"Autobiographies of great nations are written in three manuscripts – a book of deeds, a book of words, and a book of art.
Of the three, I would choose the latter as truest testimony." - Sir Kenneth Smith, Great Civilisations

"I must write each day without fail, not so much for the success of the work, as in order not to get out of my routine." - Leo Tolstoy

I have never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think the pleasures of not writing are so
great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again. - John Updike

"The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour
is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it." - J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Sunday, March 26, 2017

William Sharp - A Crystal Forest & Other Poems (Poetry from 2017 "Beauty & the Beast")

by William Sharp

The air is blue and keen and cold,
With snow the roads and fields are white
But here the forest's clothed with light
And in a shining sheath enrolled.
Each branch, each twig, each blade of grass,
Seems clad miraculously with glass:

Above the ice-bound streamlet bends
Each frozen fern with crystal ends.
Belle reads William Sharp's poem "A Crystal Forest"
in Beauty & the Beast and then adds the following
lines from the Disney script:

"For in that solemn silence is heard
in the whisper of every sleeping thing:

Look, look at me,
Come wake me up
for still here I'll be."

Transcripts from Nature


Against the dim hot summer blue
Yon wave of white wild-roses lies,
Watching with listless golden eyes
The green leaves shutting out their view,
The tiny leaves whose motions bright
Are like small wings of emerald light:

White butterflies like snow-flakes fall
And brown bees drone their honey-call.


A long low gurgle down the strand,
The sputtering of the drying wrack
The tide is slowly ebbing back
With listless murmuring from the land,
And the small waves reluctant flow
Where the broad-bosomed currents go.

The sea has fall'n asleep, and lies
Dense blue beneath the dense blue skies.


The furtive lights that herald dawn
Are shimmering 'mid the steel-blue firs;
A slow awakening wind half stirs
And the long branches breathe upon;
The east grows clearer---clearer---lo,
The day is born! A refluent flow:

Of silver waves along each tree
For one brief moment darlingly.

(Towards evening)

The slow heave of the sleeping sea
With pulse-like motion swells and falls,
And drowsily a stray gull calls
The very wail of melancholy;
All day the moveless mist has slept
On the same bosom east winds swept:

No breath of change in the grey mist,
Save just a dream of amethyst.


Aslant from yonder sunlit hill
The lance-like sunrays stream across
The meadows where the king-cups toss
I' the wind, and where the beech-leaves thrill
With flooding light they twist and turn
And seem to interlace and burn:

Until at last in tangle spun
'Mid the damp grass their race is run.


The bleak and barren mountains keep
A never-ending gloom around
The lonely loch; the winds resound,
The rains beat down, the tempests sweep,
The days are calm and dark and still,---
No other changes Coruisk fill:

Scarce living sound is heard, save high
The eagle's scream or wild swan's cry.


The pale tints of the twilight fields
Have turnéd into burnished gold,
For waves of yellow light have rolled
From the open'd east across the wealds
While 'mid the wheat spires far behind
Stirs lazily the awaken'd wind:

A skylark high (a song-made bird)
Sings as though God his singing heard.


The sea scarce heaves in its calm sleep,
The wind has not awakened yet
Tho' in its dreams it seems to fret
For, ever and again, the deep
Hearkens a sigh that steals along
As might some echo of sad song:

Ah, there the wind stirs! Lo, the dark
Dim sea's on fire around our barque.


Between the salt sea-send before
And all the flowing gulfs behind,
Half lifted by the rising wind,
Half eager for the ungain'd shore,
A great green wave of shining light
Sweeps onward crowned with dazzling white:
Above, the east wind shreds the sky
With plumes from the grey clouds that fly.


The air is blue and keen and cold,
With snow the roads and fields are white
But here the forest's clothed with light
And in a shining sheath enrolled.
Each branch, each twig, each blade of grass,
Seems clad miraculously with glass:

Above the ice-bound streamlet bends
Each frozen fern with crystal ends.


Where the ripe pears droop heavily
The yellow wasp hums loud and long
His hot and drowsy autumn song:
A yellow flame he seems to be,
When darting suddenly from high
He lights where fallen peaches lie:

Yellow and black, this tiny thing's
A tiger-soul on elfin wings.


Deep black against the dying glow
The tall elms stand; the rooks are still;
No windbreath makes the faintest thrill
Amongst the leaves; the fields below
Are vague and dim in twilight shades---
Only the bats wheel in their raids:

On the grey flies, and silently
Great dusky moths go flitting by.


The wintry wolds are white; the wind
Seems frozen; in the shelter'd nooks
The sparrows shiver; the black rooks
Wheel homeward where the elms behind
The manor stand; at the field's edge
The redbreasts in the blackthorn hedge:

Sit close and under snowy eaves
The shrewmice sleep 'mid nested leaves.


The lofty ehn-trees darkly dream
Against the steel-blue sky; till far
I' the twilit east a golden star
O'erbrims the dusk in one vast stream
Of yellow light, and lo! a cry
Breaks from the windy nest---the sky:

Is filled with wheeling rooks---they sway
In one black phalanx towards the day.


The first snows of the year lie white
Upon the branches bending low;
A surging wind the flakes doth blow
Before the coming feet of Night--
Half dusk, half day, betwixt the pines
Green-yellow the full moon reclines:

Green-yellow, and now wholly green,
While faint the windy stars are seen.


