To Orwell Today,
I notice that at ORWELL'S WIFE NAMED "1984", the question: "How would I find a copy of Eileen Blair's "End of the Century, 1984", complete and unabridged? Anywhere on the net?" is only answered with excerpts and "I've never seen the poem in its entirety."
The full poem is available in html by google at webcache.
- David-Sarah Hopwood
Congrats on finding Orwell's wife's poem in its entirety - and thanks a million for sending it.
I'll share it now with ORWELL TODAY readers, along with some links to stories about Orwell and Eileen's life together.
All the best,
End of the Century, 1984
Synthetic winds have blown away
Material dust, but this one room
Rebukes the constant violet ray
And dustless sheds a dusty gloom.
Wrecked on the outmoded past
Lie North and Hillard, Virgil, Horace,
Shakespeare's bones are quiet at last,
Dead as Yeats or William Morris.
Have not the inmates earned their rest?
A hundred circles traversed they
Complaining of the classic quest
And, each inevitable day,
Illogically trying to place
A ball within an empty space.
Every loss is now a gain
For every chance must follow reason.
A crystal palace meets the rain
That falls at its appointed season.
No book disturbs the lucid line
For sun-bronzed scholars tune their thought
To Telepathic Station 9
From which they know just what they ought:
The useful sciences; the arts
Of telesalesmanship and Spanish
As registered in Western parts;
Mental cremation that shall banish
Relics, philosophies and colds --
Worlds have died that they may live,
May plume again their fairest feathers
And in their clearest songs may give
Welcome to all spontaneous weathers.
Bacon's colleague is called Einstein,
Huxley shares Platonic food,
Violet rays are only sunshine
Christened in the modern mood,
In this house if in no other
Past and future may agree,
Each herself, but each the other
In a curious harmony,
Finding both a proper place
In the silken gown's embrace.
by Eileen O'Shaughnessy, 1934
(Orwell's first wife)
[Note in the photo of Eileen at the top of the page that Orwell's shadow (as he was taking the picture) can be seen on the wall she's sitting on ~ Jackie Jura]
Reader Susan enjoyed reading Orwell's wife's poem
ORWELL'S WIFE'S GRAVE (...She is buried in Newcastle at St. Andrew's and Jesmond Cemetery.... Orwell's wife Eileen had died on March 29th, 1945, a month after Orwell had left for Europe as war correspondent for the Observer newspaper. The last word in the unfinished letter she'd been writing him before she died was "clock" which is found in the first sentence of "1984".... Her funeral was on April 3rd and in "1984" Winston starts his diary on "April 4th". Also, Orwell may have been honouring Eileen when he named "1984" because she had written a futuristic poem in 1934 entitled "End of the Century, 1984", which was based on her recent reading of Huxley's "Brave New World". In her poem she describes the future fifty years down the road...)
HOW ORWELL NAMED 1984 (...Another theory I kind of think could be the reason Orwell chose "1984" is to honour his wife who wrote a poem entitled "End of the Century, 1984" based on a time period fifty years hence from 1934 which was when she read "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley. As a point of interest, Huxley taught for a short period of time at Eton (during WWI) and was actually one of Orwell's teachers...). Go to HUXLEY UNBRAVE NEW WORLD ORDER
1.Winston's Diary (...It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of VICTORY MANSIONS, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him. The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats. The flat was seven flights up.... He dipped the pen into the ink and then faltered for just a second. A tremor had gone through his bowels. To mark the paper was the decisive act. In small clumsy letters he wrote: April 4th, 1984...)
ORWELL'S INEZ SPOKE NEWSPEAK (...Inez was a close enough friend of Orwell that it was to her apartment that he went when he got back to England from Germany in April 1945 after receiving the telegram that Eileen had died in Newcastle while undergoing routine surgery. Inez was one of the very few people who witnessed Orwell in a moment of emotional breakdown. Usually he was able to hide his depth of feeling from everyone but she wrote in her diary that he was almost unrecognizable when she opened the door. He was wearing his war-correspondent captain's long-coat and was seriously ill himself. Inez went with him to the train station to see him off as he travelled up north to arrange Eileen's funeral. Years later she also witnessed Orwell cry when talking about Eileen...)
