Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A sample of poetic discourse around Jewishness from 1912:


The impudence of his artistic swank
More fragrant somehow do I find than rank,
Who paints upon his subtly purple banner,
“1 am the Oxford plus the Yiddish manner.”


Exalted cheekbones and a prattling smile,
A touch of mischief and a childish guile,
With teeth that twinkle and with lips that please-
In short, a Bayswaterian Viennese.


So overwhelming breathed her powder’s reek,
So loud her dresses and her hats would shriek,
That you would entertain a false impression
And murmur an ineffable expression,
Until you realise your wish is vain
By looking at her visage chastely plain.

These are nos. 4, 5 and 6 (though they're not numbered as such in the text) of 8 "Epigrams" by "H.S.B." (no idea who that is) in The New Age 11.22 (26 Sept. 1912): 516. I found them when I was trolling for Pound material; they follow immediately on section IV of EP's serial essay "Patria Mia."

"Bayswaterian Viennese" seems very Eliot somehow.

Alan Golding


Norman Finkelstein said...

Thanks, Alan. These are pretty remarkable little historical documents. If I read them right, the poet seems to saying something to the effect of gee, I rather like them (or at least find them interesting or entertaining) even if they are Jews. Or maybe because they're Jews. And yes, that phrase does sound like Eliot. Anyone out there want to venture a guess as to the poet's identity?

Mark Scroggins said...

I guess we need an annotator like Christopher Ricks to show us how TSE, if he'd read these -- tho the evidence suggests he didn't -- might have transmuted "Bayswaterian Viennese" into the brilliant & far nastier "Chicago semite Viennese" of "Burbank...Bleistein."

A quick look thru Wallace Martin's The New Age under Orage gives no clues to author's identity.