25 February 2012

On The Way to California

Lord Dunsany, whose poem written aboard the Queen Mary apparently remains unpublished.

On this day in 1954:

From Our New York Staff

NEW YORK, February 25 -- Lord Dunsany, 75-year-old Irish poet, came to New York to-day to clear up the mysteries of modern poetry for Americans. He roared at reporters: "It's bunk. All bunk."

"Fear makes people read modern poetry," he snorted. "Fear of being called a low-brow, fear of being pushed out of cocktail parties if one admits he does not understand it.

"I deny utterly the message of a chaotic age must be chaotic. In a chaotic time people need a message other than chaotic from a poet."

Attacks 'master'

The 6ft. 4in. poet, Americans' favourite lord, then carried the attack to T. S. Eliot, acknowledged master of the moderns.

Eliot's "Confidential Clerk," the current enigma of Broadway, has been accused by critics of being both "too light" and "too deep."

"Listen to this," said Lord Dunsany indignantly, "'Garlic and sapphires in the mud obscure the bedded axle wheel.' That's Eliot.

T. S. Eliot aboard the Queen Mary

"Garlic and sapphires in the mud, indeed. Did you ever see any sapphires in the mud? Why can't they write their philosophy clearly?"

Lord Dunsay then read his own latest poem, "On the Way to California," written on board the Queen Mary.

"There," he bellowed happily, "no garlic, no sapphires in the mud."

Source: The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)

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