Thursday, March 26, 2009

T.E. Lawrence, Minorities, Nos. 30-43

Here are links to the 30th-43rd poems that T.E. Lawrence wrote out in Minorities, his pocket book of blank pages. With exception of two, they're all from his copy of the The Oxford Book of English Verse. I'm particularly fond of no. 42.
30. Dominus Illuminatio Mea, by R.D. Blackmore

31. Ode Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, by William Wordsworth

32. Salve!, by T.E. Brown

33. Elizabeth of Bohemia, by Sir Henry Wotton*

34. Love, by George Herbert

35. The Great Misgiving, by William Watson. The editor of Minorities says Lawrence wrote this poem into his pocket book on November 4, 1917, a day on which he learned of the treachery of a fighting companion. Having planned an attack on a railway and now being certain that the enemy knew his plans, he decided to proceed regardless. In Seven Pillars of Wisdom he wrote: 'The Turks, if they took the most reasonable precautions, would trap us at the bridge. We took council with Fahad and decided to push on none the less, trusting to the usual incompetence of our enemy. It was not a confident decision.'

36. Youth and Age, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge**

37. Death the Leveller, by James Shirley.

38. The Vine, by James Thomson. In 1922 Lawrence wrote to Robert Graves: 'By the way James Thomson's Sunday up the River is most excellent, isn't it?'

39. Lawrence did not copy this out of his OBEV. It is verse XVI from 'Sunday up the River' by James Thompson's The City of Dreadful Night, and other poems (London, 1910)
My love is the flaming Sword
To fight through the world;
Thy love is the Shield to ward,
And the Armor of the Lord
And the Banner of Heaven unfurled.
40. Bride Song, from 'The Prince's Progress' by Christina Georgina Rossetti

41. Kubla Khan, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In general, Lawrence did not think highly of Coleridge's work. He wrote his friend Charlotte Shaw that the man 'wrote so little that was quintessential: and a cargo of dross.' (30.X.28 to C. F. Shaw.)

42. Lawrence did not copy this out of his OBEV. It is 'Everyone Sang' from Siegfried Sassoon's Picture Show (Cambridge, 1919)
Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on — on — and out of sight.

Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away . . . O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.
In a letter written in 1929 Lawrence said Sassoon's poetry 'touches nearer to my own train of mind than the work of anyone else publishing. Every verse of his makes me say "I wish to God I'd said that": and his fox-hunting gave me a shock of astonishment that he was so different and so good to know. If I was trying to export the ideal Englishman to an international exhibition, I think I'd choose S.S. for chief exhibit.'

43. Ode to a Nightingale, by John Keats

{Siegfried Sassoon; source: ebooks-library}

{Siegfried Sassoon; source: Imperial War Museum}

{Siegfried Sassoon at the Fourth Army School, May 1916; source: Imperial War Museum}

* Lawrence wrote out the first three verses and omitted the last:
You meaner beauties of the night,
  That poorly satisfy our eyes
More by your number than your light,
  You common people of the skies;
  What are you when the moon shall rise?

You curious chanters of the wood,
  That warble forth Dame Nature's lays,
Thinking your passions understood
  By your weak accents; what 's your praise
  When Philomel her voice shall raise?

You violets that first appear,
  By your pure purple mantles known
Like the proud virgins of the year,
  As if the spring were all your own;
  What are you when the rose is blown?
** Lawrence omitted parts of this poem, as shown.
Verse, a breeze 'mid blossoms straying,
Where Hope clung feeding, like a bee —
Both were mine! Life went a-maying
With Nature, Hope, and Poesy,
      When I was young!
When I was young? — Ah, woful When!
Ah! for the change 'twixt Now and Then!
This breathing house not built with hands,
This body that does me grievous wrong,
O'er aery cliffs and glittering sands,
How lightly then it flash'd along —
Like those trim skiffs, unknown of yore,
On winding lakes and rivers wide,
That ask no aid of sail or oar,
That fear no spite of wind or tide!
Naught cared this body for wind or weather
When Youth and I lived in 't together.

Flowers are lovely! Love is flower-like;
Friendship is a sheltering tree;
O the joys, that came down shower-like,
Of Friendship, Love, and Liberty,
      Ere I was old!
Ere I was old? Ah, woful Ere,
Which tells me, Youth 's no longer here!
O Youth! for years so many and sweet,
'Tis known that thou and I were one;
I'll think it but a fond conceit —
It cannot be that thou art gone!
Thy vesper-bell hath not yet toll'd —
And thou wert aye a masker bold!
What strange disguise hast now put on,
To make believe that thou art gone?
I see these locks in silvery slips,
This drooping gait, this alter'd size:
But springtide blossoms on thy lips,
And tears take sunshine from thine eyes!
Life is but thought: so think I will
That Youth and I are housemates still.

Dewdrops are the gems of morning,
But the tears of mournful eve!
Where no hope is, life 's a warning
That only serves to make us grieve,
      When we are old!

That only serves to make us grieve
With oft and tedious taking-leave,
Like some poor nigh-related guest
That may not rudely be dismist.
Yet hath outstay'd his welcome while,
And tells the jest without the smile.

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