Digby Mackworth Dolben
Biography of Digby Mackworth Dolben
Digby Augustus Stewart Mackworth Dolben (8 February 1848 – 28 June 1867) was an English poet who died young from drowning. He owes his poetic reputation to his cousin, Robert Bridges, poet laureate from 1913 to 1930, who edited a partial edition of his verse, Poems, in 1911.
He was born in Guernsey, and brought up at Finedon Hall in Northamptonshire. His father, William Harcourt Isham Mackworth (1806—1872), a younger son of Sir Digby Mackworth, the 3rd Baronet, took the additional surname Dolben after he married Frances, the heiress of Sir John English Dolben, the 4th Baronet.
He was educated at Eton College, studying under the influential Master William Johnson Cory whose principles of pedagogy and collection of verses Ionica inspired his own poetry. At Eton, his distant cousin Bridges was his senior and took him under his wing.
Dolben caused considerable scandal at school by his exhibitionist behaviour. He marked his romantic attachment to another pupil a year older than him, Martin Le Marchant Gosselin, by writing love poetry. He also defied his strict Protestant upbringing by joining a High Church Puseyite group of pupils. He then claimed allegiance to the Order of St Benedict, affecting a monk's habit. He was considering a conversion to Roman Catholicism.
In 1865 on his seventeenth birthday, he was introduced by Bridges, by then an undergraduate at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, to Gerard Manley Hopkins who was at Balliol. According to the account given by his biographer Norman White, this encounter caused Hopkins a great deal of perturbation.
Digby Mackworth Dolben Poems
Beautiful, Oh Beautiful--
Beautiful, oh beautiful- In all the mountain passes The plenteous dowers of April showers, Which every spring amasses,
Beyond the calumny and wrong, Beyond the clamour and the throng, Beyond the praise and triumph-song He passed.
The Pilgrim and The Knight
Here in the flats that encompass the hills called Beautiful, lying, O Beloved, behold a Pilgrim who fain would be sleeping,
On the tender myrtle-branches, In the meadow lotus-grassèd, While the wearied sunlight softly To the Happy Islands passèd,-
My Love, and once again my Love, And then no more until the end, Until the waters cease to move, Until we rest within the Ark,
I asked for Peace- My sins arose, And bound me close, I could not find release.
A Song of Eighteen
Strain them, O winds, the sails of the years, Outspread on the mystic sea; Faster and faster, for laughter or tears, O bear my story to me!
From falsehood and error, From darkness and terror, From all that is evil, From the power of the devil,
When all my words were said, When all my songs were sung, I thought to pass among The unforgotten dead,
I, living, drew thee from the vale Parnassus' height to climb with me. I, dying, bid thee turn, and scale
On River Banks My Love Was Born
Sis licet felix ubicunque mavis Et memor nostri . . . vivas On river banks my love was born,
Christ, For Whose Only Love I Keep
Christ, for whose only Love I keep me clean Among the palaces of Babylon,
Where in dawnward Sicily Gentle rivers wed the sea, Bitter life was given me.
Lean Over Me
O, a moon face In a shadowy place. Lean over me-ah so,-let fall
A Sea Song
In the days before the high tide
Swept away the towers of sand
Built with so much care and labour
By the children of the land,
Pale, upon the pallid beaches,
Thirsting, on the thirsty sands,
Ever cried I to the Distance,