Saturday, February 28, 2009

Three Authors and a Poem

Carson McCullers took the title for her novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, from a poem by William Sharp - "The Lonely Hunter." William Sharp was a Scottish poet (1855-1905), journalist, and editor who also wrote under the pseudonym Fiona MacLeod. Fiona often published works in the style of the " Celtic Twilight School" popularized by William Butler Yeats. The writing was mystical, imaginative, mythical. Sharp's double identity was kept secret from the public. His sister Mary and his mother were called on to provide correspondence from Fiona MacLeod in an authentic woman's handwriting. Fiona MacLeod was enjoying a successful career and Sharp could not let her go until his death. When Fiona's true identity was revealed, it caused a scandal.

"The Lonely Hunter" was one of many poems written by Fiona MacLeod aka William Sharp.

Green branches, green branches, I see you beckon; I follow!
Sweet is the place you guard, there in the rowan-tree hollow.
There he lies in the darkness, under the frail white flowers,
Heedless at last, in the silence, of these sweet midsummer hours.

But sweeter, it may be, the moss whereon he is sleeping now,
And sweeter the fragrant flowers that may crown his moon-white brow:
And sweeter the shady place deep in an Eden hollow
Wherein he dreams I am with him — and, dreaming, whispers, “Follow!”

Green wind from the green-gold branches, what is the song you bring?
What are all songs for me, now, who no more care to sing?
Deep in the heart of Summer, sweet is life to me still,
But my heart is a lonely hunter that hunts on a lonely hill.

Green is that hill and lonely, set far in a shadowy place;
White is the hunter’s quarry, a lost-loved human face:
O hunting heart, shall you find it, with arrow of failing breath,
Led o’er a green hill lonely by the shadowy hound of Death?

Green branches, green branches, you sing of a sorrow olden,
But now it is midsummer weather, earth-young, sun-ripe, golden:
Here I stand and I wait, here in the rowan-tree hollow,
But never a green leaf whispers, “Follow, oh, Follow, Follow!”

O never a green leaf whispers, where the green-gold branches swing:
O never a song I hear now, where one was wont to sing.
Here in the heart of Summer, sweet is life to me still,
But my heart is a lonely hunter that hunts on a lonely hill.

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