Hugh Sykes Davies
Biography of Hugh Sykes Davies
Hugh Sykes Davies was an English poet, novelist and communist who was one of a small group of 1930s British surrealists.
Davies was born in Yorkshire to a Methodist minister and his wife. He went to Kingswood School, Bath and studied at Cambridge University, where he co-edited a student magazine called Experiment with William Empson. He spent some time in Paris during the 1930s. He was to stand as a communist candidate in the 1940 general election, but the vote was cancelled because of World War II. He was one of the organisers of the London International Surrealist Exhibition in 1936.
He had a talent for friendship, and as well as Empson, he numbered T. S. Eliot, I. A. Richards, Anthony Blunt, Wittgenstein and Salvador Dalí amongst his circle. At one stage he had Malcolm Lowry declared his ward in an attempt to stop Lowry's drinking.
Davies' poems were mostly published in avant garde magazines and were not collected during his lifetime. His novels include Full Fathom Five (1956) and The Papers of Andrew Melmoth (1960). He also wrote Petron (1935).
He was a University Lecturer and Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge.
Hugh Sykes Davies's Works:
Full Fathom Five (1956)
The Papers of Andrew Melmoth (1960)
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Hugh Sykes Davies Poems
Poem (‘In The Stump of The Old Tree...’)
In the stump of the old tree, where the heart has rotted out, there is a hole the length of a man’s arm, and a dank pool at the bottom of it where the rain gathers, and the old leaves turn into lacy skeletons. But do not put your hand down to see, because
Poem (‘It Doesn’t Look Like A Finger...’...
It doesn’t look like a finger it looks like a feather of broken glass It doesn’t look like something to eat it looks like something eaten It doesn’t look like an empty chair it looks like an old woman searching in a heap of stones
Music in an Empty House
The house was empty and the people of the house gone many months
If the father’s bankrupt, and the sons fail, Blaming it on their own bad start, Say the father should have gone to gaol, Forgetting their grandfather’s part.
Decline of Phæthon
i 40-Phæthon’s leash more suns for caravan with your body’s-span
Decline of Phæthon
leash more suns
with your body’s-span
more zodiac’s bears
than eye unbars
show-crabs and goats
yet must decline