Wednesday, 1 August 2007

A question of attribution

Now, here’s an interesting conundrum: the poem below was posted on the ‘contact’ page on my main website, , as my new ‘poem of the week’. I couldn't remember who wrote it, but the website on which I located it, , says it’s by Lady Blanche Elizabeth Lindsay (b. 1844):

Alas, that my heart is a lute,
Whereon you have learn’d to play!
For a many years it was mute,
Until one summer’s day
You took it, and touch’d it, and made it thrill,
And it thrills and throbs, and quivers still!

I had known you, dear, so long!
Yet my heart did not tell me why
It should burst one morn into song,
And wake to new life with a cry,
Like a babe that sees the light of the sun,
And for whom this great world has just begun.

Your lute is enshrin’d, cas’d in,
Kept close with love’s magic key,
So no hand but yours can win
And wake it to minstrelsy;
Yet leave it not silent too long, nor alone,
Lest the strings should break, and the music be done.

Then today somebody who’d been looking at my website got in touch to say that it was in fact written, considerably earlier, by one Anne Barnard (1750-1825). Naturally, I Googled straight away and, sure enough, the first entry that came up for the poem, , attributes it to Anne Barnard and to be found in Burton Egbert’s The Home Book of Verse. The second entry is the one I originally found, which ascribes it to Blanche Lindsay and appearing in Edmund Clarence Stedman’s A Victorian Anthology. And these seem to be the only two entries on the matter (although there’s no shortage of other poems concerning hearts and lutes, including one by Benjamin Disraeli: My heart is like a silent lute/Some faithless hand has thrown aside/The chords are dumb, those tones are mute/That once sent forth a voice of pride . . . etc etc etc).

Soooooooo, who is right? Who is this poem by? Can anybody out there help? Please leave a comment if you can!*

Scampi and chips from the island chippery tonight: With lashings of mushy peas, naturally. What could be nicer, unless it be fresh from the Tobermory Chip Van ? There’s a review at which gets it absolutely right. The fish is so fresh it’s practically wriggling in its batter, but I have to confess that, delicious though the fish is, I’ve a serious penchant for haggis and chips. Well, when in Rome etc (except that I suspect that it’s laid on mainly, or possibly exclusively, for the tourists, rather than the locals). Unfortunately, it was far too early in the evening to contemplate washing it down with a can of Guinness, but I have my eye on one that I noticed in the fridge for later on.

Raced out for a walk round the boatyard at around 8.30, hoping to catch the most glorious light and fabulous drifts of lacy clouds, but sadly by the time I’d got down there, the sun had disappeared behind a low bank of thick cloud and the best of the light was gone. I took some photos but they came out looking very dull. Still, at least I burned off about two and a half chips’-worth of calories in the process.

Did you know that Anthony Burgess had a tortoise called Bucephalus? I used to, but had forgotten, until something suddenly reminded me today.

*Re which, I have now set up this blog to allow comments, but I get to read and ‘moderate’ them before they are posted. Unfortunately, there are lots of people out there posting blog ‘comments’ which are in fact a load of old spam (as if our email in-boxes weren’t full enough of the stuff already) and I have no intention of allowing my blog to become a repository for ads for anatomical enhancements of one variety or another. It also means that, if you so desire, comments can be for my eyes only and not for public display.

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