Softly sailing emerald lights
Above the cornfields come and go,
Listlessly wandering to and fro
The magic of these July nights
Has surely even pierced down deep
Where the earth's jewels unharmed sleep:

And filled with fire the emeralds there
And raised them thus to the outer air.


As though the Power that made the Nautilus
A living glory o'er seas perilous
Scathless to roam, had from the utmost deep
Called a vast flawless pearl from out its sleep
And carv'd it crescent-wise, exceeding fair,---
So seems the crescent moon that thro' the air:

With motionless motion glides from out the West,
And sailing onward ever seems at rest.


Between two mighty hills a sheer
Abyss---far down in the ravine
A thread-like torrent and a screen
Of oaks like shrubs-and one doth rear
A dry scarp'd peak above all sound
Save windy voices wailing round:

At sunrise here, in proud disdain
The eagle scans his vast domain.

(Returning from Torcello)

In violet hues each dome and spire
Stands outlined against flawless rose;
O'er this a carmine ocean flows
Streak'd with pure gold and amber fire,
And through the sea of sundown mist
Float isles of melted amethyst:

Storm-portents, saffron streamers rise,
Fan-like, from Venice to the skies.


The yellow waste of yellow sands,
The bronze haze of a scorching sky!
Lo, what are these that broken lie;
Were these once temples made with hands
Once towers and palaces that knew
No hint of that which one day threw:

Their greatness to the winds---made this
The memory of Persepolis?

* * * * * * * *

William Sharp photographed in 1894
by Frederick Hollyer.

Poems by William Sharp - http://www.sundown.pair.com/Sharp/WSVol_1/contents.htm

Biography of William Sharp

William Sharp (12 September 1855 – 12 December 1905) was a Scottish writer, of poetry and literary biography in particular, who from 1893 wrote also as Fiona MacLeod, a pseudonym kept almost secret during his lifetime. He was also an editor of the poetry of Ossian, Walter Scott, Matthew Arnold, Algernon Charles Swinburne and Eugene Lee-Hamilton.

Sharp was born in Paisley and educated at Glasgow Academy and the University of Glasgow, which he attended 1871-1872 without completing a degree. In 1872 he contracted typhoid. During 1874-5 he worked in a Glasgow law office. His health broke down in 1876 and he was sent on a voyage to Australia. In 1878 he took a position in a bank in London.

He was introduced to Dante Gabriel Rossetti by Sir Noel Paton, and joined the Rossetti literary group; which included Hall Caine, Philip Bourke Marston and Swinburne. He married his cousin Elizabeth in 1884, and devoted himself to writing full time from 1891, travelling widely.

Also about this time, he developed an intensely romantic but perhaps asexual attachment to Edith Wingate Rinder, another writer of the consciously Celtic Edinburgh circle surrounding Patrick Geddes and "The Evergreen." It was to Rinder ("EWR") he attributed the inspiration for his writings as Fiona MacLeod thereafter, and to whom he dedicated his first MacLeod novel ("Pharais") in 1894. Sharp had a complex and ambivalent relationship with W. B. Yeats during the 1890s, as a central tension in the Celtic Revival. Yeats initially found MacLeod acceptable and Sharp not, and later fathomed their identity. Sharp found the dual personality an increasing strain.

On occasions when it was necessary for "Fiona MacLeod" to write to someone unaware of the dual identity, Sharp would dictate the text to his sister (Mary Beatrice Sharp), whose handwriting would then be passed off as Fiona's manuscript. During his MacLeod period, Sharp was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

He died (and is buried) at Castello di Maniace, Sicily. In 1910, Elizabeth Sharp published a biographical memoir attempting to explain the creative necessity behind the deception, and edited a complete edition of his works.

William Sharp's Works:

* Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Record and Study (1882)
* The Human Inheritance, The New Hope, Motherhood and Other Poems (1882)
* Sopistra and Other Poems (1884);
* Earth's Voices (1884) poems
* Sonnets of this century (1886) editor
* Sea-Music: An Anthology of Poems (1887)
* Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1887)
* Romantic Ballads and Poems of Phantasy (1888)
* Sport of chance (1888) novel
* Life of Heinrich Heine (1888)
* American Sonnets (1889)
* Life of Robert Browning (1889)
* The Children of Tomorrow (1889)
* Sospiri di Roma (1891) poems
* Life of Joseph Severn (1892)
* A Fellowe and his Wife (1892)
* Flower o' the Vine (1892)
* Pagan Review (1892)
* Vistas (1894);
* Pharais (1894) novel as FM
* The Gipsy Christ and Other Tales (1895)
* Mountain Lovers (1895) novel as FM
* The Laughter of Peterkin (1895) as FM
* The Sin-Eater and Other Tales (1895) as FM
* Ecce puella and Other Prose Imaginings (1896)
* The Washer of the Ford (1896) novel as FM
* Fair Women in Painting and Poetry (1896)
* Lyra Celtica: An Anthology of Representative Celtic Poetry (1896)
* By Sundown Shores (1900) as FM
* The Divine Adventure (1900) as FM
* Iona (1900) as FM
* From the Hills of Dream, Threnodies Songs and Later Poems (1901) as FM
* The Progress of Art in the Nineteenth century (1902)
* The House of Usna (1903) play as FM
* Literary Geography (1904)
* The Winged Destiny: Studies in the Spiritual History of the Gael (1904) as FM and dedicated to Dr John Goodchild
* The Immortal Hour (1908) play as FM

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