Friday, November 10, 2006

More Don Marquis poetry -- for the OCC student

In honor of the charming and delightful young geeeeeniuses at Orange Coast College who boldly spoke out against American oppression, I have found another Don Marquis poem (not from archy and mehitabel, but nonetheless worthy of posting) for the day. I hope he accepts it in the spirit intended.


Isn't it odd how some of the most radical and
advanced and virile of the leaders in the New
Art and the New Thought don't look it at all?

There's Fothergil Finch, for instance. Nobody
could be more virile than Fothy is in his Soul.
Fothy's Inner Ego, if you get what I mean, is a
Giant in Revolt all the time.

And yet to look at Fothy you wouldn't think he
was a Modern Cave Man. Not that he looks like
a weakling, you know. Butwell, if you get what
I mean -- you'd think Fothy might write about
violets instead of thunderbolts.

Dear Papa is ENTIRELY mistaken about him.

Only yesterday dear papa said to me, "Hermione,
if you don't keep that damned little vers libre run
away from here I'll put him to work, and he'll die
of it."

But you couldn't expect Papa to appreciate Fothy.
Papa is SO reactionary and conservative.

And Fothy's life is one long, grim, desperate
struggle against Conventionality, and Social
Injustice, and Smugness, and the Established Order, and
Complacence. He is forever being a martyr to the
New and True in Art and Life.

Last night he read me his latest poem -- one of his
greatest, he says -- in which he tries to tell just what
his Real Self is. It goes:

Look at me!
Behold, I am founding a New Movement!
Observe me. . . . I am in Revolt!
I revolt!
Now persecute me, persecute me, damn you,
persecute me, curse you, persecute me!
Respectabilities that you are,
Persecute me!
You ask me, do you, what am I in revolt against?
Against you, fool, dolt, idiot, against you, against
Against Heavy, Hell and punctuation . . . against
Life, Death, rhyme and rhythm . . .
Persecute me, now, persecute me, curse you,
persecute me!
Slave that you are . . . what do Marriage,
Tooth-brushes, Nail-files, the Decalogue,
Handkerchiefs, Newton's Law of Gravity, Capital,
Barbers, Property, Publishers, Courts, Rhyming
Dictionaries, Clothes, Dollars, mean to Me?

I am a Giant, I am a Titan, I am a Hercules of
Liberty, I am Prometheus, I am the Jess Willard
of the New Cerebral Pugilism, I am the Mod-
ern Cave Man, I am the Comrade of the Cosmic
Urge, I have kicked off the Boots of Superstition,
and I run wild along the Milky Way
without ingrowing toenails,
I am I!
Curse you, what are You?
You are only You!
Nothing more!
Bah! . . . persecute me, now persecute me!

Fothy always gets excited and trembles and
chokes when he reads his own poetry, and while
he was reading it Papa came into the room and
disgraced himself by asking if there was
any MONEY in that kind of poetry, and Fothy
was so agitated that he fairly screamed when he

"Money . . . money . . . curse money! Money
is one of the things I am in revolt against. . . .

Money is death and damnation to the free spirit!"

Papa said he was sorry to hear that; he said one
of his companies needed an ad writer, and he didn't
have any objection to hiring a free spirit with a
punch, but he couldn't consider getting anyone to
write ads that hated money, for there was a salary
attached to the job.

And Fothy said: "You are trying to bribe me!
Capitalism is casting its net over me! You are trying
to make me a serf: trying to silence a Free
Voice! But I will resist! I will not be enslaved!
I will not write ads. I will not have a job.

And then Papa said he was glad to hear Fothy's
sentiments. He had been afraid, he said, that Fothy
had matrimonial designs about me. And the
man who married HIS daughter would probably have
to stand for possessing a good deal of wealth, too,
for he had always intended doing something very
handsome for his son-in-law. So if Fothy didn't
want money, he wouldn't want me, for an enormous
amount of it would go to me.

Papa, you know, thinks he can be awfully sarcastic.

So many Earth Persons pride themselves on their
sarcasm, don't you think?

And Papa is an Earth Person entirely. I've got
his horoscope. He isn't AT ALL spiritual.

But you can image that the whole scene was
FRIGHTFULLY embarrassing to me -- I will NEVER forgive Papa!

And I haven't made up my mind AT ALL about
Fothy. But what I do know is this: once I get my
mind made up, I WILL NOT stand for opposition form
ANY source.

One must be an Individualist, or perish!

from Hermione's Little Group of Serious Thinkers, by Don Marquis, 1916

my copy is mutilated, but I tracked down the book, and it's available for free reading via the Gutenberg Project.

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