touches of daintiness in the typography of this pleasant and
interesting book of verses by an unnamed writer do not militate
against the claim suggested by its sub-title. But the ancient
world did not write like this enterprising and entertaining
after-comer. He translates Bion, indeed; sings hymns to Diana;
renders a love-poem of Theocritus; imagines what the Druids may
have looked like while sacrificing; acclaims Bacchus and Horace;
and makes abysm of time. But he is never more at home than in
the closing piece that shows him seeking refuge in his garden
from the disorders of the twentieth century, and foretelling a
return to natural things.
Scotsman, 15 August 1921.
(twenty-one) poems in this volume owe much to the classics, for
they touch on Bacchus and Venus, Philomel and Diana, on Plato,
Pythagorus and Horace (the last is a stately chant royal). The
format of the book, of which only 550 copies have been printed,
Graphic, 27 August 1921.
the Groves emanates from the Vine Press and modesty or something
else obscures the author’s identity. It is a well-printed and
bulky volume of derivative verse shewing little power of
translation and less labour. The rhyme misguides the sense. A
prose argument introduces poem after poem and everything in the
book from the mere paper to the matter is over-elaborate and
Cambridge Review, 4 November 1921.
of the Groves: Records of the Ancient World. (The Vine Press:
Steyning, Sussex: 1921), has a singularly charming account of a
rustic courtship. The Wooing, the poem to which we refer, is a
rendering from the Greek of Theocritus, and is remarkable for
the vivid picture conjured up before our eyes in a few lines of
verse. Daphnis, a young shepherd, and a maiden, discourse of
love and marriage; eventually she yields to his passion:—
your hand, you satyr; do not seek my blossoms so!
Just a first glance! Oh! I must
see those snowy flowers of mine!
O Pan! O Pan! I’m fainting! Take
away that hand of thine!
Darling, look up! Don’t tremble
so! Why fear your Lycidas?
Oh, Daphnis! I shall spoil my
robe; it’s filthy on this grass.
But—just see here!—the softest
fleece over your robe I’ve thrown.
Ah me! Oh! Don’t undo my belt! Why
do you loose my zone?
Because the Paphian Queen must
have it for an offering.
Some one will come! I hear a
noise! Leave off, you cruel thing!
A noise? My cypresses: they murmur
how my darling weds.
Oh, I am bare! You’ve torn my robe
into a string of shreds!
A better robe I’ll give you soon;
a larger robe I’ll buy.
Oh yes! You’ll give me all, when
soon salt even you’ll deny.
Oh, I could pour my soul into you
for your dear delight!
Forgive, O Artemis, forgive your
Venus shall have an ox; a calf for
Cupid I will burn.
A virgin came I hither, but a
woman shall return.
The nurse, the mother, of my
babes, now never more a maid.
So with young limbs entwined in
love all joyously they played.
Soft-murmuring each to each; then
from their secret couch they leap:
She, when she had arisen, went
away to feed her sheep;
Shame was in her eyes, but her
heart beat high above:
Joyous, he went to feed his
flocks, glad from the bed of love.”
Way of a Virgin, 1922.
intervals far too long, alas!—there reaches the sad groaning
tables of reviewers a little volume whose charm and distinction
brings with it the freshness and surprise of a May Queen dancing
into a committee meeting of frowsy kill-joys or a jolly young
Bacchus raiding the headquarters of the Pussy-foots. There have
only been five of these occasional volumes, including a sort of
distant relative which, being outside the series, I do not
mention here. They come modestly into the world, receive a
really notable appreciation from some of our few discriminating
reviewers, and pass, no less modestly, into, I imagine, the
goodly company of books kept by our connoisseurs.
For modesty is the one
natural raiment of these volumes. The title-pages bear the
imprint “The Vine Press, Steyning,” which is just sufficient to
tell you whence, in Sussex, you may secure copies. Indeed,
beyond that, in none of them except the “distant relation” and
the fifth shall you find any clue as to authorship or
editorship. On the other hand, you will not need to look over
many pages to find verses of perfect and captivating tune—idylls
that make the pipes of Pan flute again over the years that are
still. Much of the verse is the work of a poet who can express
himself in a fine lyric measure, of one who is steeped in
folklore, and of one who can distil the golden classics not
merely as a translator but as a creative artist; the remaining
verse, some of it little known and precious, is by poets with
similar qualities, the selection showing a very extensive
The first of these volumes
was Lillygay, an anthology of anonymous poems which a
writer in an early November Number of The Bookman’s Journal
hailed as “a benediction of a book—a book eternal” in whose
pages the reader might “re-capture lost May Days and lost
pay-days.” Nest, a year later, appeared the anonymous Swift
Wings: Songs in Sussex, containing some rich melodies which
more than maintained the promise of the original work in the
previous volume and augured well for the future. Songs of the
Groves, the successor (1921), was in some ways a more
ambitious work, in which the author, still veiling himself, in
achieving some finer moments in his songs and translations
frequently ran the full course of his unrestrained themes of
Arcadian loves and passions. The latest volume is Larkspur: A
Lyric Garland, by various hands.
These books are issued in
certified ordinary editions of 550 copies, each numbered,
printed on antique laid paper, for a few shillings each; with
editions de-luxe limited to 40 copies on handmade paper, the
woodcut decorations hand-coloured, numbered and signed. There is
a very individual note in the production of these books, and
though they offer points for typographical criticism, the founts
of type used and the arrangement are in effective harmony with
the verse. The woodcuts, variously by Eric and Percy West, are
crude (though better in some of the later examples), but there
is character in them which makes their very crudeness
delightful. Altogether, one feels in handling the volumes that
they have been dreamed over, and planned, and dreamed over
again: they are instinct with the spirit of the verse of the
Dedication in Larkspur—
So to the Rose of
The Heart in each
Is sung the Artist’s
The Poet’s love for
As for Larkspur, the
recent publication of which is the occasion for the above notes,
this book is a departure from the previous ones in the series.
An anthology, the poems—with the exception of the Dedication,
Prologue, Epilogue and Colophon—are this time ascribed, the
“contributors” being given as Tom D’Urfey, John Norris, Robert
Greene, Dr. James Smith, John Keats, Chrystopher Crayne, Aphra
Behn, Edward Moore, Paul Pentreath, Nicholas Udall, William
Drummond, Edmond Waller, Harold Stevens, Laurence Edwards,
Arthur French, and Nicholas Pyne. Now, there are some names here
that we know well enough; but there are others for which we may
search the British Museum until we tread on our beards without
ever tracing the authors and their alluring lines. I would fain
pursue this matter now, but I leave it until I have more space
Keats? I wonder how many
lovers of Keats know a five-stanza poem credited to him,
“Sharing Eve’s Apple,” whose last verse is:—
There’s a sigh for yes,
and a sigh for no,
And a sigh of I
can’t bear it!
O what can be done,
shall we stay or run?
O cut the sweet
apple and share it.
Larkspur, with its
known and unknown singers, is a book to transport the reader to
the woods and their spirits
And rude rooks
And to far-off things which
are the best things and near enough for those who sing with “The
Amorous Shepherdess” (by Chrystopher Crayne)
O come my deare! Thy
Love is here,
And waits the
Of thy sweete
Come with the
firste new Raines.
There is no better
recommendation than to say that Larkspur will go with its
predecessors to join the goodly company of books sought by those
who delight in these “Songs of ripe-lipped love and of honey-coloured
laughter: old lamps for new: ancient lights.”
Bookman's Journal, March 1923.