Found - an album of poems among books and ephemera from the St. Clair Erskine family - sons of Lord Rosslyn (1869-1939) whose Calcot Park and Hunger Hill visitors book we covered recently. These were written by Antonia Mary Kelly (1920? - 1965) of Irish descent and the daughter of Admiral Sir John Donald Kelly. She married David Simon St. Clair-Erskine in 1948 and divorced him in 1958. They had one son. There is a small amount information about her online, mostly garnered from gossip columns and peerage sites. In 1938 at the age of 18 she launched a warship (destroyer) called 'The Kelly' and she seems, on the evidence of these poems, to have worked at the Foreign Office during World War 2. There is a photo of her (below) on her wedding day in The Sketch 1948; she wore hyacinths in her hair, the best man was the Hon W.K. Davison and the priest was Father J. Bevan (indicating a Roman Catholic service) at the Brompton Oratory.
Her poems written between 1933 and 1947 are mostly highly competent, some are passionate love poems. Many are amusing or satirical and some quite worldly for a young woman of the time - at 16 she wrote these 'Lines Written during a Meagre & Modernist Dinner Party' :
Oh, You may have the chromium,
Glass tables and steel chairs,
Drink cocktails & eat things off sticks
…I like the taste of old Claret
Rolling round my tongue,
I like to know when my dinner's served
By the note of a brazen gong..
The following poem has echoes of the war in the Balkans and concerns rivalry between the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the Secret Intelligence Service (S.I.S) now known as M.I.6. Any more info on the life of this poet or a photo are welcome.
Ballade of an Unexpected Collaboration
Ref JIC. 1172/43
Hush! Be it whispered in the inner ear-
A barque is nearing the Illyrian shore,
(But backwards so her course shall not be clear)
With darkling hull & deadened, muffled oar.
Softly the breeze plays o'er the Aegean sea:
Forgetting dog fights they have had of yore,
Quoting long excerpts from the code-book's lore,
T'is S.I.S. plays ball with S.O.E.
Cloaked well, & daggered, see they quit the barque;
Inspect the beach – ha! they have found a spoor!
It is a barefoot, an intriguer's mark :
Some double agent passed this way before!
While one is warming up the T.N.T.
The other's wireless reports (C.4)
"We have arrived. No time just now for more,
For S.I.S. plays ball with S.O.E."
Lo, how the flames from Bucharest are bright!
Hark to the transmitter upon the shore!
The bridge across the Danube went last night;
The Iron Gates themselves are no more;
The Partizans are fighting gallantly -
Although t'is sad that their red blood should pour,
We might have known there'd be a Balkan war
If S.I.S. played ball with S.O.E.
Prince, need we have your Balkan intrigue now,
Just when the entente works so splendidly?
Superfluous your artifice, I vow
When S.I.S plays ball with S.O.E.