Verse 70 and its implications.
Indeed, indeed, Repentance oft before
I swore – but was I sober when I swore?
And then and then came Spring, and Rose-in hand
My thread-bare Penitence apieces tore.
“The meaning is clear enough: He intended to mend his ways often enough, but never quite made it! The Spring and the Rose are here symbols of the attraction back to his old ways.” Bob Forrest.
Jessica Harkness inscribed verse 70 on a copy of the Rubaiyat she gave to Alfred Boxall prior to his posting overseas in September 1945. She was a single young woman, he was older and married.
The implications in V70 are clear, though seeing it was Harkness who wrote the inscription it can be further implied she was the one who needed to mend her ways.
On October 16, 1946 Alf Boxall departed Rabaul with his destination Brisbane from where he proceeded to his demobilisation. (refer NAA files NX83331 page 17).
He then took home leave in Sydney.
Jessica Harkness, still single and employed as a nurse at the RNS hospital became pregnant within a month.
A further implication can now be made that her sudden flight to her parents home in Melbourne then on to Adelaide – possibly on their advice – was evidence of a need to get as far away from the married Boxall* and Sydney as she could.
She gave birth to Robin Thomson in Adelaide in July 1947.
* Feltus wrote that Boxall corresponded with Harkness’ mother in Melbourne. He suspects this information was mentioned in an interview Harkness had with the police (Canney?) and was subsequently released by them to the press.
The correspondence Boxall had with Mrs Harkness could not have been prompted by any knowledge of Jessica’s involvement in the death of the Somerton Man as he disavowed knowing anything about the matter when interviewed by the Sydney police, remembering too that their visit was only a couple of days after Harkness spoke to detective Canney.
The letter may have been to ask where she was and why she had left Sydney so suddenly.
header image from Ross’s Rubaiyat