Life With Horace

poetry & essays

Licentia poetica


You were spinsters then
and from our blinkered perch
we saw two ancients
despite a force of nature stance
and razor gaze conviction
flavoring snail paced tours
through plays and poems
or god help us Hardy
our take on you parodic
not ready to imagine
the depths of passion
you would later find
in brilliant marriage
to a Bishop friend
become a lover
or cloud dancing pilot
pioneering aerobatic ace
a red and yellow blur
carving skies in perfect loops
tweeds and twinsets flung away
your lessons had such legs
and far from trudging through
dull furrowed fields in metered step
we learned to track
and slither catlike round each word
to seize intent and voice and pace
in short a brilliant Poets Ed
put to the test at last
with gratitude

For Joan Ford Rutt (Fordy) and Frances MacRae (Muck), who did all those things and more.

Author: Life With Horace

Poetry & Essays

6 thoughts on “Licentia poetica

  1. Hello Kathy, I’m astonished and delighted to find you: you know exactly who I knew (Miss Ford and Muck) and the same remarkable things about them, but I don’t think I remember you at all — you must have been in a different year. I left Channing after A-levels in 1972. I found this page after googling Frances McRae for the spelling…I’m writing a book/memoir with my sister Caroline and am just writing a bit about Miss McRae. I live in New Zealand now, my sister in Switzerland. And I’m a poet too. I very much like this piece: thanks for the memories and for tying these two remarkable women into our current writing endeavours.

    All the best, Vivian


    • Hello Vivian, how marvelous! a fellow Channing person from across time and considerable distance. No, we were not there together, I came to Channing in 1958 and left in 1963, to come back to America and university. Yes, Joan Ford and Frances McRae loomed large during my years there, and gave me a gift I was not aware of for a long time. Your book sounds interesting, let me know when it’s published. Was Caroline also at Channing? My youngest sister lives in New Zealand, on the south island. Glad you liked the poem — I would love to read yours. Is any of it available online?
      All the best, not Kathy, but Kate


  2. Hi Kate, I too have stumbled upon this page whilst googling Miss MacRae after seeing this BBC programme last week (Feb 2022). To check if my imagination was running riot, I asked a couple of other alumnae if they recognised anyone in the briefest of shots at c. 40 secs and 7:06 and 7:33 in?? They did – do you?
    This and your post, suggests Miss M was working for the BBC whilst teaching; and hello Vivian, I remember you and Caroline (same year) – greetings to you both.
    Incidentally, have you seen this, in which I think Caroline appears?

    Small world eh! And all the best, Helen


  3. Thanks Kate, I don’t know the answer to that, but the above link was posted in a Channing Alumnae newsletter in recent years and, I’m pretty confident (but memories can play tricks!) that I recall the original being filmed while I was at school (1964-71).
    Best wishes and stay safe.


    • Helen, I had no idea a link for the poem had been in the Alumnae newsletter. Yes, I was aware of the programme (just after my time as I left in 1963) — thought it might have been rebroadcast. You as well!


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