A knotless thread

Another sonnet by Henry Ellison; I can’t find out much about him, except in an extract from a book published in 1907, written by Alfred H. Miles, The sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. According to Miles, Ellison was born in Bagolt which I actually think is Bagillt in Flint; he was born in 1811 and his father was MP for Hereford. Henry went to Oxford University, but it seems unclear whether he matriculated or not, and by the age of twenty-two he was at Lincoln’s Inn, one of the four Inns of Court in London.

Miles records that maybe Henry suffered from poor health when young, mentioning one of his poems “On being told I could not live long.” He seems to have been quite a depressed young man, but he travelled widely abroad to Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. he began writing poetry  and published a book of verse in 1833, and another in 1838.

Henry married Ellen Wells in 1847 but there don’t seem to have been any children, and she died some time before 1861, because he appears in the census, living in Ryde on the Isle of Wight, as ‘Fund Holder, House Proprietor, Poetry Author Of’. In 1871 he has moved back to London, to Kensington, and now his census return says ‘author’. Henry died, still in Kensington, in 1880; as Miles comments, ‘he seems to have slipped out of life like a knotless thread through a needle.’

Another interesting sonnet from him:


The Sonnet-Rack
Poor Thought! stretched on Rime’s Procrustean bed,
And threatened, saving that it doth not kill
Outright, with every mortal ache and ill
By Thought, Thought in the flesh, inherited,
Clothed on with Words, its mortal weeds. First head
And neck must crane and stretch; then feet, until
Of prescribed length, or lopped, sometimes with skill
Surgeonly, oftener hacked, till well-nigh dead.
So liest thou on the rack, Body and Soul,
At odds, in dread of rimed Death, who waits
At every turn, and mocks each twist and roll,
While words unsesquipedalian curse thy Fates!
Now ’tis thy racked brain can’t the thought control,
Now thy lame feet won’t go; curs’d in both states!


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