2.19.2006

thanks to the LA Public library, I'll be starting my scanning project again; I will not be keeping such a narrow focus on female early modernists, tho -- some of the things I discovered yeterday -- well, the light of modernism just hasn't hit these sleepy little sonnets (mostly) and common meter ditties. also, who knew damon runyon wrote poems.

One of the poets I was most looking forward to was Carolyn Wells (married name, which she didn't publish under, Houghton), since one sees everywhere that she writes "nonsense verse" -- holy cow! I thought -- this is a find, paper worthy, etc. etc. Nah, it is just gently humourous verse -- not even genuinely funny like (poets writing later) Parker and ADM.

But a writer -- short stories as well as the poetry, editing, and children's books -- and also

The Library's most outstanding nineteenth-century collection is formed around the great American poet Walt Whitman. In 1942 a bequest from Carolyn Wells Houghton brought us copies of every publication Houghton cited in her A Concise Bibliography of the Works of Walt Whitman, among them approximately 100 copies of Leaves of Grass, including both issues of the 1855 first edition. The division added to this collection through the purchase of the Charles Feinberg gathering of Whitman materials, including first editions of most of Whitman's writings as well as works about Whitman. The Feinberg Collection of Whitman's manuscripts, housed in the Library's Manuscript Division, is the most extensive in existence. The combination of the printed works and manuscripts gives the Library of Congress the finest Whitman collection in the world.

http://www.loc.gov/rr/rarebook/guide/amerlit.html

There's always the chance, of course, that the nonsense I seek is in:

The Jingle Book
The Story of Betty
At the Sign of the Sphinx

Idle Idylls was published in 1900, and re-published as Baulbles in 1912 -- I had been searching for Baubles, as, as a 1912 book of poems called "baubles" and billed as nonsense verse it had a chance of being, well, nonsense verse.

poems disappearing from the 1900 collection in 1912 are:

Tit for Tat (spoken by a bookworm, with the ending couplet, "This book has bored its readers, / now I will bore the book.")
An Artistic Evening (an evening described with each aspect named by an artist -- beginning with the cliche "Turner sunset" but going on to Wordsworth, Tennyson, Rosa Bonheur, Vereshchagin, Ruskin, Burne-Jones, Millet, Bouguereau, Corot -- thus, "pretty" pictures, pre-raphaelites mixed with pre-impressionists)
A Secret Woe (begins speaking to a framed picture of a gibson girl on the wall, see below)
A Patient Lover
Fate
My Choice
the Lastest Fate
The Poster Girl's Defence
A Ballade of Revolt
The Whist Player's Soliloquy
The Vampire of the Hour
Nothing to Read
Unkind Fate
The Trailing Skirt
The Ballad of the Ad
Aubrey Beardsley's Pictures
An Explanation
Auf Wiedersehen
The Tragedy of a Theatre Hat

and added are

that the beginning italic poem be included in the toc

Sighted (a valentine's poem)
the moss in the wood
The lure of the unknown
Impressions of Chicago
ifs for Cubists
Fame
The Glorious West
A Recollection
Country in Summer
The Ill Wind
A Tantalus Number
On Meeting an Old Friend
Transcendence
Personal Impressions of Texas
How to Tell the Wild Animals
A Christmas Petition
An Illusion
Baby's Laugh
Trifles
My Favorite Author
With Trumpets Also and Shawms
An Overworked Elocutionist
The Order of the Literati

all in all, poems yanked were replaced with new; the new end, The Order of the Literati, is a "story" with quotes, a sort of report from a fake salon.


The dedications of the books I've found bear some attention -- as I'm reading them cumulatively, for example, that Wells has dedicated to Oliver Herford "Guide, Philosopher and Friend" rather than a relative. Herford was quite a quipster, the one who defined manuscript as something submitted in haste and returned at leisure. "The American Oscar Wilde" they say. He did illustrations for the first edition (and for many of his own books).

It is perhaps interesting to note that Herford wrote a humourous version of the Rubaiyat, which was at a peak of popularity at this time -- as did another poet I will be discussing shortly.

In any case, Carolyn Wells and Idle Idylls. The nonsense still may be out there, as she edited a 1903 anthology of nonsense verse, intro reprinted on the Lear site:

http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/essays/wells_1.html

and blackmask has done a .pdf of this anthology:

http://www.blackmask.com/thatway/books132c/7nons.pdf

Harriet R. White

Anonymous is heavily represented

Catharine M. Fanshawe
Jean Ingelow "a woman of impeccable manners" "mild mannered and humble... never took on a superior air"

the parody, as far as "nonsense VERSE" goes, is the evil twin of the "imitation", and the "imitation" seems to give rise to all sorts of formalist hogwash about finding your own voice and letting your subjects find you

Under the influence of Herford, Wells revised many homely sayings into slightly more clever ones, ie "of two evils choose the prettier" and stayed solid with the parody.

She, like many female writers to this day, also wrote children's books. Some of these are at Gutenberg (not the "real" short stories -- )

http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/w#a1060

The book opens with "The Spelling Lesson," I think promisingly (having used a similar quote from the clap song Engine No. 9 to open my Masters Thesis):

When Venus said: "Spell 'no' for me,"
"N-O," Dan Cupid wrote with gless,
and smiled at his success;
"Ah, child," said Venus, laughing low,
"We women do not spell it so,
we spell it Y-E-S."

problem being Dan? Cupid -- Dan, who knew, is not one of "we women" -- so the book opens in this peculiar moment when mother-teacher Venus focusses ruefully on the generder differences not of language, but of language use, all because a meter required filling out.

In "A Warning," Time speaks to a young girl in a summery shirtwaist, and again, the tone is not light and funny, not gather ye rosebuds, but the brief "power" of the appeal of female youth is reduced to "play."

And finally, this collection is an odd assortment of milkmaid and poster girl (a la Gibson girls) poems, which I'll be investigating further, as I love the "girl poem," and the "girl song," have been devoted to them for years, and have a collection (unpublished) of them myself.

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