I bring the nascent virginity of
--Myself for the moment" ~ Mina Loy
Well, I am completely in love with Mina Loy. I am not sure what to do. She took my heart. (Well, OK, I still have some difficulty with her work -- lover's quarrels is all). Yet, like many good heart-thefts, I am not entirely certain what did it. Really, it is an emotive, even spiritual component to some of her work -- particularly in "Songs to Joannes" -- that gets me. And, it is the emotional and the spiritual in poetic work that resists "intellecualizing." But, nonetheless, for posterity's sake, I'll attempt a bit of intellectual mish-mosh.
What I found in much of her work was something that resonates with a deep part of me. I have felt this with a few writers -- in some way they manage to write (even abstractly) a feeing that I know deeply and a feeling that is pertinent to humanity. In section XIII of "Songs" Loy writes:
"Let us be very jealous
Or we might make an end of the jostling of aspirations..." (14-18)
"Don't let me understand you Don't realise me
Or we might tumble together
Into the terrific Nirvana
Me you -- you -- me" (25-30)
Here, she is writing about a relationship with a lover, seeing how jealously, suspicion, coldness/cruelty are obstructions in relationships -- if two people have "aspirations" but are constantly throwing up blocks (the blocks of jealousy etc), it jostles the free movement towards what one aspires to do or have. Furthermore, she speaks to this simultaneous desire and fear that most humans seem to have: the desire and fear of really knowing another and of being known. She seems to see this fear of knowing and being known (manifested in her sarcastic "Don't let me understand you...") as an obstruction to some deeper (spiritual) truth. If he would allow himself to be seen and if she were realized, then perhaps they might "tumble together... Into... Nirvana," a state (to Hindus and Buddhists) of pure/ideal bliss. For me, this passage is incredibly poignant as this not only speaks to a condition that exists between men and women, but something visible in all of humanity. Most of us, I believe, wish to really know ourselves, wish to be loved by others, but at the same time, we fear sharing ourselves, and we fear ridicule. Yet, in our fear, we resist that which we desire most deeply -- to be loved and to love. OK, I'm going off the philosophical, psychological deep end here... but that's where I like to go! And, that's where Loy takes me... into a place of feeling and self-exploration...
Alright then -- a few more things about Loy:
She was a bold writer too. For a woman living within the late 19th Century/early 20th century to write about sexuality and sexual equality so freely was revolutionary. "Songs to Joannes" are about a sexual relationship and are fraught with emotion and longing (as is evident in the above passages). Yet, three daring (for her time) lines that I enjoy most are at the end of XXVI:
"We sidle up
-- -- -- that irate pornographist" (3-5)
Here, it is not the philosophical, spiritual, etc that draws me, but rather her dry tone. I am not necessarily in agreement with the notion of Nature being an "irate pornographist," but, boy, that's an awesome way to put it. And, it shows that despite all her emotion, she resists sentimentality.
Finally, I want to comment on these lines from III:
"We might have given birth to a butterfly
With the daily-news
Printed in blood on its wings" (6-8)
Oh, dear. Maybe I shouldn't. They are so beautiful; commentary might mar them. Well. This is "emo" Loy again. Here, again, there is longing -- "We might have given birth..." There is unfulfilled potential. But that potential has its darkness too, perhaps. When I read these lines, I feel that longing, but I am also overcome by the delicacy of a butterfly in contrast with the intellectualism of the news, compounded by the daily spilled blood that the news so often heralds. There is a lot packed in those three lines, and a lot crammed on the delicate wings of that hypothetical butterfly. Um. Anyway. Loy. I love her.