Ewart Milne (1903-87)

CriticismCommentaryQuotations


Life
[Charles Ewart Milne]; b. 25 May, Dublin, ed. in Ashford, and at Christ Church Cathedral Grammar School; ran away to sea 1920-35; m. Kathleen Bradner in London on his return; Spanish Medical Aid, 1936-38; Spanish Civil War, following his friend Charles Donnelly there to find he had already died; drove a truck with supplies; worked in London for Edward Sheehy’s Ireland Today, and for Spanish Medical Aid; followed Charles Donnelly to Madrid, 1937; farm worker in Suffolk, England, 1946-62;
 
divorced following death of first-born child; returned to Dublin in the late forties; pub. poems in Comment; m. Thelma Dobson, 1948, widowed 1964; 14 poetry collections in a Yeatsian vein incl. Listen Mangan (1941); Boding Day (1947); Elegy for a Lost Submarine (1951); Galion (1953), mock-epic; Life Arboreal: Poems (1953), from Peter Russell’s Pound Press; Once More to Tourney (1958); A Garland for the Green (1962), nationalist in tone;
 
issued Time Stopped: A Poem Sequence with Prose Intermissions (1967); Drift of Pinions (1976), Cantata Under Orion (1977) [var. 1976], in which the poet learns of his wife’s adultery; The Folded Leaf (1983); issued Drums Without End (1985), short stories chiefly about the Spanish Civil War; appears in English and American anthologies [but omitted from FDA]; member Society of Authors and British Interplanetary Society; d. Bedford, 14 Jan.; two sons living. DIW DIL/2 DIB OCIL

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Works
Poetry
  • Forty North Forty West (Dublin: Gayfield 1938);
  • Letter from Ireland: Verses (Dublin: Gayfield Press 1940), ix, 79pp.;
  • Listen Mangan: Poems (Dublin: Sign of Three Candles 1941), 102pp.; Jubilo: Poems (London: F. Muller Ltd. 1944), vi, 47, [1]pp.;
  • Boding Day (London: F. Muller Ltd. 1947), 22p.;
  • Elegy for a Lost Submarine (Burnham-on-Couch: Plow Poems 1951), [8]pp.;
  • Diamond Cut Diamond: Selected Poems (London: Bodley Head 1953), 64pp.;
  • Galion: A Poem (Dublin: Dolmen 1953);
  • Life Arboreal: Poems (Tunbridge Wells: Pound Press 1953), 94, [2]pp.;
  • Once More to Tourney: A Book of Ballads and Light Verse, Serious, Gay and Grisly, intro. by J. M. Cohen (London: Linden Press [1958]), 96pp.;
  • A Garland for the Green: Poems (London: Hutchinson 1962), 95pp.;
  • Time Stopped: A Poem Sequence with Prose Intermissions (London: Plow Poems 1967), 165pp.;
  • Cantata Under Orion (Isle of Skye: Aquila Poetry 1976), 54pp.;
  • Drift of Pinions (Isle of Skye: Aquila & Wayzgoose Press 1976), [16]pp.;
  • Deus Est Qui Regit Omnia [St. Bueno’s Hand Printed Ltd. Edns. No. 9] (Mornington: J. F. & B. Deane 1980), [16]pp.;
  • Spring Offering (Isle of Skye: Aquila 1981);
  • The Folded Leaf: Poems 1970-1980 (Isle of Skye: Aquila Poetry 1983).
 
Short Fiction
  • Drums Without End (Portree [Isle of Skye]: Aquila 1985), 101pp.

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Criticism
Hugh D. Ford, A Poet's War: British Poets in the Spanish Civil War (Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia 1965); J.C.R. Green, ed., Ewart Milne: For His 80th Birthday: A Festchrift [Prospice 14] (Isle of Skye: Aquila Press 1983), 82pp. [also Drogheda]; Frank Kernowski, The Outsiders (Fort Worth: Texas Christian UP 1975).

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Commentary
John Montague, ‘The Impact of International Modern Poetry on Irish Writing’, in Irish Poets in English: The Thomas Davis Lectures on Anglo-Irish Poetry, ed. Sean Lucy (Cork: Mercier Press 1972): ‘The long career of Ewart Milne, now that he has turned to anti-Communism, seems only to illustrate the savage little epigram of Robert Frost: “I never dared to be radical when young / For fear it would make me conservative when old.” / But he was one of the few Irish poets to assume a revolutionary Marxist position, and to strive for a kind of popular poetry, derived perhaps from the example of Lorca. He has travelled widely and his vision of “The Martyred Earth” is a moving piece of rhetoric [quotes as infra]. The apocalyptic vision is carried even further in “A Place of Testament”: “When mountains were oceans I sat down to warn / For I couldn’t believe all our tribe was gone. ...” / And his rebuke of his contemporaries in “Deirdre and the Poets” could be a light-hearted version of my present theme [quotes as infra].’ (p.155; for full text see RICORSO Library, “Critical Classics”, infra.)

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Quotations
“The Martyred Earth”
Rivers empty chemical wastes into the seas,
On their ocean feeding grounds the fish cannot feed,
The herrings die and the herring fleet is disbanded …

“Deirdre and the Poets”
Though they leap for the lights of the great continents
And cry from afar like the lapwing guarding his nest,
Though they talk to the wall in their towns and villages
And strive to clothe my bones in the ivy of the arch;
Yet their voices are not heard among the hall of the
                                                                     nations
It’s time I got me a new set of poets;
There’s never one of all the lot I’d pardon,
Said the sore-tried woman of the roads.
 
—Quoted in John Montague, ‘The Impact of International Modern Poetry on Irish Writing’ (1972), as supra.

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References
Donagh MacDonagh, ed. and intro., Poems from Ireland, with a preface by R. M. Smylie (Dublin The Irish Times 1944), describes him as a ‘teacher and sailor [who] worked with Medical Aid during the Spanish Civil War [and] has published three books of verse [...] Is at present in England.’

John Montague, ed. Faber Book of Irish Verse (London: Faber 1974), “Vanessa Vanessa,” and “The Martyred Earth” [‘The land, the land is tired, / A thin honey melts for all the fanning of the bees, / And the islands are finished.’]

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Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1979), cites Milne's own biographical summary [6 lines] and adds bio-details: rift with family; m. ‘Irish girl’ [acc. Kersnowski]; antipathy to Gaelic League [Gaelicism] prevents him supporting de Valera; Spanish Medical Aid; followed Donnelly to Madrid to find Donnelly had by then been killed; Sheehy’s Ireland Today, 1941; ‘moving again to Dublin’; worked on a farm in wartime; mock epic Galion (1953), published by Dolmen; m. Thelma Dobson, 1948 (d.1964); Time Stopped (1967), a self-examination which expresses his love and accepts his Anglo-Irish background; relationship to Ireland changed with the circumstances of his life. Hogan reprints Milne’s wry autobiographical notice.

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Nancy Cunard, ed., Poèmes à la France 1934-1944 (Paris: Pierre Seghers 1947), prints poem with others by Lord Dunsany, Hugh MacDiarmid, Robert Greacen.

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COPAC lists Boding day: poems (1947); Cantata under Orion (1976); Deus est qui regit omnia: a poem (1980); Diamond cut diamond: selected poems (1950); Drift of pinions (1976); Drums without end: short stories mainly about the Spanish Civil War (1986); Elegy for a lost submarine (1951); The folded leaf: poems (1970-(1980 (1983); Forty north, fifty west (1938); Galion: a poem with a prologue and an epilogue (1953); A garland for the green (1962); Jubilo: poems (1944); Letter from Ireland (1940); Life arboreal (1953); Listen Mangan: poems (1941); Once more to tourney: a book of ballads and light verse, serious, gay, and grisly (1958); Ewart Milne: for his 80th birthday: a Festschrift / edited by J.C.R. Green. (1983).

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