Djuna Barnes' reputation as a central figure in American modernist literary circles has risen dramatically in recent years. A special issue of The Review of Contemporary Fiction was devoted to her work in ; Virago has published collections of short stories and interviews the latter memorably titled I Could Never be Lonely Without a Husband : Faber continues to publish Nightwood , her best-known work, famously lauded by T. Eliot when it was first issued in and now Fyfield has collected together for the first time into one slim volume just about all the poems she wrote and published. As a writer of fiction and poetry, interviewer, minor artist five of her drawings, crossing Beardsley with Tove Jansson, are included here; her painting of Cordelia Coker Pearson in riding clothes provides the book's cover and major controversial figure she was a child abuse victim and long-term alcoholic, dying in at the absurd age of 90 , Barnes more than holds her own in the literary pantheon, and yet, as critics like Bonnie Kime Scott have argued, her work resists attempts to categorise it easily alongside such modernist luminaries as Hemingway, Woolf or Eliot. Barnes is much closer to Mina Loy, herself a marginal modernist maverick.
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For though one took you, hurled you Out of space, With your legs half strangled In your lace, You'd lip the world to madness On your face. We'd see your body in the grass With cool pale eyes. We'd strain to touch those lang'rous Length of thighs, And hear your short sharp modern Babylonic cries.
It wouldn't go. We'd feel you Coil in fear Leaning across the fertile Fields to leer As you urged some bitter secret Through the ear. We see your arms grow humid In the heat; We see your damp chemise lie Pulsing in the beat Of the over-hearts left oozing At your feet.
See you sagging down with bulging Hair to sip, The dappled damp from some vague Under lip, Your soft saliva, loosed With orgy, drip. Once we'd not have called this Woman you— When leaning above your mother's Spleen you drew Your mouth across her breast as Trick musicians do. Plunging grandly out to fall Upon your face. Naked—female—baby In grimace, With your belly bulging stately Into space.
W HAT altar cloth, what rag of worth Unpriced? What turn of card, what trick of game Undiced? And you we valued still a little More than Christ. Ah God! S O she stands—nude—stretching dully Two amber combs loll through her hair A vague molested carpet pitches Down the dusty length of stair.
The frail mosaic on her window Facing starkly toward the street Is scribbled there by tipsy sparrows— Etched there with their rocking feet. Still her clothing is less risky Than her body in its prime, They are chain-stitched and so is she Chain-stitched to her soul for time.
Ravelling grandly into vice Dropping crooked into rhyme. Though her lips are vague as fancy In her youth— They bloom vivid and repulsive As the truth. W HAT loin-cloth, what rag of wrong Unpriced? What turn of body, what of lust Undiced? So we've worshipped you a little More than Christ. With satiated fingers dragging At your palms. Your knees set far apart like Heavy spheres; With discs upon your eyes like Husks of tears, And great ghastly loops of gold Snared in your ears.
Your dying hair hand-beaten 'Round your head. Lips, long lengthened by wise words Unsaid. And in your living all grimaces Of the dead. One sees you sitting in the sun Asleep; With the sweeter gifts you had And didn't keep, One grieves that the altars of Your vice lie deep. You, the twilight powder of A fire-wet dawn; You, the massive mother of Illicit spawn; While the others shrink in virtue You have borne. We'll see you staring in the sun A few more years, With discs upon your eyes like Husks of tears; And great ghastly loops of gold Snared in your ears.
Her body shock-abbreviated As a city cat. She lay out listlessly like some small mug Of beer gone flat. Seen From the "L" S O she stands—nude—stretching dully Two amber combs loll through her hair A vague molested carpet pitches Down the dusty length of stair.
BRUNO CHAP BOOKS
For though one took you, hurled you Out of space, With your legs half strangled In your lace, You'd lip the world to madness On your face. We'd see your body in the grass With cool pale eyes. We'd strain to touch those lang'rous Length of thighs, And hear your short sharp modern Babylonic cries. It wouldn't go.
The Book of Repulsive Women
Originally published in the chap book series by Bruno of Greenwich Village in , this renowned volume of poetry presented portraits of women of the period -a mother, prostitute, cabaret dancer, and others-which were wildly radical in their day dominated as it was by Victorian mores. But there is still in these "rhythms" a seething beat of sexuality and vice, whipped up. But there is still in these "rhythms" a seething beat of sexuality and vice, whipped up into a delicious sense of perversity by Barnes's art. On the evidence of Barnes's numerous other works, most of which included art that was interleaved with her writing, Messerli has restored the drawings-which in the Bruno edition appeared in the back, after the poem's-to the front of the book so that they can create an interplay with the texts. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read.
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