Thursday, March 26, 2009

Literary rejection and its discontents

Some poets, on hearing what editors think of their work, become dejected; some blog furious missives; some move on to big things (I was going to say greatness, but the term is discredited).

In 1916, Ezra Pound submitted Lustra to Elkin Mathews for possible publication. Below are some of the comments on poems in the ms. by Mathews' unknown reader:

Sorry stuff to begin with

An impudent piece

[On "A Pact"] Poor Walt Whitman. Let's hope he will survive it.

Silly nonsense

[On "Further Instructions"] Better keep his baser passions to himself. No one else wants them

[On "The New Cake of Soap"] Personal not funny

[On "Salvationists"] "We shall get ourselves rather disliked" (This is quite true)

[On "The Temperaments:] Beastly

[On "Phyllidula" or maybe "The Patterns"] What words of wisdom!

[On "The Seeing Eye"] Smelly like its subject

[On "Coitus"] Coitus What a simile!

Papyrus. How truly beautiful!

Foolish Zuutians would be better title

[On "Ancient Music"] Pitiful Parody of beautiful verse

The only poems worth reading are the translations

Pact! (save the mask!) is the only redeeming feature of most of the others, which with a few exceptions are more fitted for the Waste Paper Basket than the literary public

Addendum: When the book was eventually published, the printer refused to set some of the poems.

1 comment:

the unreliable narrator said...

My favourite by far is the boldface Beastly. Though I have never read Lustra (unless poems are in the selected Pound?), so for all I know these pithy judgments might very well be true....