“Back in the 1920s my sister left the Cyanographers and followed the teacher to her secluded retreat in the south.”
When the hounds of spring are on winter’s traces,
The mother of months in meadow or plain
Fills the shadows and windy places
With lisp of leaves and ripple of rain;
And the brown bright nightingale amorous
Is half assuaged for Itylus
For the Thracian ships and the foreign faces
The tongueless vigil, and all the pain.
Come with bows bent and with emptying of quivers,
Maiden most perfect, lady of light,
With a noise of winds and many rivers,
With a clamour of waters, and with might;
Bind on thy sandals, O thou most fleet,
Over the splendour and speed of thy feet;
For the faint east quickens, the wan west shivers,
Round the feet of the day and the feet of the night.
Where shall we find her, how shall we sing to her,
Fold our hands round her knees, and cling?
O that man’s heart were as fire and could spring to her
Fire, or the strength of the streams that spring!
For winter’s rains and ruins are over,
And all the season of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remember’d is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.
And Pan by noon and Bacchus by night,
Fleeter of foot than the fleet-foot kid,
Follows with dancing and fills with delight
The Mænad and the Bassarid;
And soft as lips that laugh and hide
The laughing leaves of the trees divide,
And screen from seeing and leave in sight
The god pursuing, the maiden hid.
The ivy falls with the Bacchanal’s hair
Over her eyebrows hiding her eyes;
The wild vine slipping down leaves bare
Her bright breast shortening into sighs;
The wild vine slips with the weight of its leaves,
But the berried ivy catches and cleaves
To the limbs that glitter, the feet that scare
The wolf that follows, the fawn that flies.
“My sister liked to imagine that the place existed out of time, that the earthly paradise was still there and the teacher was still waiting for her.”
The verses come from the Chorus from Atlanta in Calydon by Algernon Swinburne which I first encountered in an anthology when I was a teenager. Swinburne was mentioned briefly in the Victorian Dreamtime post (link opposite) along with the Rossetti family. They are all characters in Tim Power’s recent novel Hide me among the graves which I can highly recommend if you like very strange books.
Thanks to Alex Buchholz of Westminster Central Reference Library for loaning me the book from which I scanned the images, Margaret Morris Dancing which features the photographs of Fred Daniels.
As I’ve been a bit economical with the text this week here is a little extra.
Lady Clementina Hawarden who I featured in the blog last year (The first fashion photographer – see link opposite or go straight there : https://rbkclocalstudies.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/the-first-fashion-photographer-clementina-lady-hawarden/ ) is in the news. An album of her photographs and sketches is coming up for auction at Bonhams in March and is expected to sell for up to £150,000. (http://www.bonhams.com/press_release/12780/) It’s no surprise that there should be huge interest in new pictures by one of the most significant figures in the history of photography. You can find some samples at Mail Online (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2274357/Lady-Hawardens-19th-century-prints-sale.html) where there are some nice large images and on the Telegraph site (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturepicturegalleries/9854840/Lady-Clementina-Hawarden-one-of-Britains-first-female-photographers.html) where there is also a gallery of 10 images.
I had been planning to do another post about her myself but now I think I’ll save that idea for another day. In the meantime here is a self portrait of Lady Hawarden herself which I found at www.artblart.com . It has the same quiet and unearthly atmosphere as the pictures she took of her daughters.
I won’t be bidding myself on 19th March but if you have a few hundred thousand burning a hole in your pocket you could do worse. It would be good if the album ended up in public hands where we could all get to see the pictures