Saturday, March 28, 2009

Eve with a berry half way to her lips

Eve, with her basket, was
Deep in the bells and grass,
Wading in bells and grass
Up to her knees,
Picking a dish of sweet
Berries and plums to eat,
Down in the bell and grass
Under the trees.

Mute as a mouse in a
Corner the cobra lay,
Circled round a bough of the
Cinnamon tall. . . .
Now to get even and
Humble proud heaven and
Now was the moment or
Never at all.

"Eva!" Each syllable
Light as a flower fell,
"Eva!" he whispered the
Wondering maid,
Soft as a bubble sung
Out of a linnet's lung,
Soft and most silverly
"Eva!" he said.

Picture that orchard sprite,
Eve, with her body white,
Supple and smooth to her
Slim finger tips.
Wondering, listening,
Listening, wondering,
Eve with a berry
Half-way to her lips.

Oh had our simple Eve
Seen through the make-believe!
Had she but known the
Pretender he was!
Out of the boughs he came,
Whispering still her name,
Tumbling in twenty rings
Into the grass.

Here was the strangest pair
In the world anywhere,
Eve in the bells and grass
Kneeling, and he
Telling the story low. . . .
Singing birds saw them go
Down the dark path to
The Blasphemous Tree.

O what a clatter when
Titmouse and Jenny Wren
Saw him successful and
Taking his leave!
How the birds rated him,
How they all hated him!
How they all pitied
Poor motherless Eve!

Picture her crying
Outside in the lane,
Eve, with no dish of sweet
Berries and plums to eat,
Haunting the gate of the
Orchard in vain. . . .
Picture the lewd delight
Under the hill to-night --
"Eva!" the toast goes round,
"Eva!" again.
This is 'Eve' by Ralph Hodgson, from Poems, (London, 1917). It is the 45th poem that T.E. Lawrence wrote out in Minorities, his pocket book of blank pages. The ellipses are in the poem itself; they don't reflect omissions that Lawrence made when he put the poem in Minorities.

The Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections Dept. holds the Ralph Hodgson and Aurelia Bolliger Hodgson Papers where you can find some images of the man and some of his work as an artist.

{Portrait of Ralph Hodgson painted in Japan, artist and date unknown; from the Bryn Mawr Special Collections site}

{Galley proof of Hodgson's poems "Time" and "Eve" with corrections c. 1917 with note on the back by CL Fraser; from the Bryn Mawr Special Collections site}

Some sources:

Minorities, by T E Lawrence; ed. by Jeremy Wilson (London, Cape, 1971).

POEMS, by Ralph Hodgson, from the American edition (NY, 1918).

Poems,Ralph Hodgson (London, Macmillan, 1917).

Ralph Hodgson entry in wikipedia.

No comments: