Tuesday 16 September 2014


'A touch of cold in the Autumn night—
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded,
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.'

A seasonal poem - Autumn - by T.E. Hulme, born on this day in 1883 and killed by an artillery shell in West Flanders in 1917. Autumn, with its stark, spare language and deployment of images as something more than descriptive, is often described as 'the first Imagist poem' (which is perhaps its chief point of interest). It was published in 1909. Hulme's criticism, imbued with a bracing anti-Romanticism, was also pioneering stuff, pre-echoing  T.S. Eliot, having a big influence on Wyndham Lewis, and championing the likes of David Bomberg and Jacob Epstein. The phrase 'spilt religion', which Hulme applied to Romanticism, has, I have found, a thousand and one uses in this supposedly post-religious age.
 Hulme had the distinction of being sent down from Cambridge twice - once for rowdy behaviour on Boat Race night (a la Bertie Wooster), a second time after a scandal involving a Roedean girl. He also on one occasion came to blows with Wyndham Lewis over a woman - an encounter that ended with Lewis dangling by his trouser cuffs from the railings of Great Ormond Street. That would have been a sight to see. 

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