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Bax, Clifford

Category: Poet

 

Clifford Bax (1886 – 1962) was an English writer, playwright, journalist, critic and editor, and a poet, lyricist and hymn writer.

He was also a translator, for example of Goldoni.

He was born in south London and went to the Slade and the Heatherly Art School.  But he gave up painting to concentrate on writing.  Independent wealth gave Bax time to write.

In 1910 he married actress and jewellery-maker Gwendolyn Bishop, with whom he had a daughter Undine born 6 August 1911. The family moved to rural Wiltshire in 1912. From 1912-14, Bax wrote seven plays, four of which were produced, and five of which appeared in print for the first time in Orpheus [see below]. The Baxes moved back to London in 1916. Writing during the day, Bax worked at Whitehall as a news censor in the Press Bureau at night. From 1922 to 1924, Bax edited the periodical The Golden Hind, which presented work of graphic and literary art. The autobiographical Inland Far was published in 1925. Following the death of his first wife in 1926, he married Vera May Young in 1927.

Vera was a painter and poet (1888-1974) in 1927.  She had also been previously married to Stanley North, an artist, and Alexander Bell Filson Young (1876-1938), a journalist.

From 1917 to 1937, Bax produced a large number of plays in addition to poetry, criticism, biography and a novel. In addition, he was a founder (1919-1926) of the Phoenix Society, whose aim was to revive important Elizabethan and Restoration drama, and, in 1929, was elected chairman of the Incorporated Stage Society. Aside from the theatre, his interests included music, antiquities, Buddhism, theosophy, and Eastern philosophy generally.

 

Bax was a friend of Gustav Holst, whom he introduced to astrology, the critic James Agate, and Arthur Ransome, amongst others.

He met and played chess with Aleister Crowley in 1904, and kept up an acquaintance with him over the years. 

On a trip to Dublin in 1906, Bax met "A.E.," George William Russell, the "poet of theosophy." The two discussed starting a magazine that would bring the arts and theosophy together. In 1909, Bax realized the idea with the publication of a quarterly journal, Orpheus. The journal would appear steadily until 1912.

His interest in the esoteric extended to editing works of Jakob Boehme, and helping Allan Bennett, the Buddhist.

Bax also travelling extensively in the Orient, visited both China and Japan and became friends with a Japanese Buddhist poet and linguist named Tsutomi Inouye. 

Bax gained a great deal from the friendship learning more about Buddhist doctrine and visiting Japanese temples and gardens which Tsutomi was able to explain.  They also spent their evenings together, and one evening as they discussed poetry, Tsutomi offered to teach him some Chinese poems.  Tsutomi regarded them with great affection indicating they were more beautiful than many of the Japanese poems with which Bax was familiar and more philosophic.


 

And this is how Bax’s Chinese poems came into existence – they are actual Chinese poems that he recorded, not his, although as a very spiritually inclined poet, he was able to bring something of the beauty of the poetry into the translations.  I have provided a separate entry for these poems on the site, follow the link.

So I think you can see where his interests lay.

Bax died on November 18, 1962.

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