poems by mr. lawrence durrell and sir. charles johnston with pictures by teamgloria.


the Oxford Book of Travel Verse (thank you Los Angeles Library Request Materials Service) was a hodge podge of strange (and sometimes pretty xenophobic but alas those were the days, my friends) bon-mots-from-abroad but this one tickled us no end….

Then Petra flashed by in a wink
It looked like Eaton Square – but pink

Sir Charles Johnston


now Mr. Clive James has written a deeply interesting Review of Sir Charles (may we just call him Charles? or “Chuck?” as one of the Masters at school would say in an effort to be dry about their exasperation regarding the American culture creeping in on English soil).

After the war there were various other appointments before he took up his post in Australia. Clearly the accent has always been on uncomplaining service. Nor do the poems in any way question the idea of dutiful sacrifice: on the contrary, they underline it. Trying to identify that strangely identifiable voice, you finally recognise it as the voice of someone who has not talked before, but who has been so amply described that you think you know him. Johnston is the sort of man who has been written about under so many names that when he writes something himself he sounds like a legend come to life. He is the faithful servant of Empire, who now emerges, unexpected but entirely familiar, as its last poet.

_ Clive James

isn’t that a splendid allusion? The Last Poet of the British Empire! *cuesomethingceremonial*


and here’s one from brother-of-Gerald – actually a quick quote from Gerald First if you will indulge us:

“Each day had a tranquility a timelessness about it so that you wished it would never end. But then the dark skin of the night would peel off and there would be a fresh day waiting for us glossy and colorful as a child’s transfer and with the same tinge of unreality.”
― Gerald DurrellMy Family and Other Animals

and just to set the scene – here is a snapshot of Lawrence, the elder brother, then about 23 years old:

“At length the Turk turned to Larry:

‘You write, I believe?’ he said with complete lack of interest.

Larry’s eyes glittered. Mother, seeing the danger signs, rushed in quickly before he could reply.

‘Yes, yes’ she smiled, ‘he writes away, day after day. Always tapping at the typewriter’

and one more!


“Why keep in touch with them? That’s what I want to know,’ asked Larry despairingly. ‘What satisfaction does it give you? They’re all either fossilized or mental.’
‘Indeed, they’re not mental,’ said Mother indignantly.
‘Nonsense, Mother… Look at Aunt Bertha, keeping flocks of imaginary cats… and there’s Great-Uncle Patrick, who wanders about nude and tells complete strangers how he killed whales with a penknife…They’re all bats.”
― Gerald DurrellMy Family and Other Animals

and now to the POEM by Mr. Lawrence “Larry” Durrell

Owed to America

America     America
I see your giant image stir
O land of milk and bunny
Where the blue Algonquin flows
Where the scrapers scrape the ceiling
With that dizzy topless feeling
And everything that simply has to, goes!


Land of Doubleday and Dutton
Huge club sandwiches of mutton
More zip-fastener than button
Where the blue Algonquin flows
Home of musical and mayhem
Robert Frost and Billy Graham
Where you drain their brains but pay ’em
Then with dry Martinis slay ’em
Everyone that drinks ’em knows.


America    America
Terra un peu hysteria
For me as yet incognita
I see your giant image stir
Here no waffle lacks for honey
Avenues paved with easy money
Land of helpless idealism
Clerical evangelism
Land of prune and sometimes prism
Every kind of crazy ism
Where the blue Algonquin flows.


America    America
So full of esoterica
One day I’ll pierce the veils that hide
The spirit of the great divide
The sweet ambition which devours
You, super duper power of powers —-
But for the nonce I send you flowers.


If there was a cake you’d take it
If I had one heart you’d break it
Where the blue Algonquin flows
Looking forward, looking back
There seems nothing that you lack
America     America
Pray accept this cordial greeting
On a visit far too fleeting
Rest assured I’ll soon be back.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAoh look! there’s a Society regarding Larry Durrell – how lovely – we adore a meeting of minds.



nobody on This Coast, it seems.


but there’s also a Journal.

and a COMPETITION (we love to enter things).


how about you?

fancy writing a poem about islands today?

“No, you should have picked one from a poem
Being written softly with a brush-
The breathless ideogram for love we writers hunt.”
-Lawrence Durrell, “A Bowl of Roses”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwe may do so ourselves.

but only after a day working-in-the-photographic-studio (where we work on thursdays and have such a lovely time).


feeling very elegiac actually.

and it’s still only 07:23 AM in los angeles….

it’s going to be a            g l o r i o u s   d a y – darlings.


11 thoughts on “poems by mr. lawrence durrell and sir. charles johnston with pictures by teamgloria.

  1. oh my, oh my, this package of words and pictures was so overwhelmingly delightful, words can’t tell. spontaneous hugs from across the ocean and time zones! *sighshappily*

    bright minds, it’s bright minds that give me hope in the days of dark.

  2. Dearest G
    I can’t help but love Larry’s vertiginous verse on the US of A, but my favourite must be Johnston’s throwaway on Jordan’s jewel… brings to mind Vreeland commenting on Norm’s famous sub-continental phot-shot “How clever of Mr Parkinson to know that pink is the navy blue of India”.
    And can’t we all call him Chucky, please, pretty please?
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

      1. Oh Dear G
        Yet more evidence I fear that The Dandy is a gent if not out of his depth then certainly out of his epoch for I am forever using *bright* and *clever* to describe people and things…
        Perhaps the world will catch up with me by going backwards one day.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  3. My little brain just exploded with happiness over this post. My Family and Other Animals …hugs to myself and anyone else who cares….. Alexandria Quartet (somewhat baffling) but what happiness when you read these books in Cairo and Alexandria……brings memories of Cavafy…..again I am reliving Egypt…then excellent learning for me via Clive James on Sir Charles Johnston…..his words on Petra…I think Jordan… then Lawrence of Arabia (never tire of that)…..and then Durrells connection to India, home of some of my favourite writers ever…..oh enough, I’m exhausted…going to calm down by looking at your photos again .

    1. so happy with your reverie!


      reading Gerald at a Very Early Age made us realize that Real LIfe was just Material (and thus much more fun than we had previously anticipated).


      _tg x

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