Sunday, September 27, 2015

Unfinished Traceries

F. L. Lucas on Thomas Lovell Beddoes:

"At war within, he spared neither his country, nor his contemporaries, nor himself -- poor dramatist devoid of dramatic gift! But he was too hard on his own work. It is difficult to read through. I have done so twice, and never shall again. But I return with ever fresh astonishment to his fragments. The unfinished traceries, the ruined aisles of this gaunt sham-Gothic cathedral that he left half-built and roofless to the scorn of Time, will outlast many a newer and more finished edifice; saved by the almost unearthly perfectness of here a carved line, there a sculptured monster; and by the strange owl-light of its atmosphere in which Death's Jester wandered to his early and disastrous end. There is often more quintessential poetry, I feel, in three lines of his than in as many pages of other poets not without repute. Only wreckage remains of him; but enough to sustain his memory in that sea of Eternity into which he heard Time's river falling, himself so soon to fall."

From "The Playboy of the Netherworld," in
Studies French And English, by F. L. Lucas. Books For Libraries Press, New York, 1969 (Original publication, 1934).

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