Wednesday, August 15, 2018

368. A Written Picture of Charles Ricketts (3)

Green Lizard Sonnet

O Love, the transformations thou hast given!
Love, through all transformations I believe.
The Jove that I have seen casting his levin
I wear as a green lizard on my sleeve...
Love, Love! Can'st thou take on such utter dearth,
Nor lovely as the moon in lapse of powers,
Nor burning frangipanni at the hearth,
Nor with soft incense incensing the hours?
Why move so alien, why art thou thus?
Wear any mask, so thine eyes pierce the shaft,
Or turn thee wailing to thy Genius:
Sighs are there that to me thou can'st not waft,
Imaginations, hopes that must divide --
Yet, as thou art a god, interpret wide!

                                                          Michael Field

This complete version, based on manuscripts, was published for the first time in Ivor C. Treby's anthology of Michael Field's poetry, A Shorter Shirazad (1999).

Michael Field, 'Green Lizard Sonnet'
in Wild Honey from Various Thyme (1908)
 When Michael Field published the poem in their book Wild Honey from Various Thyme in 1908, the printer mutilated the sonnet, which, lacking line 9, became a 'triskaidekain', as Treby pointed out. 

Charles Ricketts, detail of binding
for Michael Field's Wild Honey from Various Thyme (1908)
The subject was Ricketts: 'recently he had not been sufficiently attentive', and on 18 November 1904 the Michael Field journal noted: 'I tell Painter [Ricketts] I have written a furious sonnet against him called the Green Lizard Sonnet'.