G. C. M.





Literatur: G. C. M.
Literatur: The Masses
Literatur: Shelley-Rezeption


HE was not the sort of man you would think would like poetry. His name was T. Sidney Booth, and he dealt avariciously in real estate, loans, rentals and insurance. By inheritance and by marriage he had acquired wealth; by his own acumen he had doubled his acquisitions. His trade sagacity and financial standing were unquestioned.

Grace and ease of manner, a studiously unobtrusive elegance in dress, and a very few articles of quaint, individual jewelry, indicated his prosperity, social position, and the possession of some artistic taste. Fine lines around a weak mouth, and a slight pastiness of skin whispered of long-continued but carefully hidden excesses. But his passion for poetry was a deeper secret.

In fact, T. Sidney Booth was poetry's devotee. He worshipped at its shrine with a fervor all the more fanatical because it was the one positive beauty amidst the debasing restrictions of his life. It was a delectable drug to quiet the racking revolts of his instinctively clean body against the sordid ugliness of physical necessity.

His necessity was women. It is true, he specialized in them, exercising a nice discrimination, and employing caution and business judgment. In this way he protected his health, and safeguarded the serenity of his home and the sanctity of his bank account. It is only in youth that sin can be spontaneous and untrammeled. At forty-six, a consistent sinner must needs have perfected a system and acquired a finesse

It was his finesse that attracted Doris. She was eighteen, a stenographer in a conveniently adjacent office. She combined health and unsophistication with a generous predilection for amorous adventure. Her mental background was a melange of Jean Ingelow and "The Duchess," a result of the warring influences of a poetry-loving, whiskey-drinking father and a sentimental, hysterical mother. Her moral code was an injudicious mixture of sexual ignorance, barbaric tendencies transmitted through a long line of highly immoral ancestors, and a diligent, conscientious, personal application of "The Chaperon's" advice in the Kansas City Star every Monday.

They met with mutual attraction. He flashed across her enraptured senses all the allure the middle-aged cultured, artistic philanderer has for the youthful female. She was healthy, good looking and full blooded and therefore desirable to him.

In due time they came to the consideration of a place to go. His prominence made it unwise to choose any of the respectably improper places; her ignorance made it possible to select a wholly disreputable one. They went to the Johnson House, down by the depot.

A well chosen dinner and several bottles of wine awaited them. The discreet waiter departed. Booth locked the door and helped the frightened girl remove her wraps. He took off his own coat and hat and threw them onto the rickety, white iron bed. As the coat fell across the foot rail a small, worn book slipped from the pocket to the dirty carpet. The girl, to cover her embarrassment, stooped and picked it up. It was a volume of Shelley's poems

He snatched the book from her jealously, as a pious monk would rescue the precious shin bone of a saint from the defiling touch of the unbeliever. But his hand, even in that brief contact, noted, with the precision of a diagnostician, the cold trembling of hers. He looked her over critically, still holding the book in his hand.

She was too new at the game to be hurried. Young girls sometimes do desperate things when they are frightened. Her attention must be diverted and she must be given time to calm herself. Poetry was the best sedative he knew. Hoping to allay her nervousness and thus to come more gently and efficaciously to the business of the evening, he therefore sat down casually on the edge of the bed.

"Do you know Shelley?" he asked her.

"No, sir," she responded shyly.

"Would you like to hear some of his short poems?"

"Oh yes, sir, very much, Mr. Booth."

He opened the book at random. As he glanced at the page a smile came to his sensitive mouth. "Just listen to this," he said, and began to read slowly, in the low-pitched, reverential tone of the true disciple:

"I arise from dreams of thee . . . ."

He finished this and several others of the shorter poems, now and then glancing quickly at the girl. Toward the end he began to read somewhat breathlessly, his voice growing thick and his words seeming to come automatically. Then he closed the book softly and with face flushed reached again for her hand. He drew her into his arms and felt her still trembling. Shelley had dropped from his nerveless grasp face upwards on the bed. The leaves fluttered and he saw "Love's Philosophy." He recognized it as good propaganda. Holding the girl still pressed closely against him, he read in a stifled, pulsating voice:

"The fountain mingles with the river
 And the river with the ocean;
 The winds of heaven mix forever
 With a sweet emotion;
 Nothing in the world is single,
 All things, by a law divine,
 In one spirit meet and mingle –
 Why not I with thine?"

He continued reading, the words meaningless to him, until his racing heart choked him. With a low exclamation he turned convulsively to her. She was leaning against him calmly, her eyes bright, her very soul bare to the revelation of a new and wonderful beauty. There was not a trace of physical emotion in her face. She had forgotten everything but Shelley.

"Go on, Mr. Booth," she whispered. "It's pretty, isn't it?"

Her impersonal attitude was like a shower bath. Somewhat confused and considerably cooled, he turned to Shelley again as to a refuge. Soon he was passing familiarly from one poem to the next, reading them as a lover scans the delicious confidences of her whom his being adores. Slowly his wet hands became dry, his breathing more controlled, his parched gray lips moistened and reddened, the strained clasp of his arm loosened.

An hour passed. Booth turned a page abstractedly and began a new theme. It was the "Ode to a Skylark":

"Hail to thee, blithe spirit!
 Bird thou never wert,
 That from Heaven, or near it,
 Pourest thy full heart
 In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
 "Higher still and higher
 From the earth thou springest
 Like a cloud of fire;
 The deep blue thou wingest
 And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest!"

