AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF HIS POEM 'FAIR HELENA BY RACKHAM', 14 lines, here with the original title 'De Gustibus' cancelled in pencil and replaced by the final title, the original title with a footnote 'R[obert] B[rowning]', 2 pages, oblong folio, the second leaf evidently somewhat trimmed at the foot but the poem entirely complete, no date [but c. 1909]
"What I love best in all the world"?
When the purple twilight is unbound,
To watch her slow tall grace
And its wistful loveliness,
And to know her face
Is in the shadow there,
Just by two stars beneath that cloud -
- The soft dim cloud of her hair
And to think my voice can reach to her
As but the rumour of some tree-bound stream
Heard just beyond the forests edge
Until she all forgets I am
And knows of me
Naught by my dream's felicity.
ONE OF POUND'S MOST ADMIRED EARLY POEMS, it is an elegant and sensual evocation of his contemplation of his beloved 'When the purple twilight is unbound'.
ENTIRELY AUTOGRAPH POETICAL MANUSCRIPTS BY EZRA POUND ARE UNCOMMON. 'Fair Helena by Rackham' was published in Exultations (1909). The present version differs in one line division and some of the punctuation. The original title 'De Gustibus' refers to a poem of Browning which includes the first line here 'What I love best in all the world.' In the printed text the attribution to Browning is not given.
PROVENANCE: Quentin Keynes.