FLECKER, JAMES ELROY (1884-1915)
(i) MANUSCRIPT OF THE PROLOGUE AND EPILOGUE OF HIS BEST-KNOWN POEM 'THE GOLDEN JOURNEY TO SAMARKAND', 106 lines mostly in four-line stanzas, marked up for the printer, signed twice by Flecker ('James Elroy Flecker') and the general heading 'The Golden Journey to Samarkand' in his handwriting, the body of the work in the handwriting of Flecker's wife, according to an accompanying note by Harold Monro [and an enclosed photocopy of an autograph letter by her] in which he gives details of the publication of the poem in Poetry and Drama, also with a significant accompanying autograph letter signed by Flecker to Monro, the poem 6 pages, quarto, half red morocco slip case, Monro's note dated 1928 [the poem, 1913]
We who with songs beguile your pilgrimage
And swear that beauty lives though lilies die;
We pots of the proud old lineage
Who sing to find your hearts we know and why...
And we have boys and girls, of special Kinds,
With brown and black, fragile or fair or strong
Their bosoms shame the roses: their behinds
Impel the astonished nightingales to song...
We travel not for trafficking alone
By hotter winds our fiery hearts are famed
For lust of knowing what should not be known
We make the Golden journey to Samarkand...
(ii) AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED, TO HAROLD MONRO in which Flecker expresses his confidence in the poem ('...its no good saying you dont like it because everyone says its the best poem I (or perhaps anyone else -- I borrow this hearty egoism from John Davidson - its a shame that it should be the only mannerism that still pays -- has ever written...'); informs him that the epilogue was written as a poem in itself but he is turning it into the final scene; challenges Monro for not revealing the name of the writer who was lukewarm about his work ('...grrr...'); writes in favour of the Eastern Christian and attributes all that is good in Istanbul to him; asks him to send some books to Davidson; and makes two jocular asides about money, 3 pages, small quarto, written 'chez Madame Skiadaressi [his wife Helle's maiden name] in Paris, 27 December [no year, but 1913].
(iii) AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT of verses written in a neat upright hand which also appears in a photocopy of a letter by Flecker and of another manuscript. Both would suggest that Flecker had two styles of handwriting. It is subscribed 'Eteocles' and comprises 21 lines.
The autograph manuscript of 'The Golden Journey to Samarkand' is in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (see Croft, Autograph Poetry in the English Language, 1973, where the first page is illustrated). The Bodleian Library houses the largest number of Flecker's literary manuscripts in Britain; there are also collections at Austin, Texas, and Harvard.
PROVENANCE: David Holmes.