On another thread, someone recalled reading these lines in the novel REUBEN REUBEN by Peter DeVries:
Let's spread a picnic on the precipice,
Eat, drink and be merry with our backs
to the abyss
... and wondered what the rest of the poem was.
I now have a copy of the novel beside me. I haven't found those lines in it (still looking). There are quite a few verse passages, but so far the ones I've found are all attributed to a character in the book (a Scottish poet named McGland) so are presumably by DeVries himself. Here's one:
The minute I find something's done in flashback
I want to rush rought and and demand my cashback.
This novel does contain the line (in dialogue): "Block that metaphor!" And the book was (c) 1956, so the expression may have originated there.
The "picnic on the precipice" is not an epigraph either (I checked). The epigraphical position is occupied by a children's song called REUBEN AND RACHEL (words and music!), which is where the book title comes from. It's a little boy and a girl playing at flirting.
While I have the book here, can I look up anything else for youse?
Is it bad form to be the first respondent to your own posting?
I just did that ONE MORE SEARCH and this turned up:
Come, let us spread a picnic on the precipice,
eat, drink and be merry with our backs to the abyss,
Carve pipes from hollowed bones till innate dusk,
when Bats cannot be told from the Swallows.
Gifts from threats will banish solemn songs like this,
where in the half moon rolls traditions and vows,
who wrecks the hospitable ease and rules of Love.
London. March 4th 2002.
I suppose you're wondering why the author's name isn't given. Well, it's not on that web page! But here's the home page it's attached to:
"By Behzad Bayati (Konrad Van Orton)"
"A collection of works composed mostly over the past 2 years. Inspired by places, faces, and mostly by time. "
(Quote marks added by me since the attribution is controversial.)
Very strange. I am officially WITHOUT AN OPINION about the authorship, date, and text of this poem. Anybody wanna weigh in?
Strange, but probably a case of conscious or unconscious plagiarism.
I distinctly recall some lines not identical but with a more than possibly coincidental resemblance to those 'Picnic' lines were spoken in the 1983 film version of 'Reuben, Reuben' by the poet character, played by Tom Conti. The credited screenwriter and co-producer was Julius J. Epstein. He must have added them if they weren't in the book.
My copy of the book is still mislaid. Thanks for looking it up.
If I comment on women's forms I get hollered at
The current (May 24, 2004) issue of THE NEW YORKER contains a long piece about Peter DeVries.
It doesn't illuminate the picnic poem, but it mentions a funny line from REUBEN, REUBEN. Swinburne's poetry, says the main character Gowan McGland, "always reminds me of the work of some young punk who has just read Swinburne."
This gives me the courage to admit that John Donne's poetry always reminds ME of some old fart who has just read Donne.
I'm with you when it comes to Donne. And while we're on the subject, as much as I like Oscar Wilde, his poetry sometimes reminds me of some wise-ass who just read Wilde.
Most interesting.....I've always felt this way about Hemingway !
you guys are the tops !
Clarification...not Hemingways books...his poems
Johnny, I thought you were JOKING about "Hemingway's poems," but by gosh he really did write some!
There are a dozen of them here:
The one called "Blank Verse" reminds me of something an eMuler would write.
Indeed he did....do you see what I mean? I had been reading Hemingway for a number of years before i found out about them.
To paraphrase Tom Stoppard: "Having found them, how do you go about losing them again?"
To paraphrase Tom Stoppard: "Having found them, how do you go
about losing them again?"
Post Edited (05-26-04 17:32)
Okay. I've screwed up. Disregard................
How do you think Hemingway would do if he entered one of those Hemingway pastiche contests? [tinyurl.com] />
He'd probably finish second to some graduate student from Ohio, with a minor in Literature.
I agree.......It's akin to when a celebrity does a guest voice on an animated show, and it doesn't really sound enough like the person....someone doing an imitation sounds sooo much better.
"It looked dead. It wasn't"
Ernest Hemingway's Frank Stein
Someday I shall tell you my Margeaux Hemingway story.
But today is not that day