Thursday, June 3, 2010

"O Hell"

Good morning! Here it is, the first Thursday of the month, & as such, time for a featured poem by this month’s featured poet—who is Mina Loy.

“Wait a moment,” you say, “this is like déjà vu all over again. Wasn’t Mina Loy last month’s featured poet?” Of course you’d be absolutely right. However, I’ve decided that two poems by a featured poet just isn’t enough. On the other hand, I like only having two featured poems per month because it frees up space for unscheduled posts. The solution? Each featured poet will have a two-month run, so those of you who enjoyed Loy’s poems last month (& in her earlier appearances on Robert Frost’s Banjo) will have two more to enjoy in June. Once again, I’d encourage anyone interested in Loy’s work—& to my mind she is one of the truly great 20th century poets—to look into The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems of Mina Loy, edited by Roger Conover. Loy’s poems were out-of-print for years, & we are very fortunate that this lamentable situation has been rectified.

“O Hell” was first published in William Carlos Williams’ journal Contact in 1920. Loy could be a very sensual poet—in fact, some of her work, including the great poetic sequence Love Songs to Johannes, was considered shockingly graphic in its day. This short but intense poem gives some suggestion of Loy’s focus on the corporeal.

Enjoy! & be sure to come back tomorrow for the kick-off of Homegrown Radio!

O Hell

To clear the drifts of spring
Of our forebears’ excrements
And bury the subconscious archives
Under unaffected flowers


Our person is a covered entrance to infinity
Choked with the tatters of tradition

Goddesses and Young Gods
Caress the sanctity of Adolescence
In the shaft of the sun

Mina Loy

The image is a drawing by Loy titled “Consider Your Grandmother’s Stays”


  1. You're right. Two by Loy just isn't enough.

    "Choked with the tatters of tradition" is such a powerful line. (love the image, too)

  2. I am adoring this woman. Thank you again introducing us. I think I'll have her join me for coffee this morning.

  3. Hi Willow, T & Nana Jo

    Willow: Thanks! You might be interested to know that Loy later changed this line to "Choked with the dusts of tradition"--Conover in his edition restored the original version.

    T: Glad you like Mina Loy!

    Nana Jo: Now that should be delightful indeed!

  4. I come across all kinds of good stuff on your blog. It got me thinking the other day about how "lazy" my education in literature had been: poets were held up as icons (Eliot for example), excluding the need to study the work of others. I wish it had been more about poems than poets.

  5. Hi Dominic: "I wish it had been more about poems than poets." Couldn't say it better myself. But it's gratifying to me that folks are finding this here & on other sites--for instance, you've blogged about Harry Partch, who isn't well-known at all.


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