A note from Olivia Guest at Jonathan Clowes Ltd.

lessingI am thrilled to have received the following note from Olivia Guest regarding my licence to carry Doris Lessing’s poems, here on Poethead.

EDIT: 17/11/2013 I am sorry to hear of the passing of Doris Lessing today.

Dear Christine

We’d be delighted for you to host the poems for longer especially if you’re getting such good reactions. Doris Lessing was never very keen on her poetry and didn’t think it was any good so I doubt we will see a re-issue but at least this way, they are available in an alternative form.
 
Many thanks and best wishes
 
Olivia


Doris Lessing’s Poems

Olivia Guest of Jonathan Clowes Ltd. has informed me today that they are willing to extend my Doris Lessing licence and so I have returned the poems here. Thanks to Olivia and Jonathan Clowes for an extended opportunity to share Doris Lessing’s work on Poethead. 


I spent some time in 2011 looking for permission to host two Doris Lessing poems on Poethead. In 2011 Lessing’s literary agents, Jonathan Clowes Ltd. very kindly permitted a limited copyright for ‘Fable’ and ‘Oh Cherry Trees You Are Too White For My Heart’ to be carried on this blog for a longer period.

I  have blogged about Doris Lessing, Nobel Laureate, writer and poet both on this blog and on Open Salon blogs. I thought to publish the Lessing search-engine terms and statistics since my publication of the poems in 2011.

Doris Lessing’s Poems, statistics (to date)

 

I have recently opened Poethead on Open Salon as an experiment in widening out the blog’s readership. Blog hits both on Lessing, and on Dorothy L. Sayers translations of The Commedia have increased since then . The following is a link to the Salon post on the Lessing collections at the McFarlin Library,University of Tulsa.

Discussion about the permissions and transcription process for the Lessings are available here.  For my last month of hosting the works I will likely Tweet the poems on a weekly basis at http://www.twitter.com/Celizmurray .

‘Fable’, and ‘Oh Cherry Trees You are Too White For My Heart’, two poems by Doris Lessing

Fable

When I look back I seem to remember singing.
Yet it was always silent in that long warm room.

Impenetrable , those walls , we thought,
Dark with ancient shields.  The light
Shone on the head of a girl or young limbs
Spread carelessly. And the low voices
Rose in the silence and were lost as in water.

Yet, for all it was quiet and warm as a hand,
If one of us drew the curtains
A threaded rain blew carelessly outside.
Sometimes a wind crept, swaying the flames,
And set shadows crouching on the walls,
Or a wolf howled in the wide night outside,
And feeling our flesh chilled we drew together.

But for a while the dance went on -
That is how it seems to me now:
Slow forms moving calm through
Pools of light like gold net on the floor.
It might have gone on, dream-like, for ever.

But between one year and the next – a new wind blew ?
The rain rotted the walls at last ?
Wolves’ snouts came thrusting at the fallen beams ?

It  is so long ago.
But sometimes I remember the curtained room
And hear the far-off youthful voices singing.

 Fable  from Fourteen Poems by Doris Lessing

 

Oh Cherry trees you are too white for my heart

Oh Cherry trees you are too white for my heart,
And all the ground is whitened with your dying,
And all your boughs go dipping towards the river,
And every drop is falling from my heart.’

Now if there is justice in the angel with the bright eyes
He will say ‘Stop!’ and hand me a bough of cherry.
The bearded angel, four-square and straight like a goat
Lifts a ruminant head and slowly chews at the snow.

Goat, must you stand here?
Must you stand here still?
Is it that you will always stand here,
Proof against faith, proof against innocence ?

Oh Cherry Trees You Are too White For My Heart, from Fourteen Poems , by Doris Lessing.
 

Oh Cherry Trees You Are Too White For My Heart and Fable, two Poems 1959 are Copyright Doris Lessing, are reprinted by kind permission of Jonathan Clowes Ltd., London , on behalf of Doris Lessing. Olivia Guest from Jonathan Clowes Ltd. has informed me this morning that the licence for transmitting these poems has been extended for the period of one year  !

 

Author and Poet Doris Lessing

Poems by Doris Lessing.

Fourteen Poems

Fable

When I look back I seem to remember singing.
Yet it was always silent in that long warm room.

Impenetrable , those walls , we thought,
Dark with ancient shields.  The light
Shone on the head of a girl or young limbs
Spread carelessly. And the low voices
Rose in the silence and were lost as in water.

