Today’s poem needs no lengthy introduction, it is perhaps the classic of poetry of the macabre. Ladies and gentlemen, The Raven!
Today’s poem, or series of poems, comes from a book I picked up from a junk shop a few months back; a collection of poems by John Sibley, called The Death of William Rufus. This was published in 1946 by the notorious small press, The Fortune Press.
The Fortune Press was founded in 1924 by Reginald Caton. It seems that Caton had no qualms about publishing copyrighted works through his own press, which led to Francis Meynell of Nonesuch Press calling Caton a “Thief and a pirate”.
Caton courted further controversy by using The Fortune Press to publish homoerotic fiction, which led to him being prosecuted on obscenity charges in 1934. After this he concentrated more on publishing poetry and went on to publish Dylan Thomas and Philip Larkin (in 1966 Larkin is said to have described Caton as “…a bum-hunting relic of the 1920s”).
As we can see from this series of poems, which contain some rather choice and fruity passages, Caton may have been continuing to publish works on his favoured theme by masking them in metaphors.
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