Thursday, 31 January 2019

Eva Dobell (1876 – 1963) - British poet and WW1 VAD

Following on from my post on 20thAugust 2014, here is a little more information about Eva.

Eveline Jessie Dobell, known as Eva, was born on 30th January 1876 in Charlton Kings, Gloucestershire, UK. Her parents were Wine Merhant and local historian Clarence Mason Dobell from Cheltenham, and his wife Emily Ann, nee Duffield.  Victorian poet Sydney Dobell (1824 – 1874) was Eva’s uncle. Eva had the following siblings: Clarence Brian, b. 1870 and Walter Duffield, b. 1872.

Eva joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) on 5th November 1914. She served as a nurse at The Priory Hospital, Gloucester, which opened on 5th November 1914. 

Eva served during WW1 until 15th November 1917.  Her experiences during WW1 inspired her poetry.




Eva's Red Cross VAD Record Card



The Priory Hospital, Gloucester

After the war, Eva continued to write, publishing poetry collections and a verse drama. She also edited a book of poems by Lady Margaret Sackville.

Eva died in Cheltenham on 3rd September 1963.

Eva’s poetry collection ”A Bunch of Cotswold Grasses: Poems” was published by Stockwell in 1919 and “Verses Old and New” was published by P. Favil in 1959.

Sources:

“English Poetry of the First World War:  A Bibliography” by Catherine W. Reilly (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 112;  Find my Past,  The British Red Cross data base of WW1 VADs and
http://www.remembering.org.uk/vad_priory.htm

Photograph Eva Dobell in uniform, WW1 - photographer unknown.
Eva's Red Cross Record Card.

"Night Duty" by Eva Dobell

The pain and laughter of the day are done
So strangely hushed and still the long ward seems,
Only the Sister’s candle softly beams.
Clear from the church near by the clock strikes ’one’;
And all are wrapt away in secret sleep and dreams.

Here one cries sudden on a sobbing breath,
Gripped in the clutch of some incarnate fear:
What terror through the darkness draweth near?
What memory of carnage and of death?
What vanished scenes of dread to his closed eyes appear?

And one laughs out with an exultant joy.
An athlete he — Maybe his young limbs strain
In some remembered game, and not in vain
To win his side the goal — Poor crippled boy,
Who in the waking world will never run again.

One murmurs soft and low a woman’s name;
And here a vet’ran soldier calm and still
As sculptured marble sleeps, and roams at will
Through eastern lands where sunbeams scorch like flame,
By rich bazaar and town, and wood-wrapt snow-crowned hill.

Through the wide open window on great star,
Swinging her lamp above the pear-tree high,
Looks in upon these dreaming forms that lie
So near in body, yet in soul so far
As those bright worlds thick strewn ion that vast depth of sky.