01 October 2013

Damned Appreciation

So, if you write, you might on occasion want some notice of this work.  Well, let's slot this little tidbit into the category of "be careful what you wish for."  Once again we are indebted to The Modernist Journals Project for their endlessly fascinating archives.  Thank you Brown University and University of Tulsa!
City Point, Vinalhaven1937–1938,

The Little Review, in 1919, published an essay by Marsden Hartley (a painter and sometime poet, living much of his life in Maine, but a somewhat tenuous member of the Kreymborg-Williams gang in Greenwich--WCW mentions his book of essays, Adventures in the Arts, in Spring and All) in appreciation of his friend, the poet Wallace Gould (and movie-house pianist), whom Hartley calls "The Poet of Maine."  

At the end of the essay, the editor (and founder) of the journal, Margaret Anderson, appends this:

[I print this article as a good example of what passes for criticism in America.  Mr. Hartley has simply made up words about Wallace Gould.  Almost nothing that Gould has written justifies any of Mr. Hartley's praise.  Wallace Gould is a writer who has not yet learned to write....]

There's a bit more that mitigates this judgment re: Gould, but it is ridiculously rude in terms of Hartley!  Although, one might grant it a just assessment of Hartley's essay, this seems an intentionally cruel act intentionally done in public.  And then, and then, and then...she prints three of Gould's poems!

Here's one of the poems she printed, part of a series apparently--#30.
I should have struck you between the eyes,
peroxide trollop with the voice of a man --
Irish queen with the head of a tomcat,
I should have made you sprawl in the gutter.
Nevertheless, I salute you, as one salutes the great.
For you are a great and glorious queen.  Your wileness* is so
that to comprehend is to gaze at the sun.
Not pearls, but emeralds, are the tears you shed
over the man who tries to escape you
and whom all women should escape.
Your great voice bellows its ribald truths and hoarsely howls
      its bellicose lies.
Your mind is the source of massive inventions, lewd de-
      ductions, perverse conjectures, nauseating insinuations.
Your bosom is great.
Your hips are great.
Everything about you is great.
I should have struck you between the eyes,
to leave an hieroglyphic in the language that you love --
that you best understand.
if I had done this thing,
and you had sprawled in such a place
as that which England's virgin queen
once shunned as being unfit to tread,
you would have been more gracious than Elizabeth,
and I could have laughed at the man who spread his cloak.

*I don't know if this is a misprint or a misspelling...wiliness or vileness?

You can download or read online Gould's first book Children of the Sun (1917).


Margaret Anderson's The Little Review might be considered a leftward balance to Harriet Monroe's more conservative Chicago-based Poetry.  Though early on these two women seemed to have had a fierce "first to publish" rivalry.  

Of the The Little Review (again from the MJP):
During its first three years, The Little Review was largely an anarchist publication that battled on behalf of imagism and published such writers as Richard Aldington, Sherwood Anderson, Maxwell Bodenheim, Ben Hecht, and Amy Lowell. Under Pound's influence, the magazine experienced a fresh infusion of international experimentalism and added contributions by the likes of Djuna Barnes, T. S. Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, Mina Loy, Francis Picabia, Dorothy Richardson, May Sinclair, Gertrude Stein, W. C. Williams, and W. B. Yeats. But even among this talented field, The Little Review's most lasting (and boldest) achievement was its serialization of Joyce's Ulysses, in 23 installments, from 1918 to 1920—until the Society for the Suppression of Vice charged the magazine with obscenity and Anderson and Heap, losing the court trial, were forced to discontinue the novel amid the "Oxen of the Sun" episode.
Of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse (MJP):
In 1911, Harriet Monroe persuaded a hundred Chicagoans to pledge $50 a year, for five years, to support a poetry magazine. With that guarantee, she founded Poetry: A Magazine of Verse in 1912, and it is still going today. Its motto was a quotation from Walt Whitman that appeared on the back of almost every issue: "To have great poets there must be great audiences too." To that end Monroe not only published the best modern poetry she could find, but also used the pages of the magazine for debate and discussion about the forms and content of poetry proper for a modern age. She published poems by Ezra Pound, who became her foreign correspondent, and such other poets as Yeats, Eliot, Stevens, Williams, Frost, Sandburg, Masters, Robinson, Lowell, Flint, Aldington, H. D., and many others, introducing new poets to the world and helping to revive an art many people thought had no place in modern culture. As she put it herself, "Somewhere I have read a quaint old myth of a goblin who, blowing the fog out of his face, started a tempest which went careering around the world. Now and then I feel like that goblin. Is it possible that less than four years ago poetry was 'the Cinderella of the arts'? Already a great wind is blowing her ashes away, and on the horizon are rolling dust-clouds which may conceal a coach and four—or is it an automobile?" (Poetry 8:3 140). It may have been a jet. In any case, we are all in her debt for blowing away the fog around poetry in 1912.
One will simply note that in 1920 several poems by Gould appeared in Poetry.  Here's one, "Diversion," from a series "In Maine."

SOMETHING is happening, at last,
now that the snowflakes are falling.
Something is happening.
It has been too long that nothing has happened.
The poor old year has been a bore.        5
She has been unkempt.
She has worn a faded calico dress too ragged for repair.
She has murmured of doom.
She has crooned of former profusions
of silk brocades,        10
rare perfumes,
or lovely lusts.
I come to the forests.
Even now the forests are green and black,
but within them,        15
instead of the tawn of the spills,
there is the white of the snowflakes.
I come to the fields.
Even now the fields are tawny,
but across them there are streaks of white—        20
the white of the snowflakes on the frozen brooks.
I look at the skies.
Even now the skies are gray,
but the gray of the skies is enlivened with streaming white—
the white of the snowflakes.        25
The snowflakes are falling,
to circle,
or wander,
or dart,
or float,        30
all like children at play—
like desperate children
awaiting the sound of the school bell.
Something is happening, at last,
now that the snowflakes are falling.


  1. Ha! Indeed.

    One can almost imagine Gould...a poet, not a polemicist, not an essayist...wishing Hartley would have never opened his mouth.

    But as I think the poems are at the very least interesting, I think Anderson is more than likely "feeling" antagonistic towards a project of Hartley's--but who knows. Williams has a piece on Gould too somewhere...I'll look for it an post.

    Anyway, this is a good:

    She has worn a faded calico dress too ragged for repair.