On the passing of a poet’s muse

Joan Jackson, née Hunter Dunn (1915–2008)

Last week saw the passing, aged 92, of John Betjeman‘s muse. Joan Jackson (née Hunter Dunn) was immortalised in the poet’s “A Subaltern’s Love-song” from 1941:

Miss J Hunter Dunn, Miss J Hunter Dunn,
Furnish’d and burnish’d in Aldershot sun,
What strenuous singles we played after tea,
We in the tournament – you against me!

I can most definitely see what the poet saw in this doctor’s daughter and clueless catering manager from Farnborough in Hampshire. Such a wonderful, happy smile she has in the picture above. There is strength and beauty there in abundance, just as Betjeman said.

Listen here to Betjeman reading his poem to an audience that had to remind him of the title. And here is a very nice obituary of Betjeman’s inspiration and love that never was.

Hat tip: Katy Evans-Bush