[William Montgomerie, Scottish poet.] Typed Letter Signed ('Bill Montgomerie') to Lawrence Wilson, on Spain, Gerald Brenan, Shakespeare, with signed typescripts of four poems, and Autograph Note Signed by his wife Norah Montgomerie.

Author: 
William Montgomerie (1904-1994), Scottish poet, folklorist with his wife Norah Montgomerie (1909-1998) [Lawrence Wilson, brother of poet R. N. D. Wilson, poet and vicar]
Publication details: 
11 Castle Terrace, Broughty Ferry, Dundee, Angus; 8 July 1972.
£950.00
SKU: 21828

The typed letter (2pp) and the four typescript poems (5pp) total 7pp, foolscap 8vo. In good condition, lightly aged. In good condition, lightly aged. Folded twice. LETTER: TLS to 'Dear Lawrence'. (The recipient Lawrence Wilson is less well-known as a poet than his brother Robert (or Robin) Noble Denison Wilson (1899-1953), known as R. N. D. Wilson.) 2pp, 8vo. A long letter, with seventy-three lines of typewritten text by William Montgomerie, with a long Autograph Note Signed by his wife 'Norah' at the foot and up one margin of the last leaf. WM begins the letter by expaining that he and NM have been in Spain for the previous eight months: 'We left Spain just before the £ crisis and took our time coming home – a week south to north Spain, a short stay with our daughter near Oxford, another short stay in Edinburgh with our son, then home.' WM then turns to Wilson's 'book' ('Estuary', published by the Ramsay Head Press, Edinburgh, 1971), which he considers 'very nicely printed'. On reading 'the finest poem on page 26', WM 'suddenly realised that I must have missed some news about you while abroad. This makes my seeming neglect doubly so. If I have read the poem aright, Norah and I are very upset and grieved that we could not write to you much sooner.' He expresses condolences, and wishes 'we could in some way help you to support your sorrow'. The Montgomeries are 'looking for a house in Edinburgh just now', and 'feel almost strangers in this district, and for many years stayed in the place only because my work was here. Now that no longer ties us, though we still appreciate the view of the estuary from the front window.' He explains the health reason that led to the trip to Spain, which offered 'sun and peace to write'. The previous winter the couple 'had a south-facing flat in a little town called Fuengirola, where the temperature very seldom went below 60° F.', and this gave them 'a chance to explore, and we found a little town Estepona, rather like Broughty, with a working fishing harbour and the majority of the inhabitants Spaniards'. He describes the flat and the neighbourhood. 'In Fuengirola we met a fascinating woman [Shay Oag] – a Scot who had written one of the few best books on bullfighting, was a Flamenco enthusiast and spoke such perfect dialect Spanish (Andaluz) that she discussed the finer points of Flamenco with the local gipsies. She also knew, much more than most, of the background political situation.' WM continues: 'This winter we found a second friend, Gerald Brenan, one of the Bloomsbury Group who is so-far less well-known than the others'. He discusses Brenan's works, and notes that it 'seemed rather interesting to be added' to the members of the group who stayed with Brenan in Spain. 'At our second lunch-date with Gerald, in his lovely house in the sierras behind Malaga, he suddenly said, “I'm going off to Greece and Turkey for a couple of months. Would you like to look after my cat?” When we realised that he meant the house went with the cat, we suffered for some time after from delayed shock.' He describes the 'wonderful experience' of the two-months stay, 'which extended into early June, in this house in an olive grove, with thousands of books in many languages', including the comment: 'Sometimes we could do nothing more than just look at the landscape under a sun that shone for months on end.' The couple feel that they 'are digging deeper into the Spanish background', having been invited to look after the cat the next year, and also 'offered a flat in the house of a lady called Marie del Carmen Fernandez de Sepulveda whose father was a judge in Malaga'. WM comments: 'Actually I was closest to the real Spain when I used a mattock on the garden and weeded, sparing the blue pimpernel. I was right down to the grass-roots as the Americans say.' The result has been that WM has 'been able to write a book of five long poems about Glasgow, and a number of poems about Spain'. He has also 'begun to put together two published essay about Shakespeare, & begun to put together my notes for the rest of little book on a Shakespeare theme I have returned to again and again for the last quarter century and more'. He believes he has 'made four important discoveries which should deeply influence Shakespeare criticism and production on the stage'. He is enclosing 'a selection of the small poems' he wrote 'in Gerald's house which is called Santa Filmomena, why I don't know'. In her ANS Norah Montgomerie expresses the couples sadness 'about Audrey'. Wilson's 'book of poems is a wonderful tribute […] We were both very, very moved by “I would forgo.” I loved the last three poems. Thank you very much for “Estuary.” She ends in the hope that they will 'meet again this Summer – we shall phone you sometime when we're in Edinburgh to see if you have time to see us'. Each of the four poems enclosed with the letter is signed 'W. M.' They have pencil glossing of Spanish terms in the margins, presumably by Wilson. No indication has been discovered that the poems were ever published. POEM ONE: 'Santa Filomena'. Written at 'Alhaurin el Grande | Malaga'. 1p, 8vo. First line: 'In the cool house bluebottles buzz on the stair window'. POEM TWO: 'Ants'. 1p, 8vo. Begins: 'From tall oleanders in an olive tree's shade | over the hot white desert to pink roses from Shrewsbury | runs a long carretera with no verges no lanes'. POEM THREE: 'Riña de Gallos'. Written at 'Carvajal'. 2pp, 8vo. Begins: 'Spain has closed her two hands | thumb to thumb fingers to fingers | round this house on the hill | whose white walls crow | Christ denied | a year's dawns | gloves thrown down'. POEM FOUR: 'Ripeness is All'. 1p, 8vo. Begins: 'The boy leaves his lemonade | among the wineglasses | in the shade under the balcony | Hola! He shouts from the top of an olive tree | crosses the dry cañada | to our neighbour's almonds | returning | drops his bag of green nuts | among the wineglasses'.