Saturday, 10 September 2011

The Poetry of Margery Clute (2)

If you missed the first installment, which provided some background information regarding Margery Clute's poetry, you can read it here.

The Trees in Spring

The Trees in Spring
Adorn their twigs
With a multitude
Of verdant Sprigs

- And all the while the Birds
Sing out their Hearts
To Hill and Vale
In many Parts.

Margery Clute (1824-76)

The indents employed by Clute in the next poem made impossible to publish as text on blogger, so I've had to present it as an image:


12 comments:

The Weaver of Grass said...

She doesn't get any better with age, does she?

The Solitary Walker said...

It's extraordinary, Dominic, but this week, in another of those strange coincidences so prevalent in this blog world of ours, I happened to be in Nottingham Public Library trawling through some photocopies of the Victorian broadsheet 'The Cockney Gazette' - researching for a book I'm writing on the subject of East End of London pilgrimage sites - when my eye was drawn to a short report about a certain musical soirée which took place in the Old Kent Road in the month of September 1856. The name 'Margery Clute' fairly leaped out at me from an inky ocean of dense type.

To cut a long story short, it seems that our Yorkshire poetic recluse Margery was in the habit of visiting London on quite a regular basis. After further meticulous perusal of these broadsheets, I discovered that not only was she involved in helping Charles Dickens set up homes for 'fallen women' from London's East End and distributing food and clothing to London's poverty-stricken gin drinkers, but she was also quite a musical talent and took part in various disparate musical events all over the Great Wen. In the newspaper report I mentioned above, she formed part of a pseudo-medieval quartet and was, unbelievably, a lutanist - apparently playing with some flair. (Interesting, then, the poem you quote in your latest post - which irrefutably demonstrates her great passion for music.)

It's also interesting to note that, according to a pre-WWII edition of 'Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable', 'plucking the Margery Clute' is Cockney rhyming slang for 'playing the lute'.

Just think - not only may we be unearthing here an English Emily Dickinson, but an Emily Dickinson with the secret life of a Henry Purcell!

Yours etc., SW

AquaMarina said...

DOMINIC - are you having us on?????!!!
Have you read Mary Swann by Carol Shields? If not, I think you might like it.....

George said...

Another interesting post on Margery Clute, Dominic, and I'm even more fascinated now that I see Robert's account of some her activities in London. Perhaps one of you should write the definitive biography of Ms. Clute, thereby assuring that achieves the iconic status of our dear Emily.

The Solitary Walker said...

A biography would be good, George, but time consuming, as there are so few leads.The few bibliographic insights into her life I've had so far are scant and hard won. If such a biography gets beyond 20 pages, it would be a miracle. We need to unearth a poetic and musical treasure trove - akin to the Sutton Hoo Viking horde - to really fly. Alas, I fear MC is doomed to spend her posthumous life in more or less complete obscurity - despite Dominic's valiant and selfless attempts to rescue her reputation.

Gerry Snape said...

I have heard of one Margery Dawe
Who used to go see-saw, see-saw.
But I'm sorry to say I am mute
On the history of Margery Clute.

Arnab Majumdar said...

I woke up a little while back to the sound of the chirping birds.

Cheers,
Arnab Majumdar
SribbleFest.com

Friko said...

No, sorry, she does little for me.
She'd make an 'excellent' blogger poet.

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for these comments, everybody!

WG: Indeed not.

SW: Most of the details I have about Margery's life I've gleaned from a descendant of hers, George Clute, who I found in the Bradford phone book back in the 80s when I looked into all this.

The Clutes are still a musical family. George, although not one for knocking out a bit of Dowland on the old Margery, is a Dixieland fan, and quite well-known locally as a performer on the banjo.

George seemed to think Margery had set one or two of her lyrics to music, which is quite a thought! I might have to look into this further...

AquaMarina: I haven't, but thanks for mentioning her. I've read up about her on Wikipedia now. Interesting.

George: I don't know about a biography, but I have for some years been working on a Collected Edition of her work, with a biographical introduction.

SW: Quite.

GS: But no more.

AM: Often do here, too - especially in Summer. Sometimes antisocially early - but I'm not complaining. Huge flocks of starlings fly around this village - wonderful to watch.

Friko: Had the internet been around then, I'm sure she would have had a field day.

Arnab Majumdar said...

I think I know what you mean, but even with the insomnia that makes me have restless sleep patterns, and even though I always end up waking up at ungodly hours (like 3:30 in the morning today!), it is a calming noise to hear early in the morning. Of course, I had to wait for about two hours to hear the birds twittering about... :D

Cheers,
Arnab Majumdar on SribbleFest.com

Rachel Fenton said...

(If you write your blog on "live writer" you can do more with the indents - failing that, chose the Html tab for post writing and use xtml code to insert the indents - a faff but usefull to know.)


In all honesty, I'll take the birds over Clute any day. But she's a fascinating figure and I love all that SW has discovered and shared about her - would love to read more.

Jinksy said...

I think I was born in the wrong century - I could see me being as happy as a pig in muck, churning out verses like hers! LOL