18 April 2013

Poetry Thursday - "Still Life" by Elizabeth Daryush

Through the open French window the warm sun
lights up the polished breakfast-table, laid
round a bowl of crimson roses, for one —
a service of Worcester porcelain, arrayed
near it a melon, peaches, figs, small hot
rolls in a napkin, fairy rack of toast,
butter in ice, high silver coffee-pot,
and, heaped on a silver salver, the morning’s post.
She comes over the lawn, the young heiress,
from her early walk in her garden-wood,
feeling that life’s a table set to bless
her delicate desires with all that’s good,
that even the unopened future lies
like a love-letter, full of sweet surprise.
image from here
I came across this poem - and poet - via a bit of quick research on her father, Robert Bridges. In 1975 Donald Davie bemoaned the neglect of Daryush's poetry: "When an unprejudiced literary history of our century comes to be written, our failure to recognize Elizabeth Daryush will be one of the most telling and lamentable charges that can be laid at our door." The article no doubt arose from his work on the notes of her Collected Poems, published in 1976. 
Elizabeth Daryush (1887-1977) was brought up in Oxford and in 1923 married a Persian student who she met there. Her first book of poems was published in 1911, and many more were published throughout her lifetime. "Still Life" has been called " an ironic critique of the false security of the idle rich". The subject matter of Dayush's best poems is "moral without being didactic—a stoic acceptance of impermanence, the need for discipline, self restraint, and dignity in the face of tragic loss."

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