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The Cockroach Poet and the King of Bohemia

 

Thirty-eight poems have been added. See the What's New Page (http://theotherpages.org/poems/new.htmloems/new.html) for a detailed listing.

About 2/3 are by Don Marquis, who has been very under-represented in the collection. Most are from Dreams and Dust, but there are two pieces of light verse from Noah an' Jonah an' Cap'n John Smith . Marquis is best known for his later poems -- supposedly written by a cockroach named Archy that used his typewriter after-hours.

The remainder are poems by George Sterling - another California poet, and disciple of Ambrose Bierce. Two things to note about the relationship: First, Sterling wrote a rather mediocre, rambling, overly descriptive and dark poem called The Wine of Wizardry. It reminds me of really bad scenery and special effects from an old Voyages of Sinbad movie. Howver Bierce, loyal to his disciple, praised it as the greatest work of American Poetry, and stuck with his praise despite the incredulity of others. Within the first few lines of the poem there are hints that he was not exactly sober when he wrote it.

Secondly, Sterling wrote poems in praise of his mentor, "The Master". One in particular, To Ambrose Bierce is essentially cursing anyone who dare defame or sully Bierce's name or reputation .

MASTER, when worms have had their will of thee,
And thou art but a voice along the years—
A star in the companionship of spheres
That are Fame's firmament—may God decree
That song and song's hostilities shall be
A sword within my hands, a flame that sears
The liar's mouth that slanders thee, nor fears
The vengeances of Truth's supremacy!

O Fates that on the tomb of greatness dead
Permit the viper and the toad to bask,
Lend me your youngest lightnings, and impel
My spirit as a whirlwind to the task
To char the liar's tongue within his head—
Like ashes on the adamant of Hell!

The irony (if not downright humor) in this is that the vast majority of Bierce's verses essentially call other people just that - liars, cheats, posers and charlatans. Bierces wrote countless scathing pieces about his contemporaries. Of course, THEY may have deserved it.

Sterling was also refered to as the King of Bohemia - he was the organizer of an annual theater sojourn in the local woods - writing some of the plays as well as acting in them.

Sterling is sometimes refered to as the Poet Laureate of San Francisco. He hung around with a literary crowd including Bierce, Jack London, Mary Austin and the recently featured Nora May French.

Sadly, the Bohemian life was not so care free for many of this group. Nora May committed suicide (while in Sterling's house), as did Sterliing's wife at a later date. Sterling himself succumbed to depression, alcohol, and likely drug use. He committed suicide in 1926.

His better stuff, I think, are his shorter pieces, like The Gleaner - a simple but powerful piece. I can almost see his personified Memory, searching for the people he has lost.

The Gleaner

OF ALL WE love or long for, what can last?
The brief arbutus shines where shone the snow;
The panic winds o'er dying flowers blow;
Far in the quiet woodland dies the blast.
Soft on the forehead of the hill are cast
The fleeting splendors of the afterglow;
Where sang the brook the desert lichens grow.
Who runs, shall find the feet of Change are fast.

Yet in the solitude of all that died
A Shadow roams the somber fields, long known,
Where ashen gardens house the pilgrim sands,
And mournful stars behold at eventide
How wanders peaceless Memory alone,
Seeking in dust the vanished lips and hands.

George Sterling
oems/new.html) for a detailed listing.About 2/3 are by Don Marquis, who has been very under-represented in the collection. Most are from , but there are two pieces of light verse from . Marquis is best known for his later poems -- supposedly written by a cockroach named Archy that used his typewriter after-hours. The remainder are poems by George Sterling - another California poet, and disciple of Ambrose Bierce. Two things to note about the relationship: First, Sterling wrote a rather mediocre, rambling, overly descriptive and dark poem called . It reminds me of really bad scenery and special effects from an old movie. Howver Bierce, loyal to his disciple, praised it as the greatest work of American Poetry, and stuck with his praise despite the incredulity of others. Within the first few lines of the poem there are hints that he was not exactly sober when he wrote it. Secondly, Sterling wrote poems in praise of his mentor, "The Master". One in particular, is essentially cursing anyone who dare defame or sully Bierce's name or reputation . MASTER, when worms have had their will of thee, And thou art but a voice along the years— A star in the companionship of spheres That are Fame's firmament—may God decree That song and song's hostilities shall be A sword within my hands, a flame that sears The liar's mouth that slanders thee, nor fears The vengeances of Truth's supremacy! O Fates that on the tomb of greatness dead Permit the viper and the toad to bask, Lend me your youngest lightnings, and impel My spirit as a whirlwind to the task To char the liar's tongue within his head— Like ashes on the adamant of Hell! The irony (if not downright humor) in this is that the vast majority of Bierce's verses essentially call other people just that - liars, cheats, posers and charlatans. Bierces wrote countless scathing pieces about his contemporaries. Of course, THEY may have deserved it.Sterling was also refered to as the King of Bohemia - he was the organizer of an annual theater sojourn in the local woods - writing some of the plays as well as acting in them. Sterling is sometimes refered to as the Poet Laureate of San Francisco. He hung around with a literary crowd including Bierce, Jack London, Mary Austin and the recently featured Nora May French. Sadly, the Bohemian life was not so care free for many of this group. Nora May committed suicide (while in Sterling's house), as did Sterliing's wife at a later date. Sterling himself succumbed to depression, alcohol, and likely drug use. He committed suicide in 1926.His better stuff, I think, are his shorter pieces, like The Gleaner - a simple but powerful piece. I can almost see his personified Memory, searching for the people he has lost.OF ALL WE love or long for, what can last? The brief arbutus shines where shone the snow; The panic winds o'er dying flowers blow; Far in the quiet woodland dies the blast. Soft on the forehead of the hill are cast The fleeting splendors of the afterglow; Where sang the brook the desert lichens grow. Who runs, shall find the feet of Change are fast. Yet in the solitude of all that died A Shadow roams the somber fields, long known, Where ashen gardens house the pilgrim sands, And mournful stars behold at eventide How wanders peaceless Memory alone, Seeking in dust the vanished lips and hands. George Sterling


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