Thursday, 1 August 2013
Francis Thompson An Anthem of Earth
Lowry quotes from Francis Thompson's poem 'An Anthem of Earth' during Dana Hilliot's drunken drift around Dairen in Chapter 3 of the novel Ultramarine; "Ay, Mother ! Mother ! What is this Man, thy darling kissed and cuffed, Thou lustingly engender'st, To sweat, and make his brag, and rot crowned with all honour and all shamefulness?" (Pg. 116)
Rejoice with all their joy. Ay, Mother! Mother!
What is this Man, thy darling kissed and cuffed,
Thou lustingly engender'st,
To sweat, and make his brag, and rot,
Crowned with all honour and all shamefulness?
From nightly towers
He dogs the secret footsteps of the heavens,
Sifts in his hands the stars, weighs them as gold-dust,
And yet is he successive unto nothing
But patrimony of a little mould,
And entail of four planks. Thou hast made his mouth
Avid of all dominion and all mightiness,
All sorrow, all delight, all topless grandeurs,
All beauty, and all starry majesties,
And dim transtellar things;--even that it may,
Filled in the ending with a puff of dust,
Confess--'It is enough.' The world left empty
Lowry may have been drawn to Thompson's poem on man's mortality to reinforce the sense of death and decay which surrounds Dana on his drift around Dairen.
Lowry also puts the quote into the context of his mother's feelings about the trip to the Far East; "I don't want my son coarsened by a lot of hooligans?" However, Lowry cannot resist joking about his mother's perhaps prudish attitude to his conception; "My son whom thou lustingly engenderest?" (Pg. 116)