Marlborough and other poems
AND OTHER POEMS
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
C. F. CLAY, Manager
LONDON : FETTER LANE, E.C. 4
|NEW YORK : G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS|
|MACMILLAN AND CO., Ltd.|
|TORONTO : J. M. DENT AND SONS, Ltd.|
TOKYO : MARUZEN-KABUSHIKI-KAISHA
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
AND OTHER POEMS
CHARLES HAMILTON SORLEY
Published, January 1916
Second edition, slightly enlarged, February 1916
Reprinted, February, April, May 1916
Third edition, with illustrations in prose, November 1916
Fourth edition, re-arranged and re-set, May 1919
The call for a new edition of these poems gives an opportunity for issuing them in a form which is intended to be definitive.
They are now arranged in four groups according to subject. It is true that all of them perhaps might be described by the title of one of these groups, as poems of life and thought. But some owe their inspiration directly to nature—to the wind-swept downs which the author loved and which he looked upon as "wise" as well as "wide"; a few reflect the experiences of school life; yet others show how his spirit faced the great adventure of war and death. Within each group the poems are printed, as nearly as may be, in the order of their composition, the title-poem being restored to its proper chronological place. When the date, exact or approximate, is known, it has been given; in those cases in which the date specifies the day of the month, it has been taken from the author's manuscript.
A single piece of imaginative prose is included amongst the poems. Other passages of prose were added to the third edition with the view of illustrating ideas occurring in the poems and prominent in the author's mind. With the exception of a few sentences from an early essay, these prose passages are all taken from familiar letters. To the present edition a few notes have been appended, in which some topical allusions are explained and what is known about the origin of the separate pieces is told.
The frontispiece is from a drawing in chalks by Mr Cecil Jameson.
Of the author personally, and of what he was to his family and his friends, I do not speak. Yet I may quote the phrase used by a German lady in whose house he had been living for three months. "The time with him," she wrote, "was like a holiday and a feast-day." Many have felt what she put into words: though it was the graver moods of his mind that, for the most part, sought expression in his poems. I may also put on record here the main facts concerning his short life.
He was born at Old Aberdeen on 19th May 1895. His father was then a professor in the University of Aberdeen, and he was of Scottish descent on both sides. From 1900 onwards his home was in Cambridge. He was educated at Marlborough College, which he entered in September 1908 and left in December 1913, after obtaining a scholarship at University College, Oxford. Owing to the war he never went into residence at the University. After leaving school he spent a little more than six months in Germany, first at Schwerin in Mecklenburg and afterwards, for the summer session, at the University of Jena. He was on a walking tour on the banks of the Moselle when the European war broke out. He was put in prison at Trier on the 2nd August, but released the same night with orders to leave the country. After some adventures he reached home on the 6th, and at once applied for a commission in the army. He was gazetted Second Lieutenant in the Seventh (Service) Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment before the end of the month, Lieutenant in November, and Captain in the following August. He was sent to France with his battalion on 30th May 1915, and served for some months in the trenches round Ploegsteert. Shortly after he had entered upon his life there, a suggestion was made to him about printing a slim volume of verse. But he put the suggestion aside as premature. "Besides," he added, "this is no time for oliveyards and vineyards, more especially of the small-holdings type. For three years or the duration of the war, let be." Four months later his warfare was accomplished. His battalion was moved south to take part in the battle of Loos, and he fell on 13th October 1915, in an attack in which the "hair-pin" trench near Hulluch was captured by his company. "Being made perfect in a little while, he fulfilled long years."
W. R. S.
Cambridge, March 1919