LETTE HESELTON (1916-1996)
She was born Letitia Brewer on 21 March 1916 in Hough Lane, Bramley, Leeds, the daughter of a bank manager. Her childhood was spent mostly in Bridlington and Scarborough. She attended Scarborough Girls' High School where she excelled at athletics. In 1936 she married Donald Robson, a Scarborough bank employee who later became City Manager for BACS in London. They had two children: a son born in 1937 and a daughter born in 1946.
In 1958 she moved to Bishopthorpe, near York, but returned in 1962 to Scarborough where she lived for over thirty years in a house overlooking the North York Moors National Park. She was devoted to her garden and the surrounding country, and these provided inspiration for many of her poems. Her favourite writers were John Keats, Rupert Brooke, John Masefield and the American poets Robert Frost and Robert Nathan.
She won second prize in the 1963 Yorkshire Post carol competition with `Carol for Christmas' and the following year `Jim', her brief tribute to country-and-western singer Jim Reeves, was broadcast on BBC radio and Radio Luxembourg.
In 1971 she won first prize in the Yorkshire Poets' Association annual competition with `The Park'. Her poem `Robin' was highly commended in the 1973 York Poetry Society competition.
She published four booklets:
`Wind in the Barley' - 16 poems (Breakthru, 1968) `Many Waters'- 25 poems (Outposts, 1975) `Where the Heart Is'- 33 poems (Newby Books, 1990) `Blown Leaves'- 47 poems (Newby Books, 1993).
Her work appeared in several magazines, and she contributed poems and articles to her local newspaper, the Scarborough Evening News.
Her pen name (pronounced Letty Hezl-ton) comes from her maternal grandmother Letitia Heselton.
She died in a Scarborough nursing home on 8 August 1996.
`Everything I Have of Worth', a collection of 248 poems, published on 14 January 1998, is a memorial to Lette Heselton's life and work.
Text and picture; courtesy of Belinda & Peter Robson.
FOR AN ANNIVERSARY '
You will not die, though summers flower
And music fills the empty year again.
When the last chord is still, the last note played,
Yours is the gentle voice that will remain.
You will not die while we can hear you sing,
Or be forgotten as so many others are,
Your light will shine through our remembering,
O well-beloved and most enduring star.
Published in `Everything I Have of Worth', page 98, - copyright Belinda & Peter Robson 1998
(July 31, 1964)
They say that grief goes over
and I daresay it may,
but that doesn't ease the heartache
that haunts me today.
To sleep with the sound of
your voice in my ears,
to wake and to remember
through a mist of tears.
To walk in a morning
of warm summer sun
and know that you will never
see another one.
O, hush away the music,
there will never be
another song so lovely,
another voice for me.
Published in `Everything I Have of Worth', page 99, - copyright Belinda & Peter Robson 1998
'A SONGBIRD CALLED JIM REEVES'
There was once a great and kindly ruler who lived in a house built on a high hill. His kingdom stretched north, south, east and west as far as the eye could see. The rivers were sparkling and teeming with fish; the fields dancing with grain; the trees and flowers, animals and birds of every colour, size and shape and all of infinite beauty. In spite of this, the people quarrelled and fought many cruel wars. The king stood at his window gazing sadly down on all his sunlit land. 'What do they want, ' he asked despairingly. 'They have food and water, land to work and children to give them joy, yet still they find no peace. Black fights white, and white fights yellow and the poor redskins have no spirit left to fight at all. I have sent my politicians and my diplomats, my missionaries and my bishops, but to no avail. What more then can I do?' He wandered into his garden, his eyes perplexed and troubled.
Now among the king's treasures was a songbird with a voice of such extraordinary sweetness that all who heard it marvelled at the sound. The gardeners rested on their spades to listen and the other birds. fell silent. 'Brown Bird', said the king, 'what am I to do? I have given my people every good and precious thing, yet still they will not live together in kindliness and understanding. Now I have nothing left to give but you'. 'Then' said the bird, 'give me. I do not speak their many tongues, so no one will argue with me. I have no lands to make them envious and if they choose to fight, then who would do battle with a brown bird. All I can do is sing. Send me and I will sing to them'. The king's heart was heavy at the prospect of his lonely, silent garden; and yet .... 'They are my people' , he thought, ' and I love them. Surely when they hear him singing they will listen and find joy'.
And so it came about. The king said farewell and the bird stretched out his strong wings, circled high in the air and flew away. News of his arrival spread quickly through the land so that wherever he went, men came from far and wide to listen. Black and white, yellow and brown and red, their arguments stilled, their differences cast aside and forgotten. And so it was, as spring followed winter and the years sped past until at last the king decided, 'My messenger has travelled many weary miles and sung to countless people in many lands. It is time he returned to the garden where he can live in the branches of the blossoming trees and sing in peace.'
So it happened one day, that as the bird flew into a summer storm, he heard above the tumult of the wind and rain the voice of the king. Strong and clear from the castle on the hill he called, 'Brown bird, your work is done. It is time to come home'. Over all the countryside a silence fell and a great sadness filled the hearts of all who had listened to the joyful singing.
And the king, being compassionate as well as wise, spoke to his people in this way.. 'Be comforted, for where there are hearts there is room for love to grow. Where there is love there is remembering. And where men share a happy memory, there they have a friend' . And so it has been since then.
July 31st 1964 - July 31st 1974.
Written for the 10th anniversary of Jim's passing in 1974 and printed in issue 35, page 6, of the (British Offical Jim Reeves)fan club magazine dated October 1974. - copyright Lette Heselton.