Art of the Forgotten: Doris M. Palmer
This is not a biography. This is not a history. The internet has failed me in my search for anything about her. Not even a single image of her work can be found on the web . . . Until now.
I first discovered Doris M. Palmer before the age of ten when my father brought home her book. He found it at a thrift store and fell in love with the art. That was over twenty years ago and has stayed in my possession ever since.
The book my father brought home was The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, quite a famous and amazing work of poetry, but this one was special. This version had the beautiful and elegant illustrations of Doris M. Palmer.
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám illustrated by Doris M. Palmer was published in 1925 Great Britain by Leopold B. Hill and printed by Riverside Press Limited in Edinburgh. To my knowledge this is the only work produced by this wonderful and forgotten artist.
Her illustrations are in an Art Deco style and represent quatrains from The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, which I have included below its corresponding image (please note that I have the archaic spelling from the original text).
I hope you enjoy.
How long, how long, in infinite pursuit
Of this and that endeavour and dispute?
Better to be merry with the fruitful grape
Than sadden after none, or bitter, fruit.
And, as the cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted— “Open then the door!
You know how little while we have to stay,
And, once departed, may return no more.”
And look— a thousand blossoms with the day
Woke— and a thousand scatter’d into clay:
And this first summer month that brings the rose
Shall take Famshyd and Kaikobad away.
Look to the rose that blows about us—” Lo,
Laughing,” she says, “into the world blow.
At once the silken tassel of my purse
Tear, and its treasure on the golden throw.”
Think, in this batter’d Caravanserai
Whose doorways are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultan after Sultan with his pomp
Abode his hour or two, and went his way.
Ah, my beloved, fill the cup that clears
To-day of past regrets and future fears:
To-morrow! — Why, to-morrow I may be
Myself with yesterday’s sev’n thousand years.
Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same door as in I went.
Then to the rolling Heav’n itself I cried,
Asking, “What lamp had destiny to guide
Her little children stumbling in the dark?”
And— “A blind understanding!” Heav’n replied.
Then to this earthen bowl did I adjourn
My lip the secret well of life to learn:
And lip to lip it murmur’d— “While you live
Drink! — for, once dead, you never shall return.”
You know, my friends, how long since in my house
For a new marriage I did make Carouse:
Divorced old barren reason from my bed,
And took the daughter of the vine to spouse.
Listen again, one evening at the close
of Ramazan, ere the better moon arose,
In that old potter’s shop I stood alone
With the clay population round in rows.