Richard Church (poet)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Richard Church (William Shackleton)

Richard Thomas Church (26 March 1893 – 4 March 1972) was an English writer, known as poet and critic; he also wrote novels and verse plays, and three well-received volumes of autobiography.

Life[edit]

He was born in London, and went to school in Dulwich. He worked as a civil servant, leaving in 1933 to write full-time; he became a journalist and reviewer. His first poetry appeared in Robert Blatchford's Clarion, and he contributed verse to periodicals for the rest of his life.

His first post as a literary editor was with the New Leader, organ of the Independent Labour Party. He was director of the Oxford Festival of Spoken Poetry during the 1930s. His much-anthologised World War I poem 'Mud' first appeared in Life and Letters, January 1935.

The first volume of Church's autobiography, Over the Bridge (1955), was awarded the Sunday Times Prize for Literature; the novelist Howard Spring described it as "the loveliest autobiography written in our time," pointing out that the writer had "found life full of enchantment, and how not the least of its enchantments was its challenge." The second volume, The Golden Sovereign, appeared in 1957. That year Church was named a Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

Mystical Experience[edit]

While young, Church had a mystical experience at a convalescent home, which he recounted in his autobiography, 'Over the Bridge', and which was also recounted by the British occultist writer Colin Wilson. Looking out of some French windows, Church saw a gardener chopping down a dead tree. What struck Church after a while was that the sight of the axe hitting the tree and the sound of the axe hitting the tree were not synchronised. The sound was delayed. At first he did not believe his own powers of perception, but after concentrating his vision and hearing, he came to the conclusion that he was experiencing an error in the laws of physics. He came to the conclusion - which would remain with him for the rest of his life - that "time and space are not absolute. Their power was not law." He experienced an incredible freedom in this epiphany. "(...) I was free. Since time and space were deceivers, openly contradicting each other, and at best offering a compromise in place of law" [1] After this epiphany another soon followed. From where he stood he sensed that "(...) my limbs and trunk were lighter than they seemed, and that I had only to reduce them by an act of will, perhaps by a mere change of physical mechanics, to command them off the ground, out of the tyranny of gravitation". He then left the ground and glided 'about the room' some twelve or eighteen inches above the floor. He returned to the ground only to take off once more.[2]

Works[edit]

Poems[edit]

  • The Flood of Life (1917)
  • Hurricane (1919)
  • Philip (1923)
  • The Portrait of the Abbot (1926)
  • The Dream (1927)
  • Theme with Variations (1928)
  • Mood without Measure (1928)
  • Mary Shelley (1928)
  • The Glance Backward (1930)
  • News from the Mountain (1932)
  • Apple of Concord (1935)
  • Twelve Noon (1936)
  • The Solitary Man (1941)
  • Twentieth-Century Psalter (1943)
  • The Lamp (1946)
  • Collected Poems (1948)
  • Selected Lyrical Poems (1951)
  • The Inheritors (1957)
  • North of Rome (1960)
  • The Burning Bush (1967)

Novels[edit]

  • Oliver’s Daughter (1930)
  • High Summer (1931)
  • The Prodigal Father (1933)
  • The Porch (1937)
  • The Stronghold (1939)
  • The Sampler (1942)
  • The Cave (1951) AKA Five Boys in a Cave.
  • Dog Toby. A Frontier Tale (1953)
  • The dangerous years (1956)
  • The Nightingale (1958)
  • The Crab-Apple Tree (1959)
  • Prince Albert (1963)
  • The Room Within (1965)
  • The White Doe (1968)
  • Little Miss Moffatt: a confession (1969)
  • The French lieutenant: a ghost story (1971)

Autobiography[edit]

  • Over the Bridge (1955)
  • The Golden Sovereign (1957)
  • The Voyage Home (1964)

Other Books[edit]

  • Calling for a Spade (1939) Essays on country themes.
  • Plato's Mistake (1941)
  • Eight for immortality' (1941) Essays on contemporary writers.
  • A squirrel called Rufus (1941) For children.
  • Green Tide (1945) Essays, mainly on country themes.
  • British authors : a twentieth-century gallery with 53 portraits (1948)
  • A window on a hill [1951]. Essays, mainly on country themes
  • Books and Writers (Robert Lynd) Foreword by Richard Church (1952)
  • The prodigal: a play in verse (1953)
  • Down River (1957) For children.
  • A country window; a round of essays (1958)
  • Small moments. Decorated with wood-engravings by Joan Hassall (1957) Essays.
  • The bells of Rye. Front. by Michael Hubbard (1960) For children.
  • Calm October, essays (1961)
  • The growth of the English novel (1961)
  • A stroll before dark : essays (1965)
  • The royal parks of London. With drawings by Victor Cooley (1965)
  • Portrait of Canterbury (1968)
  • Speaking aloud (1968)
  • The wonder of words (1970)
  • A harvest of mushrooms: and other sporadic essays (1970)

Sources[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "But for now I was free. Since time and space were deceivers, openly contradicting each other (…) I looked down at my wrists and saw the transparent flesh, the bird-bones, the channels of blue beneath the skin. (…) It could not possibly outweigh the solid earth under my feet, where I and the rest of duped mankind walked with such docility. (…) I sensed, with a benignancy deeper and more assured than reason, that my limbs and trunk were lighter than they seemed, and that I had only to reduce them by an act of will, perhaps by a mere change of physical mechanics, to command them off the ground, out of the tyranny of gravitation. - Wilson, Colin 'Supernatural Your guide through the unexplained, the unearthly and the unknown' ISBN 978-1-907486-55-5
  2. ^ It was no surprise to me that I left the ground, and glided about the room (which was empty) some twelve or eighteen inches above the parquet floor. At first I was afraid of collapsing, of tumbling and hurting myself. But I had only to draw in a deep breath, and to command the air through the heavy portions of my anatomy, watching in flow and dilute the solid bone and flesh through the helpful chemistry of the blood, this new, released and knowledgable blood, and I soared higher, half-way to the ceiling." Wilson, Colin 'Supernatural Your guide through the unexplained, the unearthly and the unknown' ISBN 978-1-907486-55-5