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G.S. Fraser: Surrealist successor for New Apocalyptics poetry group

He wrote The White Horseman, and soon after rose to prominence in London’s literary scene

  • Home Town Elegy
  • (For Aberdeen in Spring)
  • Glitter of mica at the windy corners,
  • Tar in the nostrils, under blue lamps budding 
  • Like bubbles of glass the blue buds of a tree,
  • Night-shining shopfronts, or the sleek sun flooding 
  • The broad abundant dying sprawl of the Dee:
  • For these and for their like my thoughts are mourners
  • That yet shall stand, though I come home no more,
  • Gas-works, white ballroom, and the red brick baths 
  • And salmon nets along a mile of shore,
  • Or beyond the municipal golf-course, the moorland paths
  • And the country lying quiet and full of farms.
  • This is the shape of a land that outlasts a strategy
  • And is not to be taken with rhetoric or arms.
  • Or my own room, with a dozen books on the bed
  • (Too late, still musing what I mused, I lie
  • And read too lovingly what I have read),
  • Brantome, Spinoza, Yeats, the bawdy and wise,
  • Continuing their interminable debate,
  • With no conclusion, they conclude too late,
  • When their wisdom has fallen like a grey pall on my eyes.
  • Syne we maun part, there sall be nane remeid— 
  • Unless my country is my pride, indeed,
  • Or I can make my town that homely fame
  • That Byron has, from boys in Carden Place,
  • Struggling home with books to midday dinner,
  • For whom he is not the romantic sinner,
  • The careless writer, the tormented face,
  • The hectoring bully or the noble fool,
  • But, just like Gordon or like Keith, a name:
  • A tall, proud statue at the Grammar School.
  • For Katie on Her Eighteenth Birthday
  • O little daughter of delight
  • And grave and lovely growing girl
  • Years after year you see the white
  • Snow flurry and pink blossoms swirl,
  • Year after year spontaneous joy
  • Drives you to pick up brush and pen,
  • Paint and translate and make a toy
  • Of what is labour to most men.
  • Spontaneously you make things grow
  • Out of your fingers and your eyes,
  • For what you feel you also know,
  • And what you see you realise
  • In growing art in shape or word
  • Or colour or a story told.
  • And yet you laugh, it is absurd
  • You think, it is all fairy gold.
  • And sometimes sorrow clouds your eyes
  • And anger for man’s suffering lot
  • And noble indignations rise
  • Harsh from your heart, and sharply hot.
  • But always still the white snow swirls,
  • And always still the blossoms flurry,
  • And you, the dearest of all girls,
  • May take your time and not hurry.
G.S. Fraser

G.S. Fraser (1915-1980) was a Scottish poet and one of the main contributors to the New Apocalyptics, a group of poets who reacted to the staid realism produced by writers of the 1930s with poems that Fraser claimed had become the true successors of the surrealist school of poetry established by the previous generation in the 1920s. Fraser wrote the introductory essay to the New Apocalyptics’ first anthology of poems, The White Horseman (1941), and soon after rose to prominence in London’s literary scene. Fraser was also a professor of English at Leicester University and a renowned literary critic.

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  • Home Town Elegy
  • (For Aberdeen in Spring)
  • Glitter of mica at the windy corners,
  • Tar in the nostrils, under blue lamps budding 
  • Like bubbles of glass the blue buds of a tree,
  • Night-shining shopfronts, or the sleek sun flooding 
  • The broad abundant dying sprawl of the Dee:
  • For these and for their like my thoughts are mourners
  • That yet shall stand, though I come home no more,
  • Gas-works, white ballroom, and the red brick baths 
  • And salmon nets along a mile of shore,
  • Or beyond the municipal golf-course, the moorland paths
  • And the country lying quiet and full of farms.
  • This is the shape of a land that outlasts a strategy
  • And is not to be taken with rhetoric or arms.
  • Or my own room, with a dozen books on the bed
  • (Too late, still musing what I mused, I lie
  • And read too lovingly what I have read),
  • Brantome, Spinoza, Yeats, the bawdy and wise,
  • Continuing their interminable debate,
  • With no conclusion, they conclude too late,
  • When their wisdom has fallen like a grey pall on my eyes.
  • Syne we maun part, there sall be nane remeid— 
  • Unless my country is my pride, indeed,
  • Or I can make my town that homely fame
  • That Byron has, from boys in Carden Place,
  • Struggling home with books to midday dinner,
  • For whom he is not the romantic sinner,
  • The careless writer, the tormented face,
  • The hectoring bully or the noble fool,
  • But, just like Gordon or like Keith, a name:
  • A tall, proud statue at the Grammar School.
  • For Katie on Her Eighteenth Birthday
  • O little daughter of delight
  • And grave and lovely growing girl
  • Years after year you see the white
  • Snow flurry and pink blossoms swirl,
  • Year after year spontaneous joy
  • Drives you to pick up brush and pen,
  • Paint and translate and make a toy
  • Of what is labour to most men.
  • Spontaneously you make things grow
  • Out of your fingers and your eyes,
  • For what you feel you also know,
  • And what you see you realise
  • In growing art in shape or word
  • Or colour or a story told.
  • And yet you laugh, it is absurd
  • You think, it is all fairy gold.
  • And sometimes sorrow clouds your eyes
  • And anger for man’s suffering lot
  • And noble indignations rise
  • Harsh from your heart, and sharply hot.
  • But always still the white snow swirls,
  • And always still the blossoms flurry,
  • And you, the dearest of all girls,
  • May take your time and not hurry.
G.S. Fraser

G.S. Fraser (1915-1980) was a Scottish poet and one of the main contributors to the New Apocalyptics, a group of poets who reacted to the staid realism produced by writers of the 1930s with poems that Fraser claimed had become the true successors of the surrealist school of poetry established by the previous generation in the 1920s. Fraser wrote the introductory essay to the New Apocalyptics’ first anthology of poems, The White Horseman (1941), and soon after rose to prominence in London’s literary scene. Fraser was also a professor of English at Leicester University and a renowned literary critic.

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