At the heart of the 1890s : essays on Lionel Johnson …

He was born in London as Terence Ian Fytton Armstrong. Part Irish and to a less extent Scottish ("Jacobite" he claimed), he never tired of listing his possible poetic ancestors, direct or remote -- such as Mary Fytton of Gawsworth Hall, reportedly (but not actually) the "Dark Lady" of Shakespeare's sonnets -- or Ben Jonson -- or 1890's aesthete Lionel Johnson -- or Milton's third wife. Though he hated school, never attending a university, he was proud of his graduation from the respected Merchant Taylors' School, where one of his idols had also gone, tragic Edwardian poet Richard Middleton. The school magazine published Armstrong's early bookish verses.

At the Heart of the 1890s: Essays on Lionel Johnson …

At the Heart of the 1890s: Essays on Lionel Johnson: …

At the Heart of the 1890s: Essays on Lionel Johnson

Hunt, however, was too thoroughly accustomed to the rooms
and too indifferent to dirt to be much or long depressed by them.
Having turned up the gas, he took off both his coat and his waist-
coat, for the close office was already uncomfortably warm. Yet it
was bitterly cold without, as became the last night of a March
most lion-like in its departure. Then from his soiled shirt he
removed the perfectly clean and highly polished collar and cuffs.
For neat keeping he placed these in the same drawer in which he
stored his tobacco. Thence he drew forth the next moment a big
briar-wood pipe. Having first regarded this companion of his
nights with much affection, and rubbed the bowl against his nose
to bring out the colour, he proceeded to fill it with tobacco, which
he pressed down with a finely solicitous little finger, and lighted
with deep satisfaction. As the first great puffs of smoke made
vague his features, he threw away the match with a superb dis-
regard of the inflammable piles of paper on the floor, and settled
himself with some show of heartiness to his work.

At the Heart of the 1890s: Essays on Lionel Johnson Gary Paterson, ..

It is easy to say he was born too late. But in the crowded 1890s or amid the many talented Georgians, Gawsworth's imitative tendencies might have made him an inconspicuous lightweight. Operating as he did decades later, as a professional anachronism, his traditional tastes actually gave him a strange strength by way of novelty. Also, he became more modern in desperate self-defense, attempting to purge the sentiment and verbiage that afflicted so many of his heroes. His verse is all the tougher for having been written in the age of Eliot, and later of Dylan Thomas. Its adolescent pain corrodes into a kind of jaded harshness that has its own contemporary tone; such terse brutality offsets his occasional want of imagery. There is also a lack of extended ideas, common enough in a lyric poet. Of course, Gawsworth shunned the long poem, making brevity almost a fault, though it is no less a fault in de la Mare and Emily Dickinson. One of his happiest traits borrowed from his nineties models was the sense of music; with his succinctness, it makes his best poems eminently anthologizable. Quite a few lines stay in the memory, as a glance at the Collected Poems' Index of First Lines suggests. He wrote mediocre verse aplenty, but when the eight hundred or more poems are finally reread, certainly some several dozen should survive as an irreducible Selected Poems. Much of the uncollected verse is at Iowa; countless notebooks also exist with Jon Wynne-Tyson, as yet uncataloged.

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Lionel Johnson Victorian Dark Angel by Richard ..

Then his mother left for Canada, divorcing a father whom the son claimed hated him. Left behind, teenaged Armstrong worked for a bookdealer, while also buying and selling rarities on his own. He was rapidly acquiring countless volumes of nineties, Edwardian, and Georgian poets who would greatly influence his own poetry. Soon he was compiling bibliographies of those who were still living, seeking them out, occasionally lobbying to get them Civil List pensions. Often they gave him books and manuscripts; he would scout out other of their forgotten or unpublished works in bookstores and auction rooms. His discoveries began appearing under the aegis of his pen name, "John Gawsworth." As he progressed to editing magazines, the influx of poetry manuscripts and inscribed. presentation copies mounted. To the end of his life Gawsworth trafficked in poetry books and poets' letters and memorabilia.

Fishpond Australia, At the Heart of the 1890s: Essays on Lionel Johnson (AMS Studies in the Nineteenth-Century) by Gary H Paterson. Buy Books online: At the Heart …

From The Poetical Works of Lionel Johnson, 1915

Another anthology was the quaint The Muse of Monarchy (1937), assembling the poems of the kings and queens of England. Did Gawsworth have deluded aspirations to the laureateship? A journalist in 1960 would assert that he had once been considered as Masefield's eventual successor. This is probably fiction, though in a satirical novel about poets vying for the post (Dylan Thomas and John Davenport, The Death of the King's Canary, 1976), Gawsworth is lampooned, along with brighter names, as Mallow, a bibulous bibliophile. Certainly he had compulsive laureate tendencies, writing adequate elegiac verses to Edward Thomas, M. P. Spiel, George VI, and Dylan Thomas, among others. With good-natured fin-de-siecle unction, many of his verses, too, are dedicated to the living.

At the Heart of the 1890s: Essays on Lionel Johnson - AMS Studies in the Nineteenth-century (Hardback) Gary H. Paterson (author)

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Gawsworth began issuing his own verses in 1890s-like broadsides and pamphlets. His first collection, Confession (1931), has a title that is perhaps only the wishful sinning of a 19 year old. This figurative worldliness is further evoked by "swaying Bacchanates" and Dowson-like ashes of "dead desire." Ernest Dowson's ghost hovers over Kingcup (1932) as well, with "sick at heart" (twice), "laughter and wine," and "I was desolate." Reviewers complained, and in later editions the offending examples are dropped or corrected ("sick at heart" becoming "tired of heart"). Actually Kingcup was praised by Lawrence Durrell; and Mishka and Madeleine (1932 ), despite its Beardsleyesque art, contains some strong Shakespearean sonnets such as "Carpe Diem":