Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bee Palmer's Shoulders

Bee Palmer

I had to post this because it amused me so much.  

Nick Caraway, the narrator of The Great Gatsby, and Jim Burden, the narrator of My Antonia, were very earnest young men. They each came from the midwest of America, each went to college, worked in New York, each  witnessed and described a story that helped define the American spirit. Each ended their book sounding pretty depressed.

 I think it's fun to see that other similar young men used their college educations to write humorous poetry.

On First Looking into Bee
Palmer's Shoulders
["The World's Most Famous Shoulders"]
MUCH have I travell'd in the realms of
And many goodly arms and shoulders seen
Quiver and quake—if you know what I mean;
I've seen a lot, as everybody has.
Some plaudits got, while others got the razz.
But when I saw Bee Palmer, shimmy queen,
I shook—in sympathy—my troubled bean,
And said, "This is the utter razmataz."

Then felt I like some patient with a pain
When a new surgeon swims into his ken,
Or like stout Brodie, when, with reeling brain, 
He jumped into the river. There and then
 I subwayed up and took the morning train 
To Norwalk, Naugatuck, and Darien.

"BEE" PALMER has taken the raw, human—all too human—stuff of the underworld, with its sighs of sadness and regret, its mad merriment, its swift blaze of passion, its turbulent dances, its outlaw music, its songs of the social bandit, and made a new art product of the theatre. She is to the sources of jazz and the blues what Francois Villon was to the wild life of Paris. Both have found exquisite blossoms of art in the sector of life most removed from the concert room and the boudoir, and their harvest has the vigour, the resolute life, the stimulating quality, the indelible impress of daredevil, care-free, do-as-you-please lives of the picturesque men and women who defy convention.—From Keith's Press Agent.

(Franklin Pierce Adams, Something Else Again, New York; Doubleday, Page, 1920.)

If you don't remember your English Romantic Poets, here is the text of Keats's poem for comparison.

On First Looking into Chapman's Homer

Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific — and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise —
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

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