A novelist, poet, biographer, critic and editor, Valerie was a perceptive observer of human nature and a tireless enthusiast for life and literature.
I have the task of writing Valerie's obituary for The Independent; but, in the meantime, I'd like to share with you one of her poems that elegantly sums up her sanguine philosophy and her indomitable spirit...
Sing a Song at Sixty
It is too late alas to learn a musical instrument,
To become a downhill racer on skis or compete at Wimbledon;
I shall never be able to read Dostoevsky in the original.
I have not won any cups for achievement,
And so many things I dreamed of will never happen:
I shall never achieve my own chat show on television,
Or dissolve gracefully into artful tears, clutching my Oscar.
I must reconcile myself to clothing which is
Comfortable rather than glamorous,
And acknowledge that hair dye after sixty is usually a mistake.
I refuse to lament the loss of my beauty and my slender waist,
Instead I will be grateful that I retain my teeth,
More metal than ivory, it must be frankly admitted,
Propped, pinned, posted and padded with plastic,
But I can still eat with them.
I will be glad that that I was not born in the Dark Ages
Before the invention of spectacles. I will not agonize
Over tests I have failed, but will concentrate on remembering
The ones I have passed, and the people who have loved me.
It is futile to lie awake brooding over old animosities.
It is time to forgive one’s parents, and to contemplate the young
Not with envy but with tender concern and generosity,
Betraying no awareness of how vulnerable they are.- Valerie Grosvenor Myer
[Image: © Brian Sibley, 2007]