The Grave of Edward Lear

Mr. Eden Phillpotts, […] who lives in Devonshire and spends all his time in the beautiful English country, has written a book called “My Garden,” which will be published by the English Country Life. It is the thoughts of a literary man who is something of a gardener. There is no subject upon which Mr. Phillpotts writes that he does not illuminate, and I hope that some enterprising American publisher will soon issue his garden book.

Mr. Phillpotts has been good enough to send me a sonnet on ” The Grave of Edward Lear” that he published recently in that admirable journal, The Tribune, of London. Here it is:

Amid the silent lodges of the dead,
Beneath the terraced hills of Italy,
He lies, with sunny cypress at his head
And mourning purple of the fleur-de-lys
Upon his marble. Roses white and red
Twine there, and round about the mystery
Of olive groves their twinkling silver spread
Along the sapphire of the Inland Sea.
Sleep, laughter-maker of a vanished day.
What merry jester of them all can vie
With your mad fancies, whimsical and gay?
No sorrow here! We’ll pass this pillow by
In happiness of gracious thoughts, and pay
The tribute of a smile; but not a sigh.

In sending this sonnet to The Tribune, Mr. Phillpotts wrote:

Among the notes and sketches brought home with me from my holiday in France and Italy, I find this little sonnet, written last month. Edward Lear, the famous author of the ‘Nonsense Book’ — perhaps the first real nonsense book ever written — lies at San Remo, and his flowery grave inspired these lines.

It is not all of us who could express our feelings for Edward Lear as gracefully as Mr. Phillpotts has done. We all love him, and have loved him from our childhood to older age. He has left no successor. There are any number of men and women writing nonsense, but it is not the nonsense of Edward Lear.

The Critic, vol. 49, no. 1, July 1906, pp. 11-3.

Eden Phillpotts‘s poem was then published in his Wild Fruit (London: John Lane, 1911, p. 100).

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