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‘I wrote my wife a poem every day for 25 years’

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Actor Peter Gordon put a love poem under his wife Alison's pillow every day for 25 years. He has kept writing for her since her death, and his family have now put his poems online.Peter Gordon has raised the bar for romantic gestures.While most men think doing more than buying a bunch of flowers once in a while is going the extra mile, he penned 8,500 poems over several decades about the life and love he shared with Alison.It's hard to think of a gesture that could be both as grand and as sweetly personal.The poems form a remarkable chronicle of domestic devotion, passion and bliss. If Peter's not the most romantic bloke alive, they suggest he's been one of the luckiest.
Peter started writing the poems in the 1980s, but they became a daily fixture in 1990, and remained so until her death from lung cancer in 2016."She was very touched and used to look forward to it," he recalls."It started off as little notes and then little poems. I would put them under her pillow, she would come to bed, look under the pillow, give it to me, and I would read it to her."Then I'd give it to her and she would read it silently and then fold it up and put it back under the pillow."Around 340 of his vast archive of poems have now been put online by their daughters Cassie, a charity content creator, and Anna, a writer who has worked on Succession and Killing Eve.Some of the poems are recited in accompanying videos by actors like Julie Hesmondhalgh and Pearl Mackie.
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In 2015, the poems took a more reflective and darker turn after Alison was diagnosed with cancer. When she died, he continued writing, although not daily.In those poems, the emptiness is excruciating. One, in which he imagines a walk with her, sums up both the joy of their life and the pain of her absence:"She hangs on my arm or we go hand in hand / And we chat - well, she's sending me up half the time / Or we're making up songs and trying to rhyme / And laughing sometimes when the words haven't scanned."He's only brought back to reality when her voice tells him: "Even the fondest, it can't be denied / May forget now and then - it's a year since I died."After her death, Peter sorted through the poems in the shed of the house he now shares with Cassie, and picked out the best to go online.
He says: "I've been reading through them again, for what we're doing, and I find some of them make me cry, or nearly cry."Some make me laugh. There's always a lot of humour."The poems were published for the first time on the website, A Love In Verse, on the fourth anniversary of Alison's death last week."I want to honour the love that we had, and I think it's worth letting people know about it," Peter says. "I think it's a good thing, especially in these difficult times."When we came up with this whole idea, it was quite long ago, long before the lock-in. I just thought they were quite good and I would like them as a memorial to Alison."
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by Peter GordonAbout the centre of the small loo window Leaves of every ivy-colour frameThe bold obtrusion of an autumn sunLeaf-jewels form along the vinesCherry-red shade and delicious green.There's no compounding of these oppositesEach surface either red or green or bearingEach separate - but look closer now and behold!Some leaves blend red and green in a strange shadeSubtle and lovely! Well, you planted themThe ivy plants that now are everywhereBlending opposing colours as your loveWithin my life spreads vine and leafAnd colours sweet and sharp and dark and lightMaking my days be filled with such a gloryWith which November sun catches a seagullAs it wheels over roofs, against the sky. Read more of Peter Gordon's poems
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Theatre
Poetry
Brentford
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