Formative Years

London & Oxford

London & Oxford Cont'd


Before the War

New Zealanders

The War Years

The War Years Cont'd

Heading Home


The Wordsworths & Others

Towards an Autobiography

Autobiographies & Verse


James & Others

Modern Years

The Final Years



Formative Years

In June 1925, Brasch's aunt Emily (Forsyth) gave him this copy of An Anthology of Modern Verse. This book, important in the development of Brasch's own poetics, introduced to him the poetry of Rupert Brooke, James Elroy Flecker, Walter de la Mare, W. B. Yeats, Edward Thomas, Thomas Hardy and Wilfred Owen. This book also contains tell-tale signs of what would become a life-long habit: the marking of liked poems with crosses, and annotating the end pages with lists and further references. Loosely tipped in is 'The Song of Shadows', a later unpublished poem.

An Anthology of Modern Verse. 14th ed. London: Methuen, 1923. Brasch PR1224.AL65 1923

Brasch's grandmother, Sara Fels, taught herself Sanskrit in order to read the Upanishads, and his mother owned the works of Rudyard Kipling. Brasch came to enjoy Indian culture and in later years he read the works of Tagore, translated Punjabi verse by Amitra Pritam, visited India in 1964, and came to love Indian music for its subtle quality and how it 'stole on the senses'. This first edition copy of Kipling's The Jungle Book is signed by his mother and dated September 1899.

Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book. 1st ed. London: Macmillan, 1899. Brasch PR4854.J8 1899

According to Brasch, John Keats was 'the first poet I came to know as a person.' He read his mother's own copy of the poet's works, and his cousins Mary and Dora de Beer gave him a copy of Colvin's Life. Brasch wanted a copy of the Complete Poems, but his father, fearful of his absorption in reading and writing poetry, said no. Only after Mary de Beer's comment: 'But, Hymie, if you don't let the boy have it, he'll get a complex', did his father relent. This particular edition was purchased while Brasch was living at Primrose Hill, London, in 1934.

John Keats, Poetical Works. London: Oxford University Press, 1931. Brasch PR4831.FP66

When Winsome Milner stayed with her parents at Waitaki, her arrival brought a 'charge of raw electricity' into the school. Strongly attracted to Winsome, Brasch wrote her many letters and poems. She introduced Brasch to jazz songs like 'Barcelona' and 'Picador', and encouraged him to read G. B. Shaw, John Galsworthy and William Morris. In 1926, he acquired this copy of Flecker's Collected Poems which they read together. In his Indirections, he records how the dark romantic Flecker with a chrysanthemum over one ear 'made us free of a fantastic eastern Mediterranean world that existed only in his poems.'

James Elroy Flecker, Collected Poems. London: Secker, [1916]. Brasch PR6011.L4 A17 1916