When Found, Make A Verse Of


In this book, Helen Bevington writes verse sprinkled with prose alongside notes she makes from other writers. I tried to read one of her other books– Charley Smith’s Girl– but choked on it and put it down quickly. This one was much more palatable. The title comes from a quote from Dickens’s Domby & Son, “When found, make a note of.” Upon reading this, Helen dutifully reached for her notebook and made a note of Dickens’s note to make a note of what she had just found.
There’s quite a bit on the writing of poetry, along with her own poems throughout. She gives us glimpses of her travels to Europe, lessons she learns from artists (the way to create: to seek clarity over and over and over again, work as a creator not a copier), expositions on famous diarists throughout the ages, thoughts on where to live. My favorite section was her detailing the meeting of Philippa Strachey in London, although it reveals Helen as one of the unfortunate unawakened:

Miss Philippa was once Secretary of the London and National Society for Women’s Suffrage. She has been for many years, like her mother before her, President of the Feminist Society in England. She was published a “Memorandum on the Position of English Women in Relation to that of English Men,” and she is one of the old-line feminists. To meet her is, in these times, like running into a Buchmanite or a Fabian Socialist. You are amazed to find the person and the cause still alive. (ed: Oh poor deluded Helen)
Miss Philippa, surviving well, a sturdy figure with bristling iron-gray hair, is even yet happily embattled for the cause of women’s rights. On a second afternoon at tea in Gordon Square, she lectured me vigorously for an hour on the subject, unaware that her fiery words were largely wasted on one who would make a poor convert, being at hart more like that little woman in Keats’s sonnet: “God! she is like a milk-white labm that bleats for man’s protection.” (ed: God, save us from the unenlightened women sexists)