Wednesday 13 May 2020

Nina Mardel (1887 – 1954) – British poet and WW1 nurse

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron, Dr. Vivien Newman and to Leo van Bergen, Dutch medical historian

Leo van Bergen contacted me recently about WW1 female poet Nina Mardel, who I had not yet researched.  I found a Nina Mardel-Ferreiro on the Find my Past website and have just checked in Dr. Vivien Newman's "Tumult and Tears" book about WW1 female poets and on page 182, Dr. Newman gives an explanation.

Nina Mardel was the pen name of Mary Amelia Jose Mardel-Ferreiro, who was a professional nurse who trained at the London Hospital.  She served as Mary Ferreira with the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service.  In 1918 she married a former patient - John Fleming, who had been wounde.  In 1924 they went to live in Australia”. ("Tumult &Tears: The Story of the Great War Through the Eyes and Lives of its Women Poets", Pen & Sword History, Barnsley, 2016.)

“I shall never feel” by Nina Mardel

I shall never feel
The clasp of little arms about my neck –
A soft form cradled near my empty heart,
Oh ravening cruel need! There is no want,
They say but has its purpose in plan.
Yet I could sob my very life away
For empty heart – and empty mother-arms.
Day wears to day! I try to fill my life
With work, ambition, helping other’s pain,
But when wide-eyed through the long night I yearn,
My very self one burning aching want,
I can but kneel with useless arms outflung
And feel his gentle hand upon my head,
And kiss His garment’s hem and pray for strength
To live my life and lock the inner door.

Nina’s WW1 collection “Plain song” (Erskine Macdonald, London, 1917), a copy of which is held by Leeds University: