David Gascoyne

(10 October 1916 - 25 November 2001 / London / England)

Biography of David Gascoyne

David Gascoyne poet

David Gascoyne was born in 1916 in Harrow, Middlesex, and educated at Salisbury Cathedral School and the Regent Street Polytechnic, London. His first collection of poetry, 'Roman Balcony and Other Poems' was published when he was sixteen, and in 1933 Cobden-Sanderson brought out his novel 'Opening Day'. Both books are remarkable achievements for an adolescent, and they were followed by the equally striking poetry collections 'Man's Life Is This Meat' (1936) and 'Hoelderlin's Madness' (1938), which established his reputation as one of the most original voices of the 1930s.

Gascoyne was among the earliest champions of Surrealism: in 1935 his A Short Survey of Surrealism was published, and in the next year he was one of the organisers of the London International Surrealist Exhibition. From this period, and during his time living in France in 1937-39, date his friendships with Dali, Max Ernst, Andre Breton, Paul Eluard and Pierre Jean Jouve. As well as becoming internationally celebrated as a poet - especially after publication of his 'Poems 1937-1942', with its Graham Sutherland images - Gascoyne became highly regarded as a translator, notably of Hoelderlin and of the leading French Surrealists.

After the war Gascoyne again lived in France (1947-48 and 1953-64), partly in Paris and partly in Provence. He consolidated his reputation with 'A Vagrant and Other Poems' (1950), and with 'Night Thoughts' (1956), commissioned by Douglas Cleverdon for BBC Radio. His 'Collected Poems', published by Oxford University Press in 1965, were reprinted six times. In 1994 Enitharmon published a substantial volume of Selected Poems.

David Gascoyne lived with his wife, Judy, at Northwood on the Isle of Wight. In 1996 he was made a Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture for his lifelong services to French Literature.

David Gascoyne's Works:

1932 - Roman Balcony (Benford A1)
1933 - Opening Day (Benford A2)
1935 - A Short Survey of Surrealism (Benford A3)
1936 - Man's Life is this Meat (Benford A4)
1938 - Hoelderlin's Madness (Benford A5)
1943 - Poems 1937-1942 (Benford A6)
1950 - A Vagrant and Other Poems (Benford A7)
1952 - Thomas Carlyle (Benford A8)
1956 - Requiem (Benford A9)
1956 - Night Thoughts (Benford A10)
1965 - Collected Poems (Benford A11)
1970 - Sun at Midnight (Benford A12)
1976 - Three Poems (Benford A13)
1978 - Paris Journal 1937-1939 (Benford A14)
1980 - Journal 1936-1937 (Benford A15)
1980 - Early Poems (Benford A16)
1984 - Journal de Paris et d'Ailleurs 1936-1942 (Benford A17)
1984 - Five Early Uncollected Poems (Benford A18)
1984 - Recontres avec Benjamin Fondane (Benford A19)

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The Cage

In the waking night
The forests have stopped growing
The shells are listening
The shadows in the pools turn grey
The pearls dissolve in the shadow
And I return to you

Your face is marked upon the clockface,
My hands are beneath your hair

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