Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.


I welcome your comments, so do please write. Please note however that all comments are moderated prior to publication. Whilst I fully appreciate that life can be frustrating, nevertheless, abuse, SMS language and illiteracy will not be tolerated!

Thursday 13 February 2014

613: Love Story

Dora Carrington, Lytton Strachey (1916)
Lytton Strachey, painted by Carrington
My sweet companion and my gentle peer,
Why has thou left me thus unkindly here?
Thy end forever and thy life to moan,
O thou has left me all alone.
Thy soul and body when Death's agony
Besieged around thy noble heart,
Did not with more reluctance part,
Than I, my dearest friend, part from thee?

My dearest friend, would I have died for thee?
Life in this world henceforth will tedious be.
Nor shall I know hereafter what to do,
If once my griefs prove tedious too.
Silent and sad I walk about each day,
As sullen ghosts stalk speechless by.
Where their hid treasures lie;
Alas! My treasure's gone. Where do I stay?

No, it's not great poetry in the conventional sense, and for all I know it might even be derivative - my poetry education being almost entirely lacking. But it cannot be criticised for lack of emotional power; I was in tears when today, I read it for the first time.

These lines were written by (Dora) Carrington into her diary following the death early in 1932 of Lytton Strachey, whom she had loved for 17 years - entirely platonically of course - with great passion and commitment.  Two months later she shot herself.

As those of you who read these posts will guess, the poem is quoted in Gretchen Gerzina's biography, Carrington.  This was a true love story - complicated by other affaires (as Carrington called them) - though always paramount, and by the complexity of her nature.  The biography is sensitively written and very moving; I recommend it.

Carrington: The Farm at Watendlath

Rosamond Lehmann, a writer I respect enormously (you will find references to her in this blog) was extremely fond of Carrington.  After her suicide, Lehmann wrote:

"It was such an exciting joy to be with her, always, for me.  Nobody has ever enriched me as she did, and I counted much too much on her love and support - and the intimacy I thought I had with her.  And to think how many others felt the same!"*

Forty years later Rosamond Lehmann wrote to David Garnett, "I never loved any woman as I loved her."*

It would seem that despite her intermittent yearnings for solitude and privacy, Carrington's heart was large and generous indeed.

There you are: a proper love story for this (unfortunate) time of year, and infinitely better than a pink, plastic, heart on a card eh?

By the way, should my scribblings about Carrington give you the impression that she has certain characteristics in common with someone I know (and love) then you would be perfectly correct (see Lehmann quotations above).

* Quoted from Rosamond Lehmann by Selina Hastings (Vintage 2003).

Until the next time.


Anonymous said...

Theirs was a special story indeed! Though I often feel that Strachey got the better end of that deal: the liberty to pursue his amorous adventures AND an adoring companion!

Paul said...

You feel that Strachey got the "better end"? Well, I don't really agree. Carrington had enormous problems herself and married Partridge (whom consider was at least in part a hypocritical shit) under pressure and had she been free to pursue her love for Bresnan who knows? Of course she was trapped by HER love for Strachey - a fact that it is impossible to discount.

It is a tragic story; and I do believe that she and Strachey truly loved each other. How pure was that? And how rare? God knows... After all, imagine being loved like that; one can only dream.

Thanks for your input.