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A Rubaiyat of the Trenches and the mystery of ‘de C’

October 28, 2019

RF clery1019 trenchesThe Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam has a significant place in the history of the First World War, both as a source of solace to members of the armed services and others affected by the fighting, and as a stimulus to many well directed, and often bitter, poems, commenting on the conduct of the war.  Bob Forrest has recently been investigating one of the latter, whose authorship has long been uncertain.  The results of Bob’s research have now been published on his website (see link at end).  Bob summarises his article as follows. 

A Rubaiyat of the Trenches was a biting anti–War parody of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat published in London in 1917. Its author was named only as “de C”, and two candidates have been proposed for his identity – William Edward Clery (or de Clery as he sometimes styled himself) and Alec de Candole – both names neatly abbreviating to “de C”, of course.  Though there is no direct and unequivocal proof, all the evidence points to de Clery as the poem’s author. The article shows that the publisher of the poem was Frank Fawcett, and suggests that he may have been the anonymous “Friend” who wrote the Foreword.

As well as investigating the merits of both the possible authors,  along the way Bob looks at the religious doubts which arose as a result of the horrors of the Great War, one manifestation of which was A Rubaiyat of the Trenches His article provides a enlightening analysis of the many issues involved together with a fascinating tale of yet another unusual individual who played a part in the history of the Rubaiyat.  We are grateful to Bob for sharing his work with us.

The full article can be accessed via the following link:  http://www.bobforrestweb.co.uk/The_Rubaiyat/N_and_Q/W_E_Clery/W_E_Clery.htm .  The article will also be published shortly as one of Bob’s series of booklets on people connected with the Rubaiyat.  For more information on the limited circulation of these booklets, see https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2019/05/16/more-booklets-on-rubaiyat-artists-from-bob-forrest/

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