Page:In Flanders Fields and Other Poems.djvu/71

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In Flanders Fields

fore not unseemly that I should have written to him, when "In Flanders Fields" appeared in Punch. Amongst his papers I find my poor letter, and many others of which something more might be made if one were concerned merely with the literary side of his life rather than with his life itself. Two references will be enough. Early in 1905 he offered "The Pilgrims" for publication. I notified him of the place assigned to it in the magazine, and added a few words of appreciation, and after all these years it has come back to me.

The letter is dated February 9th, 1905, and reads: "I place the poem next to my own buffoonery. It is the real stuff of poetry. How did you make it? What have you to do with medicine? I was charmed with it: the thought high, the image perfect, the expression complete; not too reticent, not too full. Videntes autem stellam gavisi sunt gaudio magno valde. In our own tongue,—'slainte filidh'." To his mother he wrote, "the Latin is translatable as, 'seeing the star they rejoiced with exceeding gladness'." For the benefit of those whose education has proceeded no further than the Latin, it may be explained that the two last words mean, "Hail to the poet".

To the inexperienced there is something portentous about an appearance in print and some-