Horace, Maurice and Doris by C.J. Dennis

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Horace is a highbrow; he owns to this himself;
   He shrinks from notoriety; he will not paint for pelf.
For Horace is an Artist. who lives for art alone --
   High Art, nouveau Art and technique all his own:
He seeks intellectuals who think and think and think,
   Upheld by Russian cigarettes and alcoholic ink,
And patronise Praxetiles, and scorn the paint and pose
   Of Mister Michelangelo, with fingers to the nose.

But Horace paints a picture, when his inspiration comes,
   Of cubes and cones and cart-wheels and dislocated thumbs,
And seven isolated eyes, a complex and a prawn;
   All cleanly meant to represent The Tragedy of Dawn.
Or something slightly similar, but Horace knows, he knows,
   AND, whatever you may think of it, 'tis not what you suppose.
Then he paints a dozen like it, and hangs 'em upside down,
   And holds an exhibition in a quiet part of town.

Half a dozen dilettanti and a girl with soulful eyes,
   They toddle to the private view and register surprise,
And gasp in admiration of this Art without a flaw,
   "My Gahd! But what a tragedy if he should learn to draw!"
   Alas for poor Valasquez and those poor old moronic must;
They'd nothing of his nuances nor half hid glorious guts.
   Then Horace packs his paintings up, and so they fade away
In charge of two crude, beery blokes in one prosaic dray.

Hail! Hail to Horace! he is justified on earth,
   For his urge is self-expression, and fulfilment came with birth.
For Horace paints for Horace in an individual way,
   And if Horace pleases Horace, well what more have you to say?


Maurice is a Modern, and he reproduces Life
   In his ultra-neo-dramas of sublime sub-conscious strife;
For the inspiration seized him on the day that her awoke
   To the psycho-something soul-storms that go on inside a bloke.
For Maurice is a Dramatist -- but, ah! not for the stage;
   For crude commercial caterers wake in him a rage;
And triflers of the Ibsen type call down his cold contempt,
   But he took and wrote an Epic at the very first attempt.

It is not at all like Shakespeare, and far ahead of Shaw --
   For one is just a carpenter, and one naively raw --
But it utters things intensely to a comprehending mind,
   Like Maurice's, if, mayhap, there's another of the kind.
But common coves like you and I, of course, can't understand,
   For Maurice writes of Hidden Things unknown on sea or land.
Old Schiller never thought of them, Goethe nor Sophocles.
   How could they have the Modern Mind who lived in those far days?

Half a dozen dilettanti and a girl with gushing ways,
   They sit up straight upon their spines and sample Maurie's plays.
Gozzi's thirty-six dramatic situations earn his scorn;
   For they went right out of fashion on the day that he was born;
He invented fifty new ones in an hour's intensive thought;
   But, no, you cannot buy them, for his brains cannot be bought.

"Hail! Hail to Maurice!" all the dilettanti shout,
   And the gushing girl gets giddy, so they have to take her out.
You and I will never, never hear his dramas. Have no fears;
   But just you watch prosperity in seven hundred years!

3. - DORIS

Doris is a decadent. She's rather proud of that;
   But she's up among the ultras, and she won't put on a hat.
Who hear her speak exclaim "Unique!" She wears a sloppy smock,
   An Eton crop and sandals, and she drinks chartreuse and hock,
Mixed, just like her metaphors, but Doris doesn't care;
   She yearns for self-expression, and you ought to hear her swear.
She potters round with poetry; oh, not the sloppy stuff
   That Mr. Keats or Coleridge wrote; that isn't tough enough.

Free thought! Free love! Free, free verse!
   Dear Doris "wants to be herself," and doesn't care a curse.
Why should she waste long, weary hours to study most intense
   To learn that "cat" will rhyme with "bat," or gain a metric sense?
Mere rhyme and rhythm giver her pains, and Shelley's turgid mud,
   Or the mawkishness of Masefield, makes the little dear spit blood.
What she wants is Life, Love, Psychic Stuff and Strength,
   So she writes a lot of Splendid Things in lines of varied length.

Half a dozen dilettanti and a youth with varnished hair,
   They listen to her read her "works" with quite a cultured air.
Tho' rhythm rules the universe, she's cast it from her life
   And renders Art in candid terms of syncopated strife.
The publishers won't print her stuff to bring her lasting fame,
   And why? It's plain. Because the craven huxters are not game!
But all the dilettante rave, and one and all declare
   She'll swamp her Ego if she weds the youth with varnished hair.

Hail! Hail to Doris! But youth is fleeting, dear,
   And you'll probably be passee if you wait another year.
But in case I failed to mention it, a verse or so ago,
   It was Doris, vital Doris, who discovered sex, you know.

Oh, Horace, Maurice, Doris, when they're well beneath the sod,
   Their kind will bend the knee to what queer futuristic god?
But the world will go on laughing, as the old world ever laughed
   At those who yearn to ply the art and scorn to learn the craft.

First published in Stead's Review, 1 February 1930

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 1, 2013 8:12 AM.

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