ORWELL'S 27B CANONBURY SQUARE (...It was a happy time for the Orwells when they moved to Canonbury Square after a V-1 "doodle-bug" destroyed their previous flat and temporarily buried the typescript of Animal Farm. They had a five month old baby boy named Richard Horatio Blair who they'd adopted in June 1944. Their eight-year marriage was made stronger by their mutual adoration of the baby and they were very indulgent parents. Eileen quit her job at the Ministry of Food where she'd been working since 1942. Orwell was making enough money from his journalism for them to scrape by financially. Since quiting the BBC in 1943 he'd been literary editor of the Tribune and was writing a weekly column named "As I Please". He was also writing book reviews, essays and columns for other publications. Then in February 1945 - as the war was winding down - the Observer offered Orwell a job as their war correspondent to France. This was the kind of job Orwell had wanted all through the war years and he jumped at the chance, telling Eileen he'd only be gone for two months. So he quit his job at the Tribune, put on a war correspondent's uniform and left for the front lines. Eileen, who had some health problems that she was concealing from Orwell, moved with Richard up to Newcastle to stay with Dr. Gwen O'Shaugnessy, her deceased brother's wife, the one who had found the baby for them. While waiting for Orwell to return Eileen decided to have a hysterectomy to remove the tumours that were causing internal bleeding. That way she could be recuperated and ready to join him by the time he came back in April. On March 22nd she sent him an eight page letter telling him all about her reasons for having the operation and expressing her hopes and dreams for their future. She told him she hated London and wanted to move into the country where he could stop wasting time with journalism and get started on his next book. A week later she asked the Observer to cable him asking for his consent because the letter would take too long to get to him in time. Orwell cabled back his consent, having no idea there would be any problems. On March 29th, while Eileen was lying in her hospital bed waiting to be taken into the operating room, she started a letter to Orwell, "Dearest", telling him that she was already starting to feel drowsy from the morphia. After a couple of paragraphs her words trailed off in mid sentence. A short time later the operation began but within minutes something went wrong. Eileen's body reacted adversely to the anaesthetic, and she suffered a heart attack. All attempts to revive her failed and she died on the operating table....)
ORWELL THE FAMILY MAN (...But happily, shortly before ANIMAL FARM was published in 1945, Orwell and Eileen had adopted a baby boy who filled the void in their marriage. Tragically Eileen died when the baby was nine months old. Many friends thought "George" wouldn't be able to cope and would perhaps give the baby back for adoption. But Orwell never had any intention of that and became a doting, competent and loving single parent (with help from a live-in housekeeper, Susan and later his sister, Avril)...)
ORWELL'S LIFE IN WALLINGTON (..."Fortunately, Eileen, when he brought her to see it the next week, shared his enthusiasm for it as well as his indifference to its defects: they were neither of them "mod-con" addicts. She was as drawn as he to the notion of reviving the store, undaunted at the prospect of reclaiming the garden, and delighted at the idea of their keeping animals -- hens, of course, in a yard of their own, which would supply eggs; and goats, which would supply milk and be stabled in the shed behind the house, but put to graze in the common land, a fairly large area of rough grass and bushes and brambles, some distance from the cottage. Very likely the tininess of The Stores, its being little more than an oversized "playhouse," appealed to her fantasy side. For if Eileen was ironic, witty, practical, and immensely rational -- always ready to bring Eric down to earth from one of his wilder flights -- she was also deeply imaginative, and enjoyed "inventing" another world, populated with farmyard animals, whose traits of personality she developed with the skill of a psychologist or a novelist, bestowing names upon them -- Kate and Mabel were the goats at The Stores -- and creating for them an ever more complex, interminable series of adventures. For a time she thought of incorporating them into a children's story that would be set in a farmyard, whose animal characters, in that ancient tradition going back to Aesop, would reproduce the traits of their human prototypes. But when the war came the project was gradually abandoned (like The Stores itself), and it survived only in the conversations she and Eric would have in bed at night, amusing themselves as the bombs fell over London, and they invented new adventures: foibles and follies for the animals of their imaginary farm."