Yet, for all it was quiet and warm as a hand,
If one of us drew the curtains
A threaded rain blew carelessly outside.
Sometimes a wind crept, swaying the flames,
And set shadows crouching on the walls,
Or a wolf howled in the wide night outside,
And feeling our flesh chilled we drew together.

But for a while the dance went on -
That is how it seems to me now:
Slow forms moving calm through
Pools of light like gold net on the floor.
It might have gone on, dream-like, for ever.

But between one year and the next – a new wind blew ?
The rain rotted the walls at last ?
Wolves’ snouts came thrusting at the fallen beams ?

It  is so long ago.
But sometimes I remember the curtained room
And hear the far-off youthful voices singing.

.

 Fable, a poem  1959 is Copyright Doris Lessing, and is reprinted here by kind permission of Jonathan Clowes Ltd., London , on behalf of Doris Lessing. Olivia Guest from Jonathan Clowes Ltd


Pictured are two books of published poetry by Nobel Laureate and writer Doris Lessing (1919-2013). I am intrigued by each of the books. I thought to add some information on the status of the books and their current locations, but information is quite scanty. Thus I will be blogging the process.

Fourteen Poems by Doris Lessing , published 1959 by Scorpion Press, is  unavailable, although I have located a copy in a library in a university library in Dublin.

The  Scorpion Press closed in  the 1970s, according to this Wikipedia  entry. Some  articles from the press were obtained by the McFarlin Library, Special Collections at the University of Tulsa. I am adding here the link.

The original link (Lessing’s  Scorpion/ Northwood titles) details the names of the Fourteen Poems which  were published in 1959, 

  •  Under a Low Cold Sky
  • Older Woman to Younger Man (1)
  • Older Woman to Younger Man (2)
  • Plea for the Hated Dead Woman
  • Bars
  • Dark Girl’s Song
  • New Man
  • Night-Talk
  • Song
  • Exiled
  • Oh Cherry Trees you are too white for my heart’
  • Fable
  • In Time of Dryness
  • Jealousy

McFarlin obtained Lessing’s correspondence in relation to the pamphlet: Lessing, Doris Correspondence in reference to Fourteen Poems.

.

Inpopa Anthology

 The list of poems from The Inpopa Anthology 2002 are:

The Wolf People 

  • In the Long Dark
  • The Misfit
  • As If They Had Always Known It
  • Cave Wolves
  • Something Speaks
  • The Sky-fire
  • The Ice Comes
Both  sets of  poems from Ms Lessing’s Opus are listed in her published works, I for one, am incredibly curious to read her poetic writing and have applied for more information to the special collections at the McFarlin Library at Tulsa University.   I will update this post when I get  more information about the poems.
I am adding here Lessing’s list  of published works,
.
Since it is Saturday and the day that I generally highlight the work of a woman writer, editor or translator. I thought to link to a story by Doris Lessing from the New Yorker Magazine, as a special treat:

.
Thanks to Alison Greenlee,  Special Collections Librarian at the University of Tulsa, for information about the Scorpion Press archive.

A Saturday Woman Writer , Doris Lessing.

Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing

I have referred here before to the book that creeps me out the most,The Fifth Child , indeed I took down my copy again last night to read up for today’s post; but I ended up deweeding the garden where my tree was being invaded by a parasitic  alien Clematis, and my rose’s roots being pushed up out of the ground by rogue bamboo shoots. I  Am sore and embattled after taking up the roots. I digress, read Doris Lessing for intricate mature writing.


I am not so fond of the sci-fi stuff but do adore also The Golden Notebook, which I have not read in a small while.

Very few readers get to enjoy that peculiar attention to detail of the real writer, indeed in Plath, Lessing and Lavin it is most evident. Plath referred to it as The thinginess of things , it is a fine lacemakers attention to detail, which we mostly miss in an era of mass-media noise . I have read many books but this unique quality ismost evident in women writers, I think I’ll throw in Julian of Norwich there whose unique use of description has lasted centuries. I suppose I do get amazed whilst reading media and other modernist pap tha the woman’s voice and attentiveness is so wholly absent, except maybe in some historical writing – most notably in Lady Fraser’s writing.

So, on a busy morning I wanted to recommend the writing of Doris Lessing, the Poetry of Sylvia Plath, the short stories of Mary Lavin and the historical writing of Antonia Fraser. There is an excerpt linked at the base of this short note, along with an image by Ann Madden, whose Megaliths series seemed appropriate to the content.

Excerpt from the Fifth Child
Mary Lavin
Lady Antonia Fraser
Doris Lessing org.

The Fifth Child