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Monday, 7 May 2007


A poem by Egbert Martin ("Leo"), from the Heaventree Press website

Up comes the sun,
And lifts the vapours wide,
As the bridegroom lifts the veil
To kiss his blushing bride.
From wold, and wood,
A whisper of content rolls by,
Through the umbrageous brotherhood,
Beneath the purple sky.
Alone, and sad,
I catch the pleasant light,
And bless the Lord, in looking,
For the refreshing sight.

The British Guianese Egbert Martin (c. 1861-1890), who wrote under the pen-name "Leo", was "the first native West Indian poet of substance... Crippled at an early age, Martin overcame the deprivations of colonial existence to publish, in London, in 1883, his Poetical Works, a substantial volume which Lord Tennyson admired. In 1886, Leo's Local Lyrics appeared, the very first volume of poetry to be published in the colony, His collection of short stories, Scriptology, was published in 1885."

Heaventree Press has just published an edition of Martin's Selected Poems edited by David Dabydeen, which "aims to restore Martin's reputation as a talented Victorian poet and the master of Victorian metrical forms, writing on the universal themes of love, loss and death as well as the local landscape and its peoples." Encouraging to see another piece of the Caribbean "lost literature" restored to print!

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