Although slightly later than the Victorian period I usually write about, I wanted to post a little blog about an obscure poet called Fabian S. Woodley, who wrote the unusual and extremely scarce anthology A Crown of Friendship. It’s unusual in the sense that all his poems have a distinctively ‘Uranian’ tone. Woodley clearly had a passion for young men, and declared that ‘Boyhood was the only ideal worth following’. This is apparent in all his extant poems.
After the First World War, Woodley wrote for a local newspaper, the Somerset Country Gazette, before settling on a teaching career (I’m not sure this was entirely appropriate given his penchant for youth!). He worked as an English teacher at several well-known schools, including Wellington College, and it was during this period that he published his collection A Crown of Friendship. I have chosen to share his poem ‘The Beautiful’, as it’s the best piece in the collection, IMO.
The vision of a boy divinely fair;
His eyes were moon-kissed seas, serene and deep,
Elysian blossoms crowned his golden hair;
Light flowed around him, gently fell his voice
Like a soft-singing shower of silver dew,
Long time he gazed, then smiling, spoke ” Rejoice!
Seek only Me, for I alone am true!”
Straightway he fled upborne within a maze
Of mighty wings and music wonderful,
Whilst all the air grew dizzy with the praise
Of voices crying loud, ” The Beautiful.”
Heavenward he vanished — but his radiant face
Still haunts me — a pure spiritual joy,
And well I know he makes his dwelling-place
In the clear honest eyes of any boy.