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A happy spirit
The story behind the poem

This is the story of a little girl, the daughter of  close friends of our family. She was a bright, happy creature, always friendly and eager. She taught me that the stalks of pink sorrel taste like vinegar, and I apparently inspired her with an interest in tumble-polishing semi-precious stones (carnelians, agates, citrines) which she hunted for in the shingle of the beach near her family's holiday cottage.

I spent a few days in this cottage once on my own, in winter, at a difficult time of my life. It was then that I wrote this poem, which arose from the pain I felt at the girl's tragic end. Aged nine and in perfect health, she choked one lunchtime and went into a coma from which she never emerged.

by Damaris West

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