Thursday, June 07, 2012

Shane Leslie, Phillip Sainsbury and Oscar Wilde


Phillip Sainsbury's Cayme Press in the 1920s was perhaps the last vestige of 1890s-flavour publishing until the revival of interest in the period in the 1960s. It was Cayme that published Maria Sainsbury's book on Henry Scott Tuke, and several others with a slightly homoerotic tone and/or decadent feel. Shane Leslie missed out by a whisker on being Frederick Rolfe's first biographer instead of A. J. A. Symons and it's no surprise that when looking for a publisher for his poetry he should find a fecund home for them at the Cayme Press.

This poem follows one called 'In Verlaine's Cafe':

At Oscar Wilde's Tomb

Carved carnalwise above his alien tomb
There sits with bayless brow and cunning claw,
With stony eyes and secret slumbering jaw
O'er Oscar's ashes, pent to-day to narrow room,
Some scented great Assyrian winged lynx,
Half-bird and beast and got by some macaw
Upon a woman, stallion hald and whore,
And broods upon his hapless corpse and drinks -

The poet prisoned, poisoned by her growth,
For she, who overlaid the babe she bore,
Reverse of Pelican must sip its gore
And nest like Stymphalagian bird all loath
And leud, the Genitrix and Genitor,
Hermaphrodie like sphynx and Pheonix both.


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