Thursday, 6 August 2009

Untitled Holograph Poem/Notes

I came across the above on the Abe Books website.

The holograph is being sold by Ken Lopez - Bookseller, ABAA (Hadley, MA, U.S.A.)for £2420.75. Here is his annotation:

Undated, but probably circa 1954-57. A single page, approximately 200 words, with several changes and corrections. The first line of holograph reads: "Story or poem combining:" and Lowry goes on to jot down a number of images, which read as though they may hang together poetically, as a deliberate work, or may just be the jottings, connected in the author's mind, of images and ideas to use in future writing. The first image is "The windmill, sails ever motionless, transfixed over Polegate." He goes on to write: "Polegate a Railway 'Graveyard.'/ Polegate Station is becoming a 'graveyard'/ for old railway wagons. Work began last month/ On breaking up a large number of wagons/ -- Some over 50 years old -- , and, says the Stationmaster,/ Mrs. Roberts, it will continue for years." There is poetic rumination on the after-effects of the breaking up of the wagons, and the choice of Polegate as the site; and on the twenty-four local men who have been hired to do the work, and then the point of view shifts to that of a passenger on a train passing through Polegate: "For some weeks passengers fr [sic]/ from Bewick on the Eastbourne line [?] have watched the/ swan with delight, as she/ sat, unblinking, believing herself/ hidden on her nest./ To-day she was seen for/ the first time with her/ young cygnet." Polegate Windmill is a well-known landmark in Eastbourne, Sussex, England, which was built in 1817. Polegate Station is a stop on the Eastbourne line from London. When Lowry left Canada in 1954, he returned to England where he had been born in 1909, and lived in Ripe, Sussex, not far from Polegate. He was working on a number of different manuscripts at the time of his death from an overdose of sleeping pills, and this sheet seems to fall somewhere between being an attempt at a formal poem and being notes for a scene from a larger work. Edge-creased with one short edge tear, not affecting text. Near fine; housed in custom folder, chemise and slipcase. Manuscript material by Lowry is very scarce: much was destroyed in a fire in Canada, and much since has been institutionalized. While his letters turn up occasionally, this is the first fragment we have had of a piece that has obvious literary intent. Bookseller Inventory # 019208 Abe Books

You can find out more about Polegate Windmill here.

Polegate Station closed in 1986 but you can read about the history of the station on Subterranean Britannica.

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