poems, frank prewett
art, mary herbert
Hearing the whine and crash
We hastened out
And found a few poor men
I put my hand in the breast
Of the first met.
His heart thumped, stopped, and I drew
My hand out wet.
Another, he seemed a boy,
Rolled in the mud
Screaming, "my legs, my legs,"
And he poured out his blood.
We bandaged the rest
And went in,
And started again at our cards
Where we had been.
the kelso road
Morning and evening are mine,
And the bright noon-day;
But night to no man doth belong
When the sad ghosts play.
From Kelso town I took the road
By the full-flood Tweed;
The black clouds swept across the moon
With devouring greed.
No peace to tread the night;
I felt above my head
Blowing the cloud’s edge, faces wry
In pale fury spread.
Twelve surly elves were digging graves
Beside black Eden brook;
Twelve dug and stared at me,
But one read in a book.
In Birgham, trees and hedges rocked,
The moon was drowned in black;
At Hirsel woods, I shrieked to find
A fiend astride my back.
His legs he closed about my breast,
His hands upon my head,
Till Coldstream lights beamed in trees
And he wailed and fled.
Morning and evening are mine,
And the bright noon-heat,
But at night the sad thin ghosts
For their revels meet.
the cloud snake
As I came at dusk to the hump of the wold
I must cross in the sun’s afterglow,
A black snake of cloud stretched itself on the ridge
And I was afraid to brave it for the valley below.
Beyond lay the lighted lowland where I would be,
And lighted behind me was the sister vale:
Dark only the ridge under the snake of cloud
And cold the subtle east wind at its tail.
My shelter lies in the moonlight beyond,
I am not daunted by a snake of black.
So I run onward, so runs the cloud before,
Trailing the frosted east wind in her track.
The blue stars dance before me and behind,
Beneath them I know the east wind is not cold.
Do not freeze and fear me on this height,
I seek only to pass from vale to vale of the wold.
FRANK PREWETT (1893–1962) was born and raised in Ontario. After graduating from the University of Toronto, during WWI he served in the Canadian Army and in the British Army's Royal Field Artillery. After being buried alive fighting in France, Prewett underwent treatment at Lennel Auxiliary Hospital where he met Siegfried Sassoon who introduced him to the literary establishment and Lady Ottoline Morrell's Garsington set. Prewett returned to fight at the front during WWI and served again during WWII. His poetry was included in numerous collections during his life, typeset by Virginia Woolf at Hogarth Press, and edited by Robert Graves. Although he returned to Canada briefly, Prewett made the UK his home, where he wrote novels, entered academia, broadcast for the BBC, and had a family.
MARY HERBERT lives and works in London. She gained her BA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College (2010) and completed her Postgraduate studies at the Royal Drawing School (2018). Selected recent exhibitions include Bloodroot, Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh Scotland (duo show with James Owens) (2021); To See Through It, Lychee One, London UK (Solo) (2021), The Lonely Ones, Curated by Katelyn Eichwald, Fortnight Institute, New York USA (online) (2021); Becoming Habits Chapter II, Studi0, St Moritz, Switzerland (2021); Unmasked, Daniel Raphael Gallery, London UK (online) (2020); Dance First Think Later, General Practice, Lincoln UK (2020); Somewhere Else for a Little While, Eve Leibe Gallery, London UK (online) (2020); Bloomberg New Contemporaries, Leeds Art Gallery & South London Gallery, UK (2019). WEBSITE. INSTAGRAM.
JOY PORTER's biographical study of Prewett is the first substantial publication of its kind on the poet. A detailed interview is published in this issue, and readers can avail of a 35% discount using the code PREW21 on Bloomsbury online.
The above original artworks by MARY HERBERT are available for purchase, at Signal House Shop.
(Image credits: All works are soft pastel on paper, 2021, by Mary Herbert. From top to bottom, Card Game (after Frank Prewett), The Snake Cloud (after Frank Prewett), The Kelso Road (after Frank Prewett); by kind permission of the artist.)