A Cornish Turn: Charles Causley

Cornish Coast at Lands End, c.2012.

I’m very grateful to Polly at Rocks and Bones for drawing my attention to Charles Causley, a poet from Cornwall. Raised from humble beginnings, this sailor, teacher and poet is quite a chap. We began chatting about Welsh poets. Then, turning to Cornwall, I asked about Cornish poets and Polly sent me Charles Causley’s very fine poem Timothy Winters. It is dreadfully sad and you can find excerpts of Timothy Winters at wikipedia.

Here is a fun one called Colonel Fazackerley Butterworth-Toast.

Colonel Fazackerley Butterworth-Toast
Bought an old castle complete with a ghost,
But someone or other forgot to declare
To Colonel Fazak that the spectre was there.

On the very first evening, while waiting to dine,
The Colonel was taking a fine sherry wine,
When the ghost, with a furious flash and a flare,
Shot out of the chimney and shivered, ‘Beware!’

For the remainder of the poem you can read, listen to, or both, at Poem Hunter. As is often the case, writers become acquainted with other writers. As we see from wikipedia

He was corresponded with well-acquainted with such writers as Siegfried SassoonA. L. RowseSusan HillJack Clemo and Ted Hughes (his closest friend) — and a host of other figures from the literary, publishing and wider cultural spheres around the world, as well the southwest region. In addition to Causley’s poetry dealing with issues of faith, folklore, memory, his wartime experience and its later impact, landscape, travel, friends and family, his poems for children were and remain very popular. He used to say that he could have lived comfortably on the fees paid for the reproduction of ‘Timothy Winters’.

Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath would be known to other poetry fans and I have mentioned Plath before.

It is wonderful to be taken on a poetic pilgrimage to new poets from other lands.

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