A Crown of Friendship (1921)

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 Beautiful

Long years ago there came to me in sleep
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.

Author: Descartes Baker

Graduate in English with Creative Writing. Loves Victorian literature, poetry, watching the clouds go by, travelling, numismatics, and reading long forgotten and obscure novels.

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