Saturday, June 16, 2012

A centenary homage to Powell: his poems

Enoch Powell was born 100 years ago today. Here is my small contribution to the celebrations.

A few months ago something reminded me of the fact that as a young man, Powell had published some poems. One of which had been used to attack him when he became a Minister, and others have been used to suggest that as a young man he had homosexual inclinations.

I looked to see if I could find the poems on line, with no luck at all. Except for a copy that resides in the National Library of Australia I could find very little. The odd reference confirming that such a volume had been published in 1937, but not a single line. However I found a volume for sale, signed and thought, well I am going to have that.

Published by Basil Blackwood, and printed by the Shakespeare Head Press, one of those arts and craft printers, like the Nonesuch that were dying out by then it cannot have ever had a wide circulation.

I tried to get in touch with the publishes, Basil Blackwood, and then bounced across to Wily and Company in order to check copyright, but was fobbed off and calls were not returned. So please, if I have breached copyright by putting them online, I apologise.

Anyhow, here they are. He was twenty five when they were published and must be judged as such. From my own reading they are definitely what can be called juvenilia. Death, longing, conflicted passion and pastorality loom large, a sort of late Augustan style. 

First Poems
Fifty Short Lyrics
Enoch Powell

Printed at the Shakespeare Head Press
And sold by
Basil Blackwell Broad Street

I)              Through all the burning summertime 
Through all the burning summertime
And through the days’ decrease
And through the months of mist and rime
I saw and held my peace
But when the spring to hill and coomb
Returned in warmth and rain,
The torture of the trees in bloom
Stung me to speech again

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