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Simon Watson Taylor: surrealist, pataphysician & cabin steward

The death in 2005 at the age of 82 of aged hippy and anarchist Simon Watson Taylor went almost unnoticed in the Arts pages and it was left to his friend and former house-mate George Melly to supply an obituary in the Independent in which he pointed out the major contributions of the writer and translator of Alfred Jarry to the Surrealist and Pataphysics movements in Europe during the fifties and sixties. On a personal level, Melly also alluded to his friend’s ‘acid humour ‘, his delight in confronting and dispatching the pretensions of the bourgeoisie, and a determination to remain free of encumbrances. At one point in his early life we are told that he took a job as an airline cabin steward in order to travel the world.Indeed, among all his friends who had some way embraced aspects of the bourgeois life- style, Melly claimed that Watson Taylor stood out as a man ‘truly free’.

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Auberon Herbert poet and voluntaryist

Found in Windfall and Waterfall (Williams & Norgate, London 1894) a volume of poetry by Auberon Herbert  - an advertisement for his journal The Free Life - the organ of Voluntaryism. Auberon Edward William Molyneux Herbert (Highclere, 18 June 1838 – 5 November 1906) was a writer,poet, theorist, philosopher, and 19th century individualist. A member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, Herbert was the son of the 3rd Earl of Carnarvon, brother of Henry Herbert, the 4th Earl, and father of the 9th Baron Lucas. He promoted a classical liberal philosophy and took the ideas of Herbert Spencer a stage further by advocating voluntary-funded government that uses force only in defence of individual liberty and private property. He is known as the originator of voluntaryism.

The poetry is competent and clean limbed, somewhat of its time but counter to the prevailing decadence of much 1890s verse. We are quoting the tract on voluntaryism and preceding it with a couple of poems. His ideas are still alive, especially in the libertarian fringes of American republican thinking...

THE UNKNOWN SHORE.
It falls on my ear, now faint, now strong,
The thunderous note of the distant roar,

The surf of the sea I have sailed so long - ,
As it beats at last on the unknown shore.

Oh ! how will it be, when the hour has come,-
Unlike all hours that went before, —

Will help be near, or in pain and fear,

Shall I win my way to the unknown shore ?


IN BORDERLAND.
For strange deep longings move us,
As betwixt the two we stand,

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