He stopped suddenly and shut the book. The girl, freed by his movement, stood clear of his embrace. He looked around him as one newly awakened – at the sickly gas lights sputtering in the fly-specked fixtures, at the stained and faded carpet, at the cheap lace curtains, ragged with age, at the dirty bed, foul and polluted with unspeakable associations, at the cold, uninviting dinner, at the deliberate cockroach which pursued its matter-of-fact way across the table. A profound nausea seized him.

"God! let's go home!" said T. Sidney Booth.





Erstdruck und Druckvorlage

The Masses.
Bd. 8, 1916, Nr. 9, Juli, S. 23.

Gezeichnet: G. C. M.

Die Textwiedergabe erfolgt nach dem ersten Druck (Editionsrichtlinien).

The Masses   online
URL: https://dlib.nyu.edu/themasses/
URL: https://modjourn.org/journal/masses/
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000061643
URL: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/masses/index.htm







Literatur: G. C. M.

Barcus, James E. (Hrsg.): Percy Bysshe Shelley. The Critical Heritage. London u.a. 1995.

Brandmeyer, Rudolf: Poetiken der Lyrik: Von der Normpoetik zur Autorenpoetik. In: Handbuch Lyrik. Theorie, Analyse, Geschichte. Hrsg. von Dieter Lamping. 2. Aufl. Stuttgart 2016, S. 2-15.

Newcomb, John T.: How Did Poetry Survive? The Making of Modern American Verse. Urbana, Ill. u.a. 2012.

O'Neill, Michael / Howe, Anthony (Hrsg.): The Oxford Handbook of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Oxford 2013.

Schmid, Susanne: Shelley's German Afterlives 1814 – 2000. New York u.a. 2007.

Schmid, Susanne / Rossington, Michael (Hrsg.): The Reception of P. B. Shelley in Europe. London u.a. 2008.



Literatur: The Masses

Watts, Theodore F.: The Masses Index, 1911-1917. East Hampton, Mass. 2000 (Radical Magazines of the Twentieth Century Series).
URL: https://dlib.nyu.edu/themasses/the_masses_index.pdf

Herbst, Susan: Politics at the Margin. Historical Studies of Public Expression Outside the Mainstream. Cambridge 1994.

Jones, Margaret C.: Heretics and Hellraisers. Women Contributors to The Masses, 1911-1917. Austin, Tex. 1993.

Maik, Thomas A.: The Masses Magazine (1911-1917). Odyssey of an Era. New York 1994.

Morrisson, Mark S.: The Public Face of Modernism. Little Magazines, Audiences, and Reception, 1905-1920. Madison, Wis. u.a. 2001.
Kap 5: Pluralism and Counterpublic Spheres: Race, Radicalism, and the Masses (S. 167-202).

O'Neill, William L. (Hrsg.): Echoes of Revolt: The Masses, 1911-1917. Chicago 1966.

Schreiber, Rachel: Gender and Activism in a Little Magazine. The Modern Figures of the Masses. London u. New York 2016.

Tadié, Benoît: The Masses Speak: The Masses (1911-17); The Liberator (1918-24); New Masses (1926-48); and Masses & Mainstream (1948-63). In: The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines. Hrsg. von Peter Brooker u.a. Bd. 2: North America 1894-1960. Oxford 2012, S. 831-856.

Wetzsteon, Ross: Republic of Dreams. Greenwich Village, the American Bohemia, 1910 - 1960. New York 2003.

Zurier, Rebecca: Art for the Masses. A Radical Magazine and Its Graphics, 1911-1917. Philadelphia 1988.



Literatur: Shelley-Rezeption

Barcus, James E. (Hrsg.): Percy Bysshe Shelley. The Critical Heritage. London u.a. 1995.

Boyiopoulos, Kostas / Sandy, Mark (Hrsg.): Decadent Romanticism, 1780-1914. London u. New York 2019.

Conning, Carl-Ludwig: 'A poet, however, whom we fear that few Swedes know about': Hellen Lindgren's 1892 Essay on Percy Bysshe Shelley. In: Nordic Romanticism. Translation, Transmission, Transformation. Hrsg. von Cian Duffy u. Robert W. Rix. Cham 2022, S. 263-292.

Daniela, Cerimonia: Leopardi and Shelley. Discovery, Translation and Reception. Oxford 2015.

Eisner, Eric: Nineteenth-Century Poetry and Literary Celebrity. Basingstoke u.a. 2009.

Miranda, Omar F. / Singer, Kate (Hrsg.): Percy Shelley for Our Times. Cambridge u. New York 2024.

Mole, Tom: What the Victorians Made of Romanticism. Material Artifacts, Cultural Practices, and Reception History. Princeton, NJ 2017.

O'Neill, Michael: Shelleyan Reimaginings and Influence. Oxford 2023.

Schmid, Susanne: Shelley's German Afterlives 1814 – 2000. New York u.a. 2007.

Schmid, Susanne / Rossington, Michael (Hrsg.): The Reception of P. B. Shelley in Europe. London u.a. 2008.

Shih, Terence H. W.: The Romantic Skylark in Taiwanese Literature: Shelleyan Religious Scepticism in Xu Zhimo and Yang Mu. In: British Romanticism in Asia. The Reception, Translation, and Transformation of Romantic Literature in India and East Asia. Hrsg. von Alex Watson u. Laurence Williams. Singapore 2019, S. 319-339.

Wheatley, Kim: Shelley and His Readers. Beyond Paranoid Politics. Columbia u.a. 1999.





Lyriktheorie » R. Brandmeyer