Recently I have been reading A History of Modern Poetry by David Perkins, Harvard University Press, and rediscovered many a familiar poet that I haven’t read in ages. John Davidson was one though I probably could not have told you more than he was “poet with Eliot connections” but that was about all.
Luckily Prof. Perkins filled in the details and gave a stanza from one of Davidson’s better poems, 30 Bob a Week. Of course doing a lot of poets, like a lot of anything is tedious, but some of the minors peppered with the greats should prove interesting fare.
Davidson and eliot
John Davidson was the son of a Presbyterian minister and born in Barhead, Scotland. He wrote for several newspapers but in the 1890’s devoted himself to verse. He was married with 2 children. He had a rather strange compulsion about “getting cancer” and when he did, he left his wife and his family and went to Cornwall to commit suicide. He was buried at sea with another strange request: his poems could not be anthologized until the copyright ran out. Needless to say, this left his wife and children penniless.
Thomas Stearns Eliot, the Great American poet, liked Davidson because the Scot was one of the first “Moderns” to write in slang. This is highlighted by Davidson’s moon in the 3rd house at 15 Scorpio 38 — making his writing more attuned to sound than prose — as a good poet should be but the kicker is it is opposite via a translation of light (from Mars) to Uranus in Taurus making that sound not high and literary but common and offbeat i.e. slang. The Midheaven at 26 Taurus 05 is conjunct and Venus partile, suggesting as he traveled he squirreled away bits and bobs of language for future use.
Still that stellium in the 9th house is troubling even with Jupiter there with his strong belief in nothing, that the ethereal netherworld of thought, philosophy and poesy that he did embrace left him empty. The fixed signs near the 10th, help fasten him some but with only the Moon opposite and that with Mars only supported his very bleak nihilistic view (sextile Saturnin the 11th).
Merlin and Kassandra
His Yod from Mars to Saturn holds out little promise, pointing as it does to 07 Sagittarius and the Asteroid Kassandra from Homer’s great poem the Iliad as she portends the Trojans falls if they allow the gift from Greeks within their walls.
That is supported by another wizard of fortune, the fabled English Merlin , a fictitious character from the Bard Geoffrey’s Historia Regum Britanniae. Merlin is well known for his many prophecies of the One and Future King of England, Arthur and the Holy Grail, and in Davidson’s chart is right next to his ascendant. Fatalistic to the core, Davidson like astrologer Jerome Cardan had always feared the hand of cancer as it foretold death and when he received a diagnosis of the curse, fled to Cornwall to make it so.
For the record, Cardan did not die from cancer, but because he had prophesied his death on a certain day, and to prove himself right, did.