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Saturday, 20 February 2016

Saturday Rave: the other Henry James.

Everyone must surely know that it will be the hundredth anniversary of Henry James' death on the 28th February, but who will remember the other Henry James, who was born on this day in 1745?

Well, we will.

This Henry James was Henry James Pye. He was made Poet Laureate (people said, unkindly, because of his support for William Pitt the Younger in the House of Commons) but this only led to his being even more widely scorned than before for his complete lack of talent as a poet.

Even the normally even-handed Wikipedia says: 'although he had no command of language and was destitute of poetic feeling....he published many volumes of verse'.

But, I don't's the opening of his poem The Triumph of Fashion, and apart from a slight limpness towards the end I think it's good fun.

In that bless'd season, when descending snows,
In robes of virgin white, the fields inclose;
When Beaux and Belles, their rural seats forego,
For the gay seats of Almack's and Soho:
When to his consort's wish the sportsman yields,
And quits, for Grosvenor-Sqaure, the frostbound fields;
What time stout Labour waking rears his head,
And jaded Luxury just thinks of bed;
Tir'd with the toilsome pleasures of the day,
Stretch'd on my couch with weary limbs I lay:
Then, as disorder'd slumbers close'd my eyes,
This strange fantastic vision seemed to rise.

The strange fantastic vision you can read about HERE, but it's a battle between Beauty and Fashion. It's both funny and hits a good few targets that are still standing (although admittedly some, like the habit of powdering our hair, no longer need a satirist).

In this month of remembering the famous Henry James let's also remember the other one, Henry James Pye, who all his life attracted scorn, and really didn't deserve all of it.

Bless him.

Word To Use Today: pye. A pye is a book for finding out the Church Service for any particular day. It comes from the Latin pica, which means almanac.  Pye as in pye-dog (a semi-wild Indian stray dog) comes from the Hindi pāhī, outsider.

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