The Mysterious Duet of Green Darkness.

These are just my initial notes on this, I may have more to say about it as I research.

Where do authors get their ideas?
Solving a literary mystery.

Years ago I read a book titled “Green Darkness” by author Anya Seton. It is a historical romance with a theme of reincarnation. Towards the end of the book one of the characters references a poem and gives the author of the poem as “…somebody Phillips.”

“Twas the moment deep,
When we are conscious of the secret dawn,
Amid the darkness that we feel is green,
Thy face remembered is from other worlds,
It has been died for, though I know not when,
It has been sung of, though I know not where.”

Authors are a crafty bunch. Seton gives no other reference or credit for the poem.

The author of at least part of the poem would appear to be British poet and playwright Stephen Phillips, the son of a Reverend. One of the main characters in the story is given the name Stephen Marsdon, a chaplain. While you’d have to read the novel to get the full gist of what seems the source of Seton’s inspiration, the more you read about Phillips, his life and work, in conjunction with the novel, the more the coincidences begin to unfold and the story of the story seems to reveal itself.

 I’m feeling very much as though I’ve solved a “mystery” as I’ve long wondered as to the source of that poem. It isn’t much of a stretch to imagine that Seton read the work of Phillips, as well as of his life, and set to work on her novel. Seton was born in 1904, Phillips passed away in 1915, they were from different times, different worlds, never knew one another. As the novel was published in 1972, who would be the wiser? The theme of the novel is a modern romance, for the time in which it was written, set in 1968, tormented by the past, the reincarnated souls of former lovers who could not be together in their past life. It has a “happy ending” after a fashion, such that those are. I first read the novel when I was sixteen years old and have always kept a copy.

The novel is currently being turned into a screenplay but I think the possible story of how Seton arrived at her story makes it all the more interesting.

Green Darkness
Anya Seton
Stephen Phillips
The Only Place I Could Find Any Part of That Poem

Note: I was unable to discover any further information with regard to this story.

“After such argument what can I plead?
Or what pale promise make? Yet since it is
In woman to pity rather than to aspire,
A little I will speak. I love thee then
Not only for thy body packed with sweet
Of all this world, that cup of brimming June,
That jar of violet wine set in the air,
That palest rose sweet in the night of life;
Nor for that stirring bosom all besieged
By drowsing lovers, or thy perilous hair;
Nor for that face that might indeed provoke
Invasion of old cities; no, nor all
Thy freshness stealing on me like strange sleep.
Nor for this only do I love thee, but
Because Infinity upon thee broods;
And thou art full of whispers and of shadows.
Thou meanest what the sea has striven to say
So long, and yearned up the cliffs to tell;
Thou art what all the winds have uttered not,
What the still night suggesteth to the heart.
Thy voice is like to music heard ere birth,
Some spirit lute touched on a spirit sea;
Thy face remembered is from other worlds,
It has been died for, though I know not when,
It has been sung of, though I know not where.
It has the strangeness of the luring West,
And of sad sea-horizons; beside thee
I am aware of other times and lands,
Of birth far-back, of lives in many stars.
O beauty lone and like a candle clear
In this dark country of the world! Thou art
My woe, my early light, my music dying.”
Stephen Phillips.

Is it possible that Anya Seton “borrowed” these lines:

 “Thy face remembered is from other worlds,
It has been died for, though I know not when,
It has been sung of, though I know not where.”

Adding her own lines before it to create the poem that appears in the book?

“Twas the moment deep,
When we are conscious of the secret dawn,
Amid the darkness that we feel is green,
Thy face remembered is from other worlds,
It has been died for, though I know not when,
It has been sung of, though I know not where.”

Perhaps then giving the reference to the author of the poem as being “…somebody Phillips” was Anya Seton’s way of hiding a clue, hiding a key. I bet she was smiling.
I know I am.

~T.S.

4 thoughts on “The Mysterious Duet of Green Darkness.

  1. Hi,
    As one of the screenwriters adapting GREEN DARKNESS, I'm thrilled to learn more about the mystery. Anya Seton was truly inspired when she wrote this book and her thought process may help in the evolution of the script.
    We wish you success in your research and look forward to further posts.
    Best
    Angela Falkowska

    Like

  2. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I've always loved the book and been curious as to the source of the poem. Your webpage actually reminded me of that curiosity and that I'd yet to employ the internet to try to find out who “…somebody Phillips” was. I look forward to seeing your adaptation of the book become a film. Success to you! ~ Terasa Skultety

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s