Wednesday, August 8, 2018

367. A Written Picture of Charles Ricketts (2)

An Enchanter

To all men of the earth a foreigner,
He lends his alien glance to every eye;
The other side the moon he passes by,
And we too, of his freedom, double her.

We tingle with his rhapsody of sight,
And shiver in the coldness it employs;
Yet warmth the lizard from its slab enjoys
We feel the moment that we curse our plight.

From cunning distance his caress we take -
So wild things of the woodland please & mock:
In hours of gravity his thoughts forsake

His troubling mortals of the magic flock.
Ah, but his laugh detains us! He has need
His malice should enliven ears that heed.

                                    Michael Field

Ivor C. Treby in 1986 (Bodleian Library)
This poem about Charles Ricketts was written by Michael Field (Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper). There are manuscript versions written by Katharine and Edith - a joint poem that was written in 1901 and published in Wild Honey from Various Thymes (1908).

A collection of their poems was published in 1999 by Ivor C. Treby (1933-2012). He was a biochemist, and worked as a teacher in London, but was also a poet and literary researcher. His research focused on Michael Field, and he published several books about these poets, in which he wrote about poems, books, manuscripts, correspondence, and more. 

For these he arranged the work in idiosyncratic ways, talking about this poem, for example, as T0988. It always takes me some time to decipher the codes he so cleverly fabricated for cross references. He unearthed a wealth of material. His archive is now in the collection of the Bodleian Library, not only as a testimony of him as a poet and researcher, but as a gay man whose archive now testifies of the 20th-struggle for equal rights. (See the announcement of the online publication of his archive.)