Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Joan Abbay - Art & The Holy Grail

Found --  a slim volume of poetry from 1927 Lodequest: A Ballad of the Grail (Ancient House, Ipswich 1927) by Herbert Hudson. His wife produced the illustrated cover and also contributed one of the poems. She was Joan Abbay an East Anglian artist, and this is the only example of her work currently online, although it is possible some of her paintings are occasionally sold at auction.

The introduction to the book places the Grail legend in context, quoting from Jessie L Weston's The Quest of the Holy Grail (1913)- (also an influence on a somewhat better known poem*):

Every student of mediaeval literature will bear witness that there were strange current stirring in those days, that more was believed, that more was known than the official guardians of faith and morals cared to admit; that much, very much of this undercurrent of yearning and investigation was concerned with the search for the source of life;
life physical, and life immortal. I contend that the Grail romances were a survival that period of unrest…The secret of the Grail I hold to be above all a human problem. When  seekers after Truth will consent to work together in harmony, doing full justice to each other’s views, then, and not till then, the secret of the Grail will cease to be a secret. 

Joan Abbay contributes a poetic ‘interlude’ in her husband’s poem. It concerns a young girl- ‘a little wild woodland thing’- who is secretly following a ‘Companie’ of knights on a Grail quest:

She heard a little lean hongrished page
Ask an old friar with paunch so round
Whether perchance a fairy ring
Or a big puff ball it might be found
Or whether it lay at the farthest bound
Of the hill where the rainbow goes under ground.

The information about Joan Abbay comes from pencilled notes in the book, presumably by her. She is not credited with the poem or the cover, although her poem has a very different style (Elves, woodland life) to her husband.

*T.S. Eliot. The Waste Land (Hogarth Press, London 1922).


2 comments:

  1. "Hongrished"?
    Is this an invented version of "hungry", perhaps? The only time it appears on the 'net is in this post.

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    1. Thanks Roger. Yes that's pretty much it..Oddly enough when I looked back at the original text there is a printed note referring to this word - it says 'starving.' Hungry and famished, I guess.

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