HARDY (THOMAS) Autograph reworked proof of his poem 'The Going of the Battery', 1899
Lot 79
HARDY (THOMAS) Autograph reworked proof of his poem 'The Going of the Battery', 1899
Sold for £4,375 (US$ 7,353) inc. premium
Lot Details
HARDY (THOMAS)
Autograph reworked proof of his poem 'The Going of the Battery', with a stanza added in his fair-copy hand; "Sharp were those sighs of ours, blinded those eyes of ours,/ When at last moved away under the arch/ All we loved. Aid for them each woman prayed for them/ Treading back slowly the track of the march", with a addition made to the note (describing the circumstances in which the troops left Dorchester Barracks for South Africa in the Boer War); the new version spoken by "wives and mothers" rather than "wives" alone, with further revisions to the next, one page, proof-page mounted, dust-stained, nick to the lower left-hand corner, minor foxing, 8vo, printed date 2 November 1899, revisions made after 28 November 1899

Footnotes

  • HARDY'S 'GOING OF THE BATTERY', COMMEMORATING TROOPS LEAVING DORCHESTER FOR THE BOER WAR. The printed head-note sets the scene of the poem: 'November 2, 1899. Late at night, in rain and in darkness, the 73rd Battery R.F.A. left Dorchester Barracks for the war in South Africa, marching on foot to the railway station, where their guns and horses were already entrained'. This poem was first published in the Graphic on 11 November 1899. Our proof is for the publication of the poem in War Songs, and Songs and Ballads of Martial Life, edited by John Macleay for the Canterbury Poets series, under the general editorship of William Sharp; with the note 'the fourth stanza appears for the first time'. Hardy explained that the poem 'was almost an exact report of the scene & expressions I overheard'. A revised version with an additional opening stanza was collected in Hardy's Poems of the Past and the Present (1901).

    Michael Millgate describes the poem as 'not overtly hostile to the war as such but unromantically and even pathetically insistent upon the bleakness of the particular scene and the deprivation and anxiety of those left behind' adding that, by contrast, 'Hardy was distressed by the unqualified jingoism of Swinburne's sonnet "The Transvaal", published in The Times in mid-October, and wrote to George Gissing specifically to congratulate him on an article in which he had criticized Swinburne's final exhortation, "Strike, England, and strike home", for its irresponsible pandering to "the old blood-thirst"' (Thomas Hardy, pp. 401-2).
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