Sweet Gale, or Bog Myrtle (Myrica Gale)

Sweet Gale, or Bog Myrtle (Myrica Gale).
(William James Linton was a radical engraver, artist, poet)

Linton, our artist poet, tells a tale,
How “the sweet South Wind underground was frozen,
And only growth to save her could avail:”
So “she grew up a plant; the plant so chosen
We call in our North Country the Sweet Gale.” 5
It is a pleasant plant, which I have seen
Adorn our moors; in many a rural dale
I too have found it; and it long has been
Prized by the people, who loved to give their ale
A flavour from the herb ere hops were known: 10
Its leaves hung in the houses, did not fail
To yield them their sweet fragrance; most did own
Its powers medicinial; and its wax did form
Fine scented tapers ‘gainst dark Winter’s storm.
And can we learn no lesson from this plant,
To guide us in our passage through the world?
Have we no offering from human want?
No pleasant perfumes from our lives unfurl’d?
If the Sweet Gale can e’en the bog adorn 5
With beauty and with fragrance, cannot we
Bring gifts to ev’ry child of woman born,
And help to gladden poor humanity?
We too can throw abroad some useful light,
Dispelling mental darkness around; 10
Can help to put fell Ignorance to flight;
And aid in binding up each bleeding wound,
Mental or physical, our fellows feel,
And cherish Virtue for our own and other’s weal.

George Markham Tweddell
[Sonnets on Trees and Flowers, pp. 7-8.] Also published in Leeds
Mercury Weekly Supplement, May 3, 1884. Voice of Masonry, May,
1884. Northern Weekly Gazette, April 24, 1897.

William James Linton
(December 7, 1812 – December 29, 1897) was an English-born American wood engraver, landscape painter,political reformer and author of memoirs, novels, poetry and non-fiction. More here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_James_Linton

Linton was prominent in the Chartist and Republican movements, and was very involved in the development of the utopian ideas based on the nobility of the worker that Morris and Ruskin later espoused. The English Republic, God and the People, a book published in 1851, seems to include his main political ideas. He was involved in the fights against Stamp Tax, and for parliamentary reform, and he edited the Chartist magazine, The Cause of the People. He was deeply immersed in the radical political culture of the times, a proto-Marxist. In America he edited magazines and a newspaper. More here http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/place-london/plain/A515341

Here are some examples of Tweddell’s use of some of WJ Linton’s woodcuts – accompanying Poetry of an Old Besom – 

One thought on “Sweet Gale, or Bog Myrtle (Myrica Gale)

  1. RubyTuesday

    I am intrigued about the use of Linton's engravings as I own the original block of the two children holding the T , along with 3 others that also have the same T in the corner. Is yhere any record of other blocks that he supplied ?


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