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Richard Aldington

1892–1962

Richard Aldington was born Edward Godfree Aldington on July 8, 1892, in Hampshire, England. He studied at Dover College and London University. He became friends with Ezra Pound and was an early member of the Imagist movement, publishing the poetry collection Images Old and New (The Four Seas Company, 1916). He married the poet H. D., another important figure in Imagism, in 1913; they divorced in 1938. 

In 1916 Aldington joined the British Army and went on to serve in the Royal Sussex Regiment in France. He began publishing poems about the war soon after; in February 1918, he wrote a letter to a friend: “It may seem to you that I have been almost wantonly morbid in these war poems…. You cannot know, you cannot understand, where you are, the mentality of the soldier—the profound shattering of the nerves, the over-wrought tension, the intensity of sensation which come to him.”

He published numerous volumes of poetry, including The Complete Poems of Richard Aldington (A. Wingate, 1948), Exile, and Other Poems (G. Allen & Unwin, 1923), and Images of War (G. Allen & Unwin, 1919). He was also known for his novels, including Death of a Hero () and his biographies, most famously Lawrence of Arabia (1955).

Aldington died in France on July 27, 1962.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
The Complete Poems of Richard Aldington (A. Wingate, 1948)
The Crystal World (W. Heinemann, 1937)
The Poems of Richard Aldington (Doubleday, 1934)
Collected Poems (Covici, Friede, 1928)
The Love of Myrrhine and Konallis, and Other Prose Poems (P. Covici, 1926)
Exile, and Other Poems (G. Allen & Unwin, 1923)
War and Love (1915–1919) (The Four Seas Company, 1919)
Images of War (G. Allen & Unwin, 1919)
Images (The Egoist, 1919)
Images Old and New (The Four Seas Company, 1916)

Prose
Introduction to Mistral (Heinemann, 1956)
Lawrence of Arabia (Collins, 1955)
Life for Life’s Sake: A Book of Reminiscences (The Viking Press, 1941)
Artifex, Sketches and Ideas (Chatto & Windus, 1935)
Women Must Work (Doubleday, 1934)
The Colonel’s Daughter (Doubleday, 1931)
Roads to Glory (Chato & Windus, 1930)
Death of a Hero (Covici, Friede, 1929)
Remy de Gourmont, A Modern Man of Letters (University of Washington, 1928)
D. H. Lawrence: An Indiscretion (University of Washington, 1927)
French Studies and Reviews (G. Allen & Unwin, 1926)
Voltaire (E. P. Dutton, 1925)
Literary Studies and Reviews (Dial Press, 1924)

By This Poet

12

Images

I

Like a gondola of green scented fruits	 
Drifting along the dank canals of Venice,	 
You, O exquisite one,	 
Have entered into my desolate city.	 
  
II

The blue smoke leaps	         
Like swirling clouds of birds vanishing.	 
So my love leaps forth toward you,	 
Vanishes and is renewed.	 
  
III

A rose-yellow moon in a pale sky	 
When the sunset is faint vermilion	  
In the mist among the tree-boughs	 
Art thou to me, my beloved.	 
  
IV

A young beech tree on the edge of the forest	 
Stands still in the evening,	 
Yet shudders through all its leaves in the light air	  
And seems to fear the stars—	 
So are you still and so tremble.	 
  
V

The red deer are high on the mountain,	 
They are beyond the last pine trees.	 
And my desires have run with them.	  
  
VI

The flower which the wind has shaken	 
Is soon filled again with rain;	 
So does my heart fill slowly with tears,	 
O Foam-Driver, Wind-of-the-Vineyards,	 
Until you return.

The Poplar

Why do you always stand there shivering
Between the white stream and the road?

The people pass through the dust
On bicycles, in carts, in motor-cars;
The waggoners go by at dawn;
The lovers walk on the grass path at night.

Stir from your roots, walk, poplar!
You are more beautiful than they are.

I know that the white wind loves you,
Is always kissing you and turning up
The white lining of your green petticoat.
The sky darts through you like blue rain,
And the grey rain drips on your flanks
And loves you.
And I have seen the moon
Slip his silver penny into your pocket
As you straightened your hair;
And the white mist curling and hesitating
Like a bashful lover about your knees.

I know you, poplar;
I have watched you since I was ten.
But if you had a little real love,
A little strength,
You would leave your nonchalant idle lovers
And go walking down the white road
Behind the waggoners.

There are beautiful beeches
Down beyond the hill.
Will you always stand there shivering?

A Moment's Interlude

One night I wandered alone from my comrades’ huts;
The grasshoppers chirped softly
In the warm misty evening;
Bracken fronds beckoned from the darkness
With exquisite frail green fingers;
The tree gods muttered affectionately about me,
And from the distance came the grumble of a kindly train.

I was so happy to be alone,
So full of love for the great speechless earth,
That I could have laid my cheek in the wet grasses
And caressed with my lips the hard sinewy body
Of Earth, the cherishing mistress of bitter lovers. 

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