Manuscript book of poetry.

LAWRENCE T.E.; DUNN G.W.M. (1933.)


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c. 135 leaves of laid machine-made paper watermarked "Queen of Scots / Extra Fine", bound in unlettered blue limp morocco. 69 poems in three sections, neatly written in black ink, many with pencil corrections, alterations and commentaries by the author: manuscript presentation on the first leaf "For T. E. Shaw from G.W.M. Dunn 3.4.33"

A fine souvenir of Lawrence's R.A.F. days. Dunn was an airman and poet who must have served with Lawrence at Mount Batten. He wrote an essay on his friendship with him for T.E. Lawrence by his Friends and it was under Lawrence's influence that Cape published a book of verse by him called Poems. - Group One in 1934, an inscribed copy, dated "Hendon, 1934" of which is included with this.

Both the composition and the presentation as well as the poems' ultimate publication owe an obvious debt to Lawrence. The ink is as black as Lawrence's own, the handwriting, with a slight backward slant, is deceptively similar, and the verse itself is in a Housman/ Sassoon vein which must have been sympathetic to Lawrence. The verses are fair copies rather than working manuscripts, though there are some quite substantial pencil corrections, and it seems likely that this was written out for presentation to Lawrence and that Lawrence then forwarded the whole book to Cape to consider for publication. We haven't been able to find a copy of the published book itself but there is an indication as to what was published in the presence of faint pencil ticks or crosses on each poem. The implication of this is that some of the poems are unpublished, and certainly the manuscript alterations are fairly significant.The poems in the first section, "Early Poems", are mostly reflective and rural in inspiration, and gradually become more specific, with more direct references to the service life and much machine imagery "Your engine songs, barbaric with blood . . "; "wheel clutches wheel, the piston heart makes song,". A poem called "Marriage Rhapsody" which is about sex (My lips are laid on rose-soft mountains, / My eyes gaze deep in pools of peace. / My fingers touch the troubled fountains. Rising and crying for quick release . . . The mountains shudder, the mighty sea / Wells up and bursts its heart in me . . .") has Dunn's pencil note at the end "Remarkably good for starting an airman in the reading of poetry - they all appreciate this."

One of the great features of Lawrence'a later service life was the ability he had to communicate the joy of "culture" to otherwise resolutely unaesthetic types. We can't be sure whether Dunn was one of his converts or a sympathetic proselytiser, but either way this manuscript goes right to the heart of Lawrence's efforts to humanize life in the ranks.

Stock Code: 225811

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