"But there was one significant flaw in The Stores -- evident immediately to Eileen's closest friends and to her brother Laurence -- that she either did not or chose not to recognize. It was an ideal place for a dedicated writer eager to get on with his writing, and to be at a safe distance from the encroachments of the London literary and political world. But for a child psychologist about to embark on a career, living there would have insuperable disadvantages. The awkwardness of reaching London from Wallington virtually ruled it out; and Cambridge, the other logical alternative for a starting point, was equally difficult to reach. But when Eric brought her to the village and showed her the house with such unbounded enthusiasm, it did not occur to her to raise objections. She seemed to fall into wholehearted agreement with his plans, quite as though she had no plans of her own."...)
ORWELL'S TB DOC O'SHAUGHNESSY (...The day after their wedding in Wallington in June 1936 (at the reception of which they'd served Ayelsford Duck) Orwell had gone right back to work writing THE ROAD TO WIGAN PIER. Then immediately after sending it to the publisher in December 1936, he'd gone to Spain (Eileen followed soon after) and spent six months there fighting alongside Spanish socialists defending their coalition government against overthrow by capitalist-backed fascist Franco. Eileen was working in the Independent Labour Party office in Barcelona, but visited Orwell at the front... Shortly after that, in May 1937, Orwell got shot through the throat, and it was a miracle he lived - the bullet travelling so fast it cauterized the wound as it passed through his neck. The doctors said he'd never talk again - one of his vocal chords having been severed - but surprisingly his voice did come back, although much weaker than before. Eileen sent a medical report to her brother for his consultation. The bullet also caused nerves in Orwell's shoulder to be pinched and the pain shooting down his right arm was so severe he couldn't sleep and had to have it in a sling for well over a month - thus losing the use of his writing hand. Then, finally, the pain went away and he could use his arm again but the tips of his fingers remained numb long after. Then in June - after hiding from Stalin's secret police, the KGB (who were throwing Orwell's militia compatriots into prison and executing them) - Orwell and Eileen escaped into France and home to England....)
VISITING ORWELL'S WEDDING CHURCH (...And there on the right, in all its glory, is St. Mary's Church where on Tuesday, June 9th, 1936, Eric Arthur Blair married Eileen Maud O'Shaughnessy. He was 33 and she was 30. Godcidently, it was almost exactly thirteen years later, on June 8, 1949, that "1984" was published... Eileen died on March 29th, 1945, and was buried on April 3, 1945. No doubt, in cryptic remembrance of her, Orwell had Winston Smith, the hero of "1984", begin his diary on April 4th....)
ORWELL'S 77 PARLIAMENT HILL (..."This woman, who would indeed become George Orwell's wife, was an exceptional person. She came from a proud Irish family who had come to England in the early nineteenth century and had settled on the Tyneside. The daughter of a Collector of Customs, she was born on 25 September 1905 in South Shields. There was only one other child in the family, her older brother Laurence, and she was devoted to him. Both children received excellent educations. He studied medicine at the University of Durham and in Berlin, and was the winner of four scholarships. At the age of twenty-six he was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. She was educated at Sunderland High School, and then won a scholarship to one of the women's colleges at Oxford - St Hugh's - from which she received her degree in English Letters in 1927."...
"It was this slightly mischievous sense of humour which attracted Orwell to her in the first place. She could appreciate his dry wit, and she was capable of matching it with her own quips. She was not intimidated by him, and she was not the kind of woman whom he could easily shock with his unconventional remarks. She was also one of the most intelligent women he would ever meet, and he was well aware of it. Having read widely in English literature, she could hold her own with him in discussions about poetry or fiction. And as her surviving letters show, she was an excellent writer, with a strong sense of style. Her friends thought that Orwell's marriage to Eileen was, among other things, beneficial to his writing. They believed that she was a perceptive critic and influenced the development of his style by reading his works while he was in the process of writing them, and giving him her honest opinions..."
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