09 March 2011

Lunar Baedeker: Mina Loy










"A silver Lucifer
serves
cocaine in cornucopia

To some somnambulists
of adolescent thighs
draped
in satirical draperies

Peris in livery
prepare
Lethe
for posthumous parvenues

Delirious Avenues
lit
with the chandelier souls

of infusoria
from Pharoah's tombstones

lead
to mercurial doomsdays
Odious oasis
in furrowed phosphorous---

the eye-white sky-light
white-light district
of lunar lusts

---Stellectric signs
"Wing shows on Starway"
"Zodiac carrousel"

Cyclones of ecstatic dust
and ashes whirl
crusaders
from hallucinatory citadels
of shattered glass
into evacuate craters

A flock of dreams
browse on Necropolis

From the shores
of oval oceans
in the oxidized Orient

Onyx-eyed Odalisques
and ornithologists
observe
the flight
of Eros obsolete

And "Immortality"
mildews...
in the museums of the moon

"Nocturnal cyclops"
"Crystal concubine"
-------
Pocked with personification
the fossil virgin of the skies
waxes and wanes----"

 - from Lunar Baedeker  by Mina Loy, Contact Editions, Paris: 1923.

No excerpt, not even the whole poem, could ever encompass the loopy wonderousness (the wonderous loopiness ?) that is Lunar Baedeker, much less the life story of its creator Mina Loy (1882-1966).  Like Anabasis by St. John Persse, it can be an epic of whatever you imagine.
To read the complete poem go here.  For more about Loy go here.

Images:
1. Edvard Munch - Summer Night, 1907, National Gallery, Berlin.
2. Odilon Redon - The Sleeper , undated, Louvre Museum, Paris.

3 comments:

The Gossamer Tearoom said...

Beautiful and hallucinogenic.


Betty

Jane said...

G.T., Loy had some experience with mind-altering substances. Her biography is anything but boring.

Andy Mcewan said...

Jane,
I bought "The Lunar Baedeker" some years ago on the strength of the blurb on the back cover (it was an edition by Carcanet Press, Manchester, UK). To say I was not disappointed would be a massive understatement. I'd never heard of Mina Loy until then but I had to learn more. Subsequently, I read Carolyn Burke's "Becoming Modern: the Life of Mina Loy." As is often the case, your post has directed me back to my bookshelves and I shall renew my acquaintance with the amazing Mina Loy. Roger L. Conover, who selected and edited the Carcanet edition of " The Lunar Baedeker" says in his Introduction, "I believe there are certain guidebooks we should take with us as we navigate our way toward the next (21st)century, and that Mina Loy's is one of them...she might yet prove to be the poet of her century." Praise indeed, extravagant maybe, but Loy should certainly be better known and more widely read.