Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Between Sunset & Dawn by Lionel Birch

This is a copy of Between Sunset & Dawn by Lionel Birch, a slim volume of youthful verse tinged with homoeroticism and published in Cambridge by the Corydon Press in 1929 in a limited edition of 250 copies. Earlier in the week I tweeted this lovely patterned paper on the boards which, although the scan doesn't show it well has metallic gold elements in it as well but I have been slowly digesting this rather melancholy collection of poems. This one in particular I thought woth sharing: I haven't really got to the bottom of it but it has one of the saddest atmospheres of any poem I've read for a very long time.

"And Desire Shall Fail"

The firelight fell; the winter room grew cold;
   They watched Time pass them by with grave surprise.
   For hearts were quick no more, and they were old;
And laughter dribbled from their mirthless eye.
And each was thinking how long, long ago
   He found enchantment, proud and fair and free;
With lights ablaze; and motions to and fro;
And a long night beside a northern sea.

At last one rose and crossed the cheerless boards,
   Whistling a song; their faces sought the fire.
   (A silly tune with sentimental words.)
Sidelong they glanced ashamed. And each felt queer.
And, to their hearts, long exiled, came desire,
And to thier eyes, pale trespasser, a tear.

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