Thursday, March 15, 2012

Philip Grey’s 1913 NZ cricket poem

Earlier, I posted a substantial piece on Victoria College’s poet-cricketers in the early 1900s. I also found a cricket-related poem by Philip Grey that could well do as an Epilogue to that article.
Grey, a contributor to the Spike at Victoria College, was included in the post-WWI anthology, The Old Clay Patch, in 1920.
His full name is Philip Oswald Grey, son of Ellen and George Grey. He was born in 1891, presumably in Taranaki, and was educated in New Plymouth at St Joseph’s School and then New Plymouth Boys’ High School before moving to Wellington where he gained a university scholarship to attend Victoria College (1910-12). At Victoria, he studied Law, English, Latin and History.
After Victoria, Grey was on the WWI Reserves Roll (1916-17), received a Military call up in 1917 while living in Nelson, and after became a solicitor in New Plymouth in the firm Grey & Grey with George Grey, his father.
Rowan Gibbs informs me that he was married to Mary Louisa Russell (1906-1994) in 1930. The couple had no children.
The poet/lawyer Philip Grey was also a sportsman and after the war an amateur golfer who appeared in the 1927 National Golf Championship. In 1923, the New Zealand Golf Council gave him a handicap of 10.
Reviewer’s comments on Grey’s poems say that his verses ‘give pleasure’ (The Evening Post, 3 August 1920) and are ‘marked by keen appreciation of Nature’ (The Evening Post, 17 April 1924). Perhaps critics see him as a pastoral poet; both cricket and golf are pastoral games.
Five of his poems written at Victoria College (‘Eugenie’, ‘Victoria College’, ‘Summer Dreams’, ‘Winter’ and ‘L’Envoi’) are included signed Philip Grey in the 1920 edition of The Old Clay Patch and three in the 1949 edition of The Old Clay Patch but only two remain from the 1920 edition. ‘L’Envoi’, ‘Eugenie’ and ‘Summer Dreams’ are the poems by Grey omitted from the 1949 edition.
Seven of the eight original publications of Grey's writings 1911-13 (one piece of prose) in The Spike were under the pseudonym of Piri Kerei. This is a transliteration of Philip Grey in Maori.
I have not found any further book publications by Grey after Victoria; however, he has one more poem in The Spike. Rowan Gibbs found it: 'Changed Skies', written in New York (1922) and online in The Spike 1923.
Grey’s ‘Victoria College’ is also in quotation in the editorial to The Spike (1920), next reappears in the 1934 issue of The Spike and is in quotation in the notes to Chapter Six of Rachel Barrowman’s Victoria University of Wellington 1899-1999: A History (VUP, 1999).
About his law career: In 1950 Grey & Grey amalgamated with Hughes Hughes & Clark forming Hughes Grey & Ross, later becoming Hughes Grey & Co.; and that firm was absorbed by N H Moss Greiner Till & Co. After various amalgamations and splits, it became Dennis King Law, one of the oldest firms in Taranaki that can trace its roots back to 1870.
Grey died in 1976. He is in the New Plymouth City Council cemeteries database (cremation). He was 85 years old and noted in the cemetery record as a ‘solicitor’.
I was unable to find an Obituary for him in NZ Biographies at the National Library of New Zealand.
Here is Grey’s cricket-related poem:



When November’s toil is over, and life is all aquiver
With the joy of hope and labour overpast,
We will wander where your heart would, by the lakeside, by the river,
And forget the toil of term-time o’er the cast.
We have known the joy of effort, we have toiled long nights together,
We have quested north and south at Eastertide.
There’s a whisper in your heart now: ’tis the call of bat and leather;
’Tis the lure of racing waters overside.

And although our ways be different, though our paths shall lie asunder
In the dawn of summer days that are to be;
Though you wade where waters murmur, though you dream where rollers thunder –
Follow back along the trails of memory,
Follow back until you find us; we’ll be waiting there to meet you
By the halls and by the playing fields you knew,
Though you wander, don’t forget us; we’ll be waiting there to greet you
In the light of laughing days that live anew.

Poem © Philip Grey 1913, 1920

(From Spike 1913 [Victoria College magazine]; and The Old Clay Patch: A Collection of Verses Written in and Around Victoria University College, 2nd edition 1920)

(Sources: Papers Past [National Library of NZ digital archive]; The Spike [1923,1937, NZ Electronic Text Centre online]; email from Rowan Gibbs; Dennis King Law website; Births, Deaths and Marriages website; New Plymouth City Council cemeteries database; and [genealogy database site])

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