This article is taken from Stand 218, 16(2) May - June 2018.

Ragini Indrajit Mohite Dom Moraes

Dom Moraes in the Brotherton Special Collections

Leeds’s University Library’s Special Collections has recently acquired papers of the Indian poet, war correspondent, and editor Dominic Francis ‘Dom’ Moraes (1938-2004). These select materials include a manuscript notebook written in 1963, a letter to Naseem Khan, seven manuscript and typescript poems [c1969] bequeathed by Khan, and letters exchanged between Moraes and Geoffrey Hill in 1976 and 1984.

Moraes’s 1963 notebook of poems and smaller prose entries seems occupied largely with carefully revised drafts of the poem ‘After Hours’, dedicated to Francis Bacon and published in the 1965 collection John Nobody. In the manuscript, the poem is referred to as ‘The Colony Room’, of which Bacon was a founder member, and to which Moraes’s first wife Henrietta also belonged. Through the club, Henrietta had become the muse for several artists, and the subject of Bacon’s eponymous portrait. Indeed, the final lines of the published poem, ‘“everyone is a drifter” you observe. / with a terrible smile you turn away’, seem to speak of Henrietta, who is portrayed as a similarly posturing subject in Bacon’s painting and in photographs by John Deakin. The manuscript shows that Moraes replaced the line ‘with an interested air, then turn away’ with the ‘terrible smile’ of his speaker’s companion. However, the resulting poem does not appear among these drafts, suggesting that Moraes continued work on it elsewhere.

The collection includes an intimate typescript letter from Moraes to Naseem Khan, which proudly discusses ...
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