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Stella Gibbons parodies modernist poetry (1921)

Found in a  University of London College magazine from December 1921 this poem/ parody by the novelist Stella Gibbons. She was 19 at the time and had just begun a two-year Diploma in Journalism at UCL. The course had been established for ex-servicemen returning from the First World War, but attracted several women, including another future novelist - Elizabeth Bowen. After a spell as a caustic book reviewer at The Lady her first book (poetry) was published in 1930, and in 1932 her masterpiece Cold Comfort Farm appeared. This, too, was a parody (of the current 'loam and lovechild' school of rural novelists.) The writers parodied are mostly somewhat forgotten: Mary Webb, Sheila Kaye-Smith, Eden Philpotts - although D.H. Lawrence and Thomas Hardy did not escape her mirth. In this piece modernist poets (T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound?) are mocked..

The Marshes of My Soul
(With  apologies to the latest School of Decoratively- Melancholy Introspectives.)

I.
Brackish …brackish,
The Pools of Weariness, flung in a glimmering chain
Reach the horizon.
And my thoughts, like purple parrots
Brood
In the sick, light trees 
Blowing above those shallow pools
In whorls and whorls
Noiselessly 
Printing a monotonous pattern upon the heavy air
Like watery curves upon the silken robe of a dying Mandarin.

II.
I am a peg, pinning up
Nebulous shadows of half guessed moods
Along the clothesline of "Let's-be-Clever."
Sometimes (ah - rape of the Muse by the cold fingered--) 
Doubt takes me.
I wonder
If all these mists and moods and parrots mean 
Much?

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3 thoughts on “Stella Gibbons parodies modernist poetry (1921)

  1. R.M.Healey

    The journalism course was also taken by Patricia Rubinstein, later renowned for her up-market school stories under the pseudonym Antonia Forest.

    Reply

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