Week 75: From ‘A Welsh Childhood’ by Alice Thomas Ellis

Occasionally one comes across a piece of writing so raw and private that to reproduce it seems a kind of trespass, yet one must assume that by publishing it the author wished it to be shared. Such I deem to be the case with this extract from ‘A Welsh Childhood’ by Alice Thomas Ellis, the pen name of Anna Haycraft, concerning the death of her son Joshua, killed in his teens by a fall.

We were living here when our second son, Joshua, died, and his death formed a hinge in existence. Everything that had happened before led up to it, and everything that has happened since is only afterwards. He lies in the graveyard across the fields and one day I shall lie beside him and it won’t matter any more. I do not know how people contain such pain. His father wrote this epitaph for him:

Joshua Haycraft
who died 21 May 1978
aged nineteen years
after a fall

IOSVE
CVI.PRAECIPITI.DECIDENTI
NON.STETIT.SOL
SED.PRAECEPS.OCCIDIT
SOLIBUS.REDEVTIBVS
IPSE.REDITVRVS
IN.NOMINE.IESV
NOMINE.TVO
CARISSIME.DULCISSIME.
RESVRGES

Joshua
for whom the sun
did not stand still
but as you fell headlong
so set for you,
as suns return
you too, most sweet beloved
will return
and in the name of him
whose name is yours
rise again.

Alice Thomas Ellis