Autograph Manuscript: 'Poems'

Scope and Content

Contains revised poems in autograph and typescript. Many leaves pasted in. Peake also lists categories for his poems: love, war-time, dejection, ego, objective poems, nature, abstract. There are numerous drawings of heads, figures (including sketches of his children and wife Maeve Gilmore), animals and dust-jacket designs. Towards the end of the manuscript there is a page of reflections on the process of writing an unspecified work [Titus Groan]. This notebook [referred to as the 'red book' in Add MS 88931/2/2] is a dummy copy [from publishers Eyre and Spottiswoode]. Begun May 1940 (but some poems date from the late 1930s). Covering dates suggested by R W Maslen in his introduction to Mervyn Peake, Collected Poems (Manchester: Carcanet, 2008), pp.1-2.

With the notebook there are three supplementary loose leaves comprising:

  • revised autograph poem entitled ‘Snow on Sark’;
  • revised autograph poem, ‘Hail Tommy-two-legs gobler that you are...’;
  • revised autograph fragment about Titus evading two pursuants, including a drawing of Titus wearing helmet and armour [draft material for Titus Alone?].

Poems contained in the notebook are:

  • ‘April gone by and the next faint fable-month’;
  • ‘In the fabric of this love’;
  • ‘The Three’;
  • ‘Each day I live is a glass room’;
  • ‘As a great town draws the eccentrics in’;
  • ‘There are no quiet and smoothed sheets of death’ [later titled ‘Victims’];
  • ‘Grottoed beneath your ribs no longer’;
  • ‘The Restaurant’;
  • ‘Before mans [man’s] bravery I bow my head:’;
  • ‘If Trees Gushed Blood’;
  • ‘When the heart cries in love’;
  • ‘What is that noise in the shaking trees behind’;
  • ‘Neither to captain nor be captained’ [later revised as ‘Neither to captain nor captained be’];
  • ‘Crumbles the crested scroll’;
  • ‘Wayward O world and unpredictable’;
  • ‘O love, the world’s solution and the fever’;
  • ‘I Was Not There’;
  • ‘Maeve. If when I married you I was in love’;
  • ‘This field is dim with sheaves’;
  • ‘Brave Lies Conspiring in the Three-Hued Flag’;
  • ‘Sing I The Fickle, Fit-For-Nothing Fellows’;
  • ‘London Buses’;
  • ‘Are We Not The Richer?’;
  • ‘Jobs’ eagle skids the thin sky still’;
  • ‘El Greco’;
  • ‘The Metal Bird’;
  • ‘The pit-boys lung is black’;
  • ‘His head is moulded out of English weather’;
  • ‘Be rapid to perceive the signet flame’;
  • ‘The Crystal’;
  • ‘Fort Darland’;
  • ‘The Boy’;
  • ‘Crisis’;
  • ‘Dead Rat’;
  • ‘May 1940’;
  • ‘September 1939’;
  • ‘It is the Malady’;
  • ‘How foreign to the spirits [illeg] [‘early’ supplemented above line] beauty’;
  • ‘At my inmost heart is fear’;
  • ‘Absent [‘Estranged’ supplemented above line] from you where is there corn and wine?’;
  • ‘This is the darkness: I have known great storms’;
  • ‘I cannot find it in me to be gay’;
  • ‘There is no difference between night and day’;
  • ‘This German pinewood swam’;
  • ‘When Beauty rides into the empty eyes’;
  • ‘As though for sanctuary [‘anchorage’ supplemented on line above]’;
  • ‘Somehow not part of anything: apart’;
  • ‘Lug out your spirit from its [‘cave’ crossed out] cage of clay!’;
  • ‘There is an aristocracy of love’;
  • ‘How dangerous a thing to fill mans [man’s] inches of earth with life’;
  • ‘Into the sky all men must turn their eyes’;
  • ‘And I thought you beside me’;
  • ‘Which is more bleak and cold’;
  • ‘I watched where the tall trees shook’;
  • ‘Into the teeming [‘dusky’ supplemented above line] well’;
  • ‘Satan’;
  • ‘I am the slung stone that no target has’;
  • ‘The world is broken without love’;
  • ‘Features forgoe [forgo] their power’;
  • ‘Love poem’;
  • ‘Leave train’;
  • ‘The April radiance of the green light dances’;
  • ‘Let dreams be definate [definite] [‘absolute’ supplemented above line]’;
  • ‘Conscript’;
  • ‘The Birch Saplings’;
  • ‘This is the year of Our Lord’;
  • ‘His[?] head, and hands were built for sin’;
  • ‘I have become less clay than hazel-rod’;
  • ‘Cold Island!’;
  • ‘Rembrandt’;
  • ‘In this, the still absorption burns the angel’;
  • ‘Victoria Station 6.58pm’;
  • ‘Half-Light’;
  • ‘How shall I find me’;
  • ‘Let the result be what it may’;
  • ‘Sark; evening.’;
  • ‘Roll Them Down’;
  • ‘With People So With Trees’;
  • ‘That Phoenix Hour’;
  • ‘Robert Frost’;
  • ‘Tides’;
  • ‘The Wings’;
  • ‘The Consumptive (Belsen, 1945)’;
  • ‘The palmerworm’;
  • ‘Epstein’s Adam’;
  • ‘The Women of the World Inhabit Her’;
  • ‘The lit mosaic of the wood’;
  • ‘This is my world!’;
  • ‘As battle closes in my body stoops’;
  • ‘When all is said and done’;
  • ‘Their agony slides through me’;
  • ‘Possesionless [Possessionless], O leveret!’;
  • ‘No, not in Truth, but in Belief is passion’.

Conditions Governing Access


Not Public Record(s)

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Materials: hard-bound volume in red covers.

Dimensions: 220mm x 145mm.


Many poems later published in Mervyn Peake, Collected Poems, ed by R W Maslen (Manchester: Carcanet, 2008). See Maslen's introduction and note on the text for further discussion of this material, including dating.