Encoded documents and images are derived from manuscripts in the Papers of Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven in Special Collections at the University of Maryland, College Park, Libraries. In addition, individual pages or leaves of manuscripts are identified by the corresponding reel and frame numbers of the microfilm edition of the Freytag-Lorinhoven Papers.
Published by Tanya Clement.Office of Digital Collections and Research (DCR), University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742
Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven's poetry is printed here with the support of the University of Maryland Libraries. Permission to reproduce images of Freytag-Loringhoven's manuscripts has also been generously granted by the libraries.
This poem and manuscript drafts are available from this site for demonstration purposes only. Though the intellectual property of Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven is in the public domain, all annotations and editorial commentary are copyrighted. They may not be reproduced without explicit permission from the copyright holder. For copyright information, please contact Tanya Clement.
DTD constructed from TEI P5 poetry base with tagsets for parallel segmentation, linking, figures, analysis, transcr, textcrit.
Line breaks have not been preserved in prose sections in order to facilitate parallel segmentation procedures.
Though unpublished during her lifetime, "A Dozen Cocktails—Please" was published in Sulfur 6 (1983) as one poem in a set of eleven poems for which editor Eliot Weinberger wrote in the introduction, "with Barnes' death at 90 this year, the Baroness' work will finally see print" (150). For copyright reasons, this additional version of the poem is not included here.
This poem is playful, making ribald reference to condoms as "dandy celluloid tubes . . . tinted diabolically as a baboon's hind-complexion" and "the vibrator-- -- -- /Coy flappertoy!" She also includes a section with a thinly-veiled praise for her heterosexuality:
She plays with the reader as she plays with herself: sexual freedom makes sex an arena of play and self-empowerment. The play here on "deeply shocked" both indicates an offense of social conscience and, especially coupled with the next line "but you fill the hiatus," a sexual penetration. She used the attention generated by this "obscene" language to make pointed social commentaries. In "A Dozen Cocktails—Please," for example, she criticizes what she perceives as American social inferiorities by criticizing its bathroom habits. At a phase in her career when she argues for European artistic and aristocratic superiority, she denigrates the "uppity" Americans who, while socially barbarous, have advanced and expensive bathroom amenities:
Liberty is restrictive, however; it demands a level of censorship to which the Baroness (in the words of Pound's Cantos) was "non-acquiescent." It is her non-acquiescence, her inclination to be too obscene, too critical, which left her without a readership at The Little Review. Especially as a woman, the Baroness's sense of freedom of expression, which makes her work valuable posthumously helped to situate her on the fringe in her time.
One technique that demanded an active audience was "optophonetic" poetry, which provided a written form for the very popular "sound poetry" that Dadaists Tzar, Huelsenbeck, Janco and others performed at the Cabaret Voltaire. In his desire to abstract language, Dadaist Raol Haussman created notations that used typographic variations to signal certain sound effects, essentially designing a system much like musical notation. Kurt Schwitters followed behind, creating what he called Merz or a multi-genre, multi-media poem that incorporated optophonetics with pictures, nails, and even sentences, often cut from the newspaper or a pamphlet. The Baroness, who was much enraged by Schwitters' rising popularity with The Little Review during the years of her decline from their favor, incorporates optophonetics in her own work, more in the Schwitters fashion. In her manuscripts, there is evidence that she experimented with using optophonetics as one element among many that render meaning in a poem. In "A Dozen Cocktails Please," she writes: "Serpentine aircurrents -- -- --/Hhhhhphssssssss! The very word penetrates." The word, with its low-slung "p" in the middle and its swerving queue of "s" evokes the penetrating snake that it mimics.