grieflessly, and yet,
Our memories must return to thee always.

Suez  Phil. de la M. Barcham, NZEF

[source Victoria University of Wellington]