Peter Warlock: A Memoir of Philip Heseltine
By Cecil Gray
Warlock lovers throughout the world owe an everlasting debt to Cecil Gray. His moving and yet often controversial memoir written a few years after his friend’s death, is well worth investigating. It was Gray whose biography revealed the magical impact of Warlock’s life and music. Most of the ensuing literature that follows Gray’s work is directly due to his own tribute to his friend Heseltine. Although long out of print, many libraries the world over will have Gray’s book which deserves to be read despite the criticism of his book.
Cecil Gray wrote:
“Toward the end of September Philip and I met again. We stood, I remember, awhile on Westminster Bridge, just below Big Ben, to gaze up-river at a quince-coloured moon, slightly veiled by a tawny skein of vapour, sinking its round head in deeps of fuliginous cloud. A curious calm overhung us. I had applied for a commission and, having a far sharper imaginative notion of what modern war was like than most of my contemporaries, did not expect to survive and had already accomplished one half of that act of renunciation which was to be completed, in so far as in me lay, almost exactly a year later. Philip has expressed what he then felt in the following poem:”
I watched the moon set in a sea of golden gloom
Like a soft horn-tone, merging in the twilight chord:
Yet in the sickle image of the moon a sword
Lurks, and the horn but echoes trumpet shrieks of doom –
And men exult to drink the darkness of the tomb,
To pay the great price for the steely mastery,
And scorn to live and dream, and taste the ecstasy
The moon sheds, sinking in a sea of sable gloom.
October 14th, 1914
By Richard Valentine
Further information: Google Books