01-William Sydney Graham

First | Previous | Next | Last

Cage Without Grievance (1942)

This Edition

Cage Without Grievance
Published1942 First editionYes
FormatHardcover (232 x 148mm) EditionOrdinary
PublisherParton Press Printing
ISBN Printed byRobert Maclehose Ltd
Series No of pages31


W.S. (Sydney) Graham's first published collection of fifteen poems was illustrated with three drawings by Benjamin Creme and Robert Frame each.

"When it was first published in wartime Glasgow, Cage Without Grievance (1942) must have seemed a strange and exotic production with its uncompromising, difficult text, and its Picassoesque illustrations. The imagery of the drawings (bullfights, semi-nudes, warm climate interiors) is by no means native Scottish but rather South European, and they show a hesitant and partial absorption of Cubism which they use not as an organising principle but as a decorative effect." (Tony Lopez, The Poetry of W.S. Graham, Edinburgh University Press 1989, p.26)
    Benjamin Creme (b.1922) first met the publisher, David Archer, in 1941. Archer was a wealthy and "very generous patron to a crowd of Glasgow bohemians, as he had previously been in London when he owned and ran the Parton Street bookshop, the centre of the London poetry scene in the late 1930s. He moved to Glasgow to get away from the Blitz, opened another bookshop and the Scott Street Arts Centre, and bought a large flat in Sandyford Place, Sauchiehall Street, where he allowed various artistic people to live and work for little or no rent: Jankel Adler, Helen Biggar, Douglas Campbell, Benjamin Creme, Robert Frame, Graham, and the actress and poet Julian Orde (a girlfriend of Graham's) were among those who lived in Archer's flat." (Hester Jones & Ralph Pite (eds), W.S. Graham: Speaking Towards You, Liverpool University Press 2004, p.26) "It was at Creme's invitation that Graham moved into David Archer's flat in Sandyford Place, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow." (Lopez, p.2)
    In an article for the Edinburgh Review (No.75, 1987) Robert Frame wrote about "Graham's time in the rent-free flat in Glasgow, of the poverty and hunger of their life there but also of the social freedom, the music, excitement and fun." (Jones & Pite, p.26) "With Robert Frame and Benjamin Creme ... Graham assisted in running the Scott Street Arts Centre and organized a series of public performances, each incorporating music and each based on the work of an individual poet. Among them were readings of Blake and Rimbaud, an evening of contemporary poetry, including Graham's own work, and a dramatized performance of Eliot's 'The Waste Land' with the different voices and characters portrayed by different readers. Some of the events were staged to incorporate audience participation, with different locations created by the use of screens, furniture and suspended canvas stretched into corridors to form a maze. Each section of the event would be in a different part of the construction and the performance included the conducting of the audience from place to place through the set." (Jones & Pite, p.27-28)
    According to William Hardie in Scottish Painting -- 1837 to the Present (Studio Vista, UK, 1990, p.168), "Robert Frame and Benjamin Creme took over management of The Centre before it finally collapsed after some eighteen months of precarious existence."

The front board features an unsigned draft of a detail from the second drawing by Benjamin Creme. The title of this volume is a quotation from the poem The Seven Journeys that Graham (1918-1986) had written earlier, but which was only published in 1944.

Published in August 1942 by Parton Press in ordinary and limited editions. The limited edition of 50 copies is printed on 'mould made' paper and has hand-coloured illustrations. Legend has it that the artists got bored with hand-colouring the specials and that only about twenty of them were actually finished.

    First | Previous | Next | Last