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Ford Madox Ford


Ford Madox Ford was born Ford Hermann Hueffer on December 17, 1873, in Merton, England. The son of a German music critic and grandson of a Pre-Raphaelite painter, Ford published his first novel, The Shifting of Fire (T. F. Unwin, 1892), at age eighteen.

Often associated with the Imagist movement, Ford was the author of numerous poetry collections, including New Poems (William Edwin Rudge, 1927), Collected Poems (Max Goschen, 1914), High Germany (Duckworth, 1911), and The Face of the Night (J. Macqueen, 1904).

Ford was best known for his novels, particularly The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion (John Lane, 1915), and for his works of literary criticism. In 1914, Ezra Pound wrote, “Mr. Hueffer is the best critic in England, one might say the only critic of any importance.”

The founder of the English Review, Ford is also remembered for his work publishing and encouraging his contemporaries. In the introduction to Collected Poems, he writes, “I have kept before me one unflinching aim—to register my own times in terms of my own time, and still more to urge those who are better poets and better prose-writers than myself to have the same aim.”

He fought in World War I from 1915 to 1917, returning home shell-shocked after the Battle of the Somme. In 1919 he changed his name to Ford Madox Ford. He died in France on June 26, 1939.

Selected Bibliography

Selected Poems (Pym-Randall Press, 1971)
Collected Poems (Oxford University Press, 1936)
New Poems (William Edwin Rudge, 1927)
On Heaven, and Poems Written on Active Service (John Lane, 1918)
Collected Poems (Max Goschen, 1914)
High Germany (Duckworth, 1911)
Songs from London (1910)
Inland (1907)
The Face of the Night (J. Macqueen, 1904)
Poems for Pictures (1900)
The Questions at the Well (1893)

The Last Post (A. & C. Boni, 1928)
No More Parades (A. & C. Boni, 1925)
Some Do Not… (T. Seltzer, 1924)
The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion (John Lane, 1915)
The Shifting of Fire (T. F. Unwin, 1892)

Ford Madox Ford

By This Poet


In Tenebris

All within is warm,
   Here without it's very cold,
   Now the year is grown so old
And the dead leaves swarm.

In your heart is light,
   Here without it's very dark,
   When shall I hear the lark?
When see aright?

Oh, for a moment's space!
   Draw the clinging curtains wide
   Whilst I wait and yearn outside
Let the light fall on my face.

In the Little Old Market-Place

(To the memory of A. V.)

It rains, it rains,
From gutters and drains
And gargoyles and gables:
It drips from the tables
That tell us the tolls upon grains,
Oxen, asses, sheep, turkeys and fowls
Set into the rain-soaked wall
Of the old Town Hall.

The mountains being so tall
And forcing the town on the river,
The market’s so small
That, with the wet cobbles, dark arches and all,
The owls
(For in dark rainy weather the owls fly out
Well before four), so the owls
In the gloom
Have too little room
And brush by the saint on the fountain
In veering about.

The poor saint on the fountain!
Supported by plaques of the giver
To whom we’re beholden;
His name was de Sales
And his wife’s name von Mangel.

(Now is he a saint or archangel?)
He stands on a dragon
On a ball, on a column
Gazing up at the vines on the mountain:
And his falchion is golden
And his wings are all golden.
He bears golden scales
And in spite of the coils of his dragon, without hint of alarm of invective
Looks up at the mists on the mountain.

(Now what saint or archangel
Stands winged on a dragon,
Bearing golden scales and a broad bladed sword all golden?
Alas, my knowledge
Of all the saints of the college,
Of all these glimmering, olden
Sacred and misty stories
Of angels and saints and old glories…
Is sadly defective.)
The poor saint on the fountain…

On top of his column
Gazes up sad and solemn.
But is it towards the top of the mountain
Where the spindrifty haze is
That he gazes?
Or is it into the casement
Where the girl sits sewing?
There’s no knowing.

Hear it rain!
And from eight leaden pipes in the ball he stands on
That has eight leaden and copper bands on,
There gurgle and drain
Eight driblets of water down into the basin.

And he stands on his dragon
And the girl sits sewing
High, very high in her casement
And before her are many geraniums in a parket
All growing and blowing
In box upon box
From the gables right down to the basement
With frescoes and carvings and paint…

The poor saint!
It rains and it rains,
In the market there isn’t an ox,
And in all the emplacement
For waggons there isn’t a waggon,
Not a stall for a grape or a raisin,
Not a soul in the market
Save the saint on his dragon
With the rain dribbling down in the basin,
And the maiden that sews in the casement.

They are still and alone,
Mutterseelens alone,
And the rain dribbles down from his heels and his crown,
From wet stone to wet stone.
It’s grey as at dawn,
And the owls, grey and fawn,
Call from the little town hall
With its arch in the wall,
Where the fire-hooks are stored.

From behind the flowers of her casement
That’s all gay with the carvings and paint,
The maiden gives a great yawn,
But the poor saint—
No doubt he’s as bored!
Stands still on his column
Uplifting his sword
With never the ease of a yawn
From wet dawn to wet dawn…

One Last Prayer

Let me wait, my dear,
One more day,
Let me linger near,
Let me stay.
Do not bar the gate of draw the blind
Or lock the door that yields,
Dear, be kind!

I have only you beneath the skies
To rest my eyes
From the cruel green of the fields
And the cold, white seas
And the weary hills
And the naked trees.
I have known the hundred ills
Of the hated wars.
Do not close the bars,
Or draw the blind.
I have only you beneath the stars:
Dear, be kind!

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