Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Devonshire scenery in verse and prose

I've apologised before to Wayland Wordsmith for poaching his blog topics, but very often our blogs interweave out of a kind of 'convergence of evolution' from having similar interests. His recent post Musopolus featured a poem about the view near Budleigh Salterton by a pseudonymous and "a truly awful Victorian poet who was collected by William Everitt in his anthology of Devon verses".

By coincidence I'd already bookmarked this anthology, which I found while Googling for material on Budleigh after my walk on Saturday (see Sherbrook now) because it's on the Internet Archive: Devonshire scenery: its inspiration in the prose and song of various authors (Everitt, William; pub. London, Gibbings; 1899; ID devonshirescener00everuoft).

I admit I'm not terribly poetry-literate, but it seems a lot of this poetry is mock-classical doggerel at the level of "See! Exon doth arise". The chief interest for me is in spotting familiar places, because Everitt compiled the anthology topographically. And, despite the title, it also includes a good selection of prose accounts, some of the best being from Francis George Heath's explorations of the crannies of Devon, in the "pteridomania" era, which he wrote up in The Fern World and the The Fern Paradise: a plea for the culture of ferns (Internet Archive fernparadiseplea00heatiala). Devonshire scenery is, all in all, worth checking out.

PS: I can find no clues to the identity of "Musopolus". But I suspect it was someone acquainted with some pretty obscure literature; the pseudonym appears to allude to a character called Musopolus in a 1550 Latin comic play about student life, Studentes, comoedia de vita studiosorum, by Christoph Stymmel (aka Christoph Stummel aka Christophorus Stymmelius, a Lutherian theologian who himself wrote under the pseudonym Ignoto Peerdeklontio).

- Ray

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