Philip Bourke Marston
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Philip Bourke Marston (13 August 1850 – 13 February 1887) was an English poet.
He was born in London. His father, John Westland Marston (1819-1890), wrote verse dramas, and was a friend of Dickens, Macready and Charles Kean. Philip's godparents were Philip James Bailey and Dinah Mulock. At his father's house near Chalk Farm he met authors and actors of his father's generation, and subsequently the Rossettis, Swinburne, Arthur O'Shaughnessy and Henry Irving. In his fourth year, his sight began to decay, and he gradually became almost totally blind.
His mother died in 1870. His fiance, Mary Nesbit, died in 1871; his closest friend, Oliver Madox Brown, in 1874; his sister Cicely, his amanuensis, in 1878; in 1879 his remaining sister, Eleanor, who was followed to the grave after a brief interval by her husband, the poet O'Shaughnessy, and her two children.
In 1882, the death of his chief poetic ally and inspirer, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was followed closely by that of another kindred spirit, James Thomson (B.V.), who was carried dying from his blind friend's rooms, where he had sought refuge from his latest miseries early in June of the same year.
It is not surprising that Marston's verse became sorrowful and melancholy. The idylls of flower-life, such as the early and very beautiful The Rose and the Wind, were succeeded by dreams of sleep and the repose of death. These qualities and gradations of feeling are traceable through his three published collections, Songtide (1871), All in All (1873) and Wind Voices (1883). Marston's verse was collected in 1892 by Louise Chandler Moulton, a loyal friend, and herself a poet.
In his later years he wrote short stories for Home Chimes, as well as American magazines, through the agency of Mrs. Chandler Moulton. His popularity in America far exceeded that in his own country.
His health showed signs of collapse from 1883; in January 1887 he lost his voice, and suffered intensely from the failure to make himself understood.
He was commemorated in Gordon Hake's Blind Boy, and in a sonnet by Swinburne, beginning The days of a man are threescore years and ten. There is an intimate sketch of the blind poet by a friend, Coulson Kernahan, in Sorrow and Song (1894).
- Coulson Kernahan, in Sorrow and Song (Philadelphia, 1894)
- William Sharp, in Papers Critical and Reminiscent (New York, 1912)
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- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press