Letter by CJD to R.H. Croll 1914.03.19

March 19/14

Dear Rob,

While the iron is hot let me have it out with you about that first line. In the first place, I never attempt to scan my stuff - it would be fatal to the 'swing" that the critics praise. If it suits my ear it goes; and my ear doesn't agree with yours about line 1.

I set out by making a direct statement with a full stop, and, in Hellenic style, repeat the statement, elaborated in lines 2 and 3. There must be no sing song about it; if the accents are right it goes.

   "Lord, (pause) Thou has giv'n unto us a land."

I defy you to make a single syllable of "giv'n". If you don't sound it in your mouth you do it in your nose. To my ear one of the flaws in Omar is the attempt to make a single syllable of "sev'n" in "Yesterday's sev'n thousand years." To my mind "Yester's seven thousand years" would have been much better.

Of course the other (doth for doct) is just damned carelessness.

Your eagle eye missed a 'orrid bloomer in last verse, line 3.
   "He spurns the gift who guardeth"

All the same, thanks for the criticism. I take it kindly that you should go to the trouble of pointing these things out and I trust it will become a habit.

There once was a fellow called Croll,
Who loved to hear periods roll
   On his musical tongue.
   It is he who has sung,
"Ev'n sev'n heav'ns giv'n buy not my soul".

Your joke did not misfire. The "Herald" arrived and there was no excess postage.

Have finished "irregular verse" and am on to a "Lone Hand" yarn.


PS. Has Roberts asked you to decipher the message I sent him?

CROLL Collection MS 8910, 1202/1(b) - State Library of Victoria.

This letter discusses the poem Hymn of Futility which was first published in the Bulletin on April 16 1914.
The Lone Hand "yarn" mentioned in the letter is most probably "Sassafrasus", which was published in the magazine in the May 1914 issue.
In the postscript the "Roberts" is John Garibaldi Roberts. The meaning of the note is unknown at this time.

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002