T. E. Lawrence, 1888-1935, Anglo-Irish; in the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, published 1922.
His own government with other ‘Great Powers’ of the day threw out promises he had made to his Arab allies and carved up the Middle East, former Ottoman lands, to their own benefit.
After an effort on his part of astonishing daring, strategy, tactics, acculturation, imagination, risk and love.
After 20 years in the army, in 1935, T. E. Lawrence joined the Airforce. For 14 years and at his request he worked in the most menial jobs.
Then he went to live, a recluse, in his cottage of 700 square feet in Dorset, England. A library and quiet.
And that after 14 years of menial service – at his request – in the British Airforce.
A man whose paeans to life in the desert are superb, lived in a tiny house in Dorset.
He was living there when he died, two months later, in a fatal motorcycle crash in 1935.
Winston Churchill’s eulogy of T. E. Lawrence:
“I deem him one of the greatest beings alive in our time. I do not see his like elsewhere. I fear whatever our need we shall never see his like again.”
Krak des Chevaliers, built between 1140 and 1170. One of the Crusader castles in Syria which T.E. Lawrence studied on a 1000 mile tour alone in 1909 while at Jesus College, Oxford.
Severely damaged in the current war in Syria
Written in 1926 for one of his companions in the Arab Campaign whom he loved and who died.
Edited and slightly changed by Robert Graves (1895-1985, British).
I loved you, so I drew these tides of
Men into my hands
And wrote my will across the
Sky and stars
To earn you freedom, the seven
Pillared worthy house,
That your eyes might be
Shining for me
When we came
Death seemed my servant on the
Road, ’til we were near
And saw you waiting:
When you smiled and in sorrowful
Envy he outran me
And took you apart:
Into his quietness
Love, the way-weary, groped to your body,
Our brief wage
Ours for the moment
Before Earth’s soft hand explored your shape
And the blind
Worms grew fat upon
Men prayed me that I set our work,
The inviolate house,
As a memory of you
But for fit monument I shattered it,
Unfinished: and now
The little things creep out to patch
In the marred shadow
Of your gift.
Col. Thomas Edward Lawrence, oil on canvas, 1919. Augustus John, 1878-1961, British. Location unknown