Biography of Ralph Hodgson
Order of the Rising Sun (Japanese 旭日章),was an English poet, very popular in his lifetime on the strength of a small number of anthology pieces, such as The Bull. He was one of the more 'pastoral' of the Georgian poets. In 1954, he was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.
He seems to have covered his tracks in relation to much of his life; he was averse to publicity. This has led to claims that he was reticent. Far from that being the case, his friend Walter De La Mare found him an almost exhausting talker; but he made a point of personal privacy. He kept up a copious correspondence with other poets and literary figures, including those he met in his time in Japan such as Takeshi Saito.
Ralph Hodgson was a reclusive figure, who disliked publicity about either his work or his private life. As a result, details on his early life are few and far between. From 1890 until 1912, he worked as an artist for various newspapers and magazines. From 1913, his private press, "At the Sign of the Flying Fame," played host to several of his poems as chapbooks and broadsides. These included "The Song of Honour , " and "The Bull, " for which he received the Polignac Prize in 1914. In 1924, he moved to Japan and took a post as English lecturer at Sendai's University.
His reputation as a poet rests upon a small number of publications. "The Bull, " " Eve ," " The Bells of Heaven ," and " The Song of Honour ," are regularly included in poetry anthologies.
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Ralph Hodgson Poems
See an old unhappy bull, Sick in soul and body both, Slouching in the undergrowth Of the forest beautiful, Banished from the herd he led,
The Gypsy Girl
'Come, try your skill, kind gentlemen, A penny for three tries!' Some threw and lost, some threw and won A ten-a-penny prize.
The Bells of Heaven
'Twould ring the bells of Heaven The wildest peal for years, If Parson lost his senses And people came to theirs,
A Song of Honour
I climbed a hill as light fell short, And rooks came home in scramble sort, And filled the trees and flapped and fought
"How fared you when you mortal were? What did you see on my peopled star?" "Oh well enough," I answered her, "It went for me where mortals are!
Eve, with her basket, was Deep in the bells and grass, Wading in bells and grass Up to her knees,
A Wood Song
Now one and all, you Roses, Wake up, you lie too long! This very morning closes The Nightingale his song;
I saw with open eyes Singing birds sweet Sold in the shops For people to eat,
The world's gone forward to its latest fair And dropt an old man done with by the way, To sit alone among the bats and stare
Not baser than his own homekeeping kind Whose journeyman he is - Blind sons and breastless daughters of the blind
The Late last Rook
The old gilt vane and spire receive The last beam eastward striking; The first shy bat to peep at eve Has found her to his liking.
He came and took me by the hand Up to a red rose tree, He kept His meaning to Himself
The book was dull, its pictures As leaden as its lore, But one glad, happy picture Made up for all and more:
The House Across the Way
The leaves looked in at the window Of the house across the way, At a man that had sinned like you and me And all poor human clay.
"How fared you when you mortal were?
What did you see on my peopled star?"
"Oh well enough," I answered her,
"It went for me where mortals are!
"I saw blue flowers and the merlin's flight
And the rime on the wintry tree,
Blue doves I saw and summer light
On the wings of the cinnamon bee."