11-05-1884

James Elroy Flecker

JAMES ELROY FLECKER, English poet, born (d: 1915); English poet, novelist and playwright. Born in London, and educated at Dean Close School, Cheltenham, where his father was headmaster, and Uppingham School, he studied at Trinity College, and Caius College, Cambridge. While at Oxford he was greatly influenced by the last flowering of the Aesthetic movement there, under John Addington Symonds. Alas, publicity is a funny thing. Flecker was a contemporary of Rupert Brooke.

Both died young during WWI. Brooke, because of his jingoistic attitude towards war (useful to the government) and his good looks, became an instant legend. Flecker, who lacked both utility and looks, did not. Flecker, widely thought to be the superior poet, is known to few readers. His Collected Poems (1916) were published the year after he died at age 30. His poetry shares one trait in common with Brooke’s: the sexuality is ambiguous.

There is no question, however, that Flecker was Gay. His lover was the classicist J.D. Beazley, one of the world’s great authorities on Greek vases. His most widely known poem is “To a poet a thousand years hence”. The most enduring testimony to his work is perhaps an excerpt from “The Golden Journey to Samarkand” inscribed on the clock tower of the barracks of the British Army’s 22nd Special Air Service regiment in Hereford.