I have lived it, and lived it,
My nervous, luxury civilisation,
My sugar-loving nerves have battered me to pieces.
... Their idea of literature is hopeless.
Make them drink their own poetry!
Let them eat their gross novel, full of mud.
It’s quiet; just the fresh, chilly weather ... and he
Gets up from his dead bedroom, and comes in here
And digs himself into the sofa.
He stays there up to two hours in the hole – and talks
– Straight into the large subjects, he faces up to everything
It’s ...... damnably depressing.
(That great lavatory coat...the cigarillo burning
In the little dish... And when he calls out: ‘Ha!’
Madness! – you no longer possess your own furniture.)
On my bad days (and I’m being broken
At this very moment) I speak of my ambitions ... and he
Becomes intensely gloomy, with the look of something jugged,
Morose, sour, mouldering away, with lockjaw ....
I grow coarser; and more modern (I, who am driven mad
By my ideas; who go nowhere;
Who dare not leave my frontdoor, lest an idea ...)
All right. I admit everything, everything!
Oh yes, the opera (Ah, but the cinema)
He particularly enjoys it, enjoys it horribly, when someone’s ill
At the last minute; and they specially fly in
A new, gigantic, Dutch soprano. He wants to help her
With her arias. Old goat! Blasphemer!
He wants to help her with her arias!
No, I ... go to the cinema,
I particularly like it when the fog is thick, the street
Is like a hole in an old coat, and the light is brown as laudanum.
... the fogs! the fogs! The cinemas
Where the criminal shadow-literature flickers over our faces,
The screen is spread out like a thundercloud – that bangs
And splashes you with acid...or lies derelict, with lighted
waters in it,
And in the silence, drips and crackles – taciturn, luxurious.
... The drugged and battered Philistines
Are all around you in the auditorium ...
And he ... is somewhere else, in his dead bedroom clothes,
He wants to make me think his thoughts
And they will be enormous, dull – (just the sort
To keep away from).
... when I see that cigarillo, when I see it ... smoking
And he wants to face the international situation ...
Lunatic rages! Blackness! Suffocation!
– All this sitting about in cafés to calm down
Simply wears me out. And their idea of literature!
The idiotic cut of the stanzas; the novels, full up, gross.
I have lived it, and I know too much.
My café-nerves are breaking me
With black, exhausting information.
by Rosemary Tonks
For more information about poet, Rosemary Tonks, see: