John Aubrey, Some Verses edited from the MS


£1.00, 1 page,
Gargoyle Editions

Reviewed by Melissa Flores-Bórquez


The Gargoyle list, a loose-leaf series from West House Books, contains pamphlets, postcards, one-poem pages folded, and miniature exhumations. Nice quality, creamy paper is used, a little like machined skin. The "some verses" (three) of John Aubrey is one of the exhumations.

Presumably this is the John Aubrey (1626 - 1697), pictured, antiquary and meticulous author of Brief Lives chiefly of Contemporaries, and presumably these "verses" consist of quotes taken from one of his manuscripts (probably the Brief Lives) and arranged by the anonymous creator of this paper (anonymous in the sense that neither Alan Halsey nor Geraldine Monk of West House are named). The quotes appear to be half-sentences which are then honeyed together. I recognised one, "spirits/comeing up the stairs like bees", as from the life of mathematician Thomas Allen. A quick perusal of the Aubrey turned up "he lyes without inscription" as probably from the life of William Cartwright and "things begin to be antiquated" from Thomas Hobbes, beginning the third verse:

things begin to be antiquated
a large storie very well painted
all these remembrances was
heretofore a paradise
such a sample of mortality
words furnish him with copie
It is very pleasant to be pointed back to Aubrey, stylist of the dining tables and of the eye, and I love the attribution of these verses to he alone, effacing the editor but acknowledging the work: "edited from the MS". This third verse ends with "furnish him with copie" - a comment on a life's reading, which Aubrey is often keen to establish when essaying a Thinker, but now, as the last sentence in a verse, it seems that the writing of a life furnishes mortality's sample with words, just as earlier we read of verses "writt on the curtaine", which we can see twitch strangely. In this third verse, from "things begin to be antiquated" to "words furnish" is not far and yet it's the distance from death to a paradise of copie.

But if so, then it's "heretofore" a paradise, which complicates matters, as death (the present?) does often tend to do. Perhaps one ought to think of these edited verses as a very small mirror-miscellany by John Aubrey.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

  • Twitter
  • Intercapillary Places (Events Series)
  • Publication Series
  • Newsreader Feed