I will be the first to admit that when it comes to poetry, I am a bit of a Victorian junkie. Tell me what you will about the strict rhythm and rhyme forms, or the sappy nature of the poetry, I don’t care. I love the obvious and cadenced rhythms because they speak to me on the level of a percussionist and I love how very easy it is to understand what they’re talking about. Yes, there is metaphor and symbolism, but at the same time, it is not random words sprinkled on a page with no discernible pattern or reasoning. (Disclaimer: My liking of this genre of writing from the timeperiod should in NO WAY indicate any interest in any of the fiction writing of the time, or even most of the non-fiction writing. I can’t stand that stuff.)
So, starting with that admission, you will more readily understand why I was ecstatic to lay my hands on a first edition copy of Fantasy and Passion by Edgar Fawcett. I saw a first edition volume sitting on the shelf during a tour of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s house this last summer and fell in love with the maroon cloth with gold relief sun filigree and desired one of my own. Abebooks kindly provided me with the necessary means to this end.
The poetry certainly didn’t disappoint, either. It is clean and crisp and flows off the tongue like the best of the sonnets, and I wanted to share a couple of my favorites here with you.
The land is bathed in drowsy light,
And breezes move, with drowsy sigh,
From out that primrose West where now
The long day takes so long to die!
I watch the deepening dusk, I watch,
With soul to languid fancies given,
Night close the starry flowers on earth
And ope the flowerlike stars in heaven!
Not seem with more than transient look
If random glances near it stray,
Huge in the hueless East there hangs
One rounded cloud of stagnant gray.
The moments pass; a rapid bat
Traces black zigzags on the sky;
A beetle, bringing us his deep
Basso Profundo, journeys by.
Down in the dim swamp, firefly throngs
A brilliant soundless revel keep,
As though beneath their radiant rain
Another Danae slept her sleep!
The mild night grows; through meadowed ways
The globing dew makes odor sweet,
And slowly now, in that dark cloud,
A pluse of gold begins to beat!
With fitful brightenings, brief to last,
The tender flashes come and fly,
Each winning forth from vapory depths
A dreamy picture, rich of dye.
Drenched to its core with gentle fire,”
The cloud, at every mellowing change,
Shows tranquil lakes and lovely vales
And massive mountains, range on range!
And standing in the summer gloom,
With placid rapture I behold
These luminous Andes of the air,
These ghostly Switzerlands of gold!
So, besides of a criminal overuse of exclamation marks, I really love the stuff in this collection. If you have a love of Victorian type poetry, like I do, grab a copy of Fawcett, he’s constantly being reprinted. In fact, I think there was a new one sometime earlier this year, so you don’t have to get a first edition, I just wanted one!