A Dozen Cocktails Please

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X Bibliographic Information

A Dozen Cocktails Please

by Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

Original Source

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.

Witness List

  • First: Reel 3, Frames 760 and 761
  • Second: Reel 3, Frames 762, 763, and 764
  • Third: Reel 3, Frames 765 and 766

Textual Notes

Drafts of this poem occupy series 3, box 1, folder 57 and Reel 3, Frame numbers 760 to 766. The poem was written between 1923 and 1927.

Electronic Edition Information:

Responsibility Statement:
  • Text Encoding by Tanya Clement
  • Proofing and Additional Encoding by Tanya Clement
  • TIFF images scanned at 600 dpi from manuscript pages and JPEGS derived byTanya Clement
Publication Details:

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.

Encoding Principles

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.

X Critical Introduction

Critical Introduction

Though unpublished during her lifetime, "A Dozen Cocktails—Please" was published in Sulfur 6 (1983) as one poem in a set of eleven poems for which editor Eliot Weinberger wrote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:

 
. . . I don't hanker after Billyboys-- but I am entitled
 
To be deeply shocked.
 
So are we-- but you fill the hiatus.
 
Dear-- I ain't queer-- I need it straight -- --
 
A dozen cocktails-- please-- -- -- --

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:

 
What's the dread
 
Matter with the up-to-date-American-
 
Home-comforts? Bum insufficient for the
 
Should-be wellgroomed upsy!

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.

XWitness
A DOZEN COCKTAILS -PLEASE .
NO SPINSTER LOLLYPOPP FOR ME - "YES - WE HAVE
NO BANANAS"c
A reference to Frank Silver and Irving Cohn's Tin Pan Alley jazz smash of 1923, "Yes! We Have No Bananas"; for more disucssion of the use of this song both in "A Dozen Cocktails" an in other modernist literature, see Ryan Jerving's article "Jazz Language and Ethnic Novelty." Modernism/modernity (2003): 239-268.
I GOT LUSTING PALATE - I ALWAYS
ALWAYS EAT THEM - - - - --
THEYTEY
Alternate spelling: THEY
HAVE DANDY CELLULOID TUBES - ALL SIZES -
DITINTED DIABOLICALLY LIKE AS A BAMBOON'S
Alternate spelling: BABOON'S
HIND COMPLEXION .
A MAN'S A - - -
PIFFLE! WILL 0' TH' WHISP! WHAT IS 'S THE DREAD
DREAD MATTER WITH THE UP - TO - DATE - AMERICAN-
AMERICAN HOME - COMFORTS'? BUM INSUFFICIENT FOR THE
FOR THE SHOULD - BE WELL GROOMED UPSY. !
THERE'S THE VIBRATOR - - -
COY FLAPPERTOY! . I'AMM ADULT CITIZEN WITH
VOTE -. I DEMAND FULL MY UNSTINTED SHARE IN ROOF EDEN
IN ROOF EDEN - WITCH SABBATH OF OUR BABYLONIAN OBELISK.
WHAT'S THE RADIO FOR - IF YOU PLEASE?.
"EVE'S DART PRICKS SNOOKUMS UPON WIREFENCE"
"AN APPLE A DAY - - -"
IT'LL COME -
HA!WHEN? . ! I AM 'M NO TONGUE SWALLOWING YOGIYOGIYOGI
PROGRESS IS RAVISHING. -
IT DOES'NT ME! ME-
NUDGE IT -
PUSH KICK IT -
PRODD IT-
KICK PUSH IT -
BROADCAST - - - -
THAT'S THE LIGHTNING IDEA!
S.O.S NATIONAL SHORTAGE OF - - -
WHAT?
HOW ARE WE GOING TO PUT IT BEFITTING WITHOUT
BEFITTING LIFTED UPSY'S?
PSH! ANY SISSY POET HAS SUFFICIENT FREEZING
CHEMICALS IN HIS FREUDIAN PSYCHOANALYTIC FREUDIAN ICECHEST TO DAMPEN SNUFF ALL
SNUFF ALL COCKYNESS. WE'LL HIRE ONE.
HELL! NOT THAT! THAT'S THE TROUBLE! - -
COCKCROW - CROW SILLY..
OH - OH FINE!
HANGTHEY 'RE IN FRANCE -AFRICA THE AIR - THE AIR ON THE LINE -THE
LINE - THE POLES - - - - - - -
HAVE THEM SEND WAVES - LIKE CANDY - VALENTINES -
VALENTINES - - - - - - - -
"SAY IT WITH"- - -
BOLTS. !
OH THUNDER!
SERPENTINE AIR CURRENTS - - - -
HHHHHHHHHPHSSSSSSSSSSSS! THE VERY WORD PENETRATES!
I FEEL WHOOZY!.
I LIKE THAT. I AINT DONT HANKERING AFTER BILLY
TRUANTBILLY BOYS - BUT I AM ENTITLED TO BE
TO BE DEEPLY SHOCKED.
SO ARE WE - . BUT YOU FILL THE HIATUS.
DEAR - I AINT QUEER - I NEED IT STRAIGHT - -
-A DOZEN COCKTAILS - PLEASE!- - - -
E.V.F.L ELSE
BARONESS
V.
FREYTAG-
LORINGHOVEN
XWitness
A DOZEN COCKTAILS -PLEASE .
NO SPINSTER LOLLYPOPP FOR ME - "YES - WE HAVE
NO BANANAS"c
A reference to Frank Silver and Irving Cohn's Tin Pan Alley jazz smash of 1923, "Yes! We Have No Bananas"; for more disucssion of the use of this song both in "A Dozen Cocktails" an in other modernist literature, see Ryan Jerving's article "Jazz Language and Ethnic Novelty." Modernism/modernity (2003): 239-268.
I GOT LUSTING PALATE - I ALWAYS
ALWAYS EAT THEM - - - - --
THEYTEY
Alternate spelling: THEY
HAVE DANDY CELLULOID TUBES - ALL SIZES -
DITINTED DIABOLICALLY LIKE AS A BAMBOON'S
Alternate spelling: BABOON'S
HIND COMPLEXION .
A MAN'S A - - -
PIFFLE! WILL 0' TH' WHISP! WHAT IS 'S THE DREAD
DREAD MATTER WITH THE UP - TO - DATE - AMERICAN-
AMERICAN HOME - COMFORTS'? BUM INSUFFICIENT FOR THE
FOR THE SHOULD - BE WELL GROOMED UPSY. !
THERE'S THE VIBRATOR - - -
COY FLAPPERTOY! . I'AMM ADULT CITIZEN WITH
VOTE -. I DEMAND FULL MY UNSTINTED SHARE IN ROOF EDEN
IN ROOF EDEN - WITCH SABBATH OF OUR BABYLONIAN OBELISK.
WHAT'S THE RADIO FOR - IF YOU PLEASE?.
"EVE'S DART PRICKS SNOOKUMS UPON WIREFENCE"
"AN APPLE A DAY - - -"
IT'LL COME -
HA!WHEN? . ! I AM 'M NO TONGUE SWALLOWING YOGIYOGIYOGI
PROGRESS IS RAVISHING. -
IT DOES'NT ME! ME-
NUDGE IT -
PUSH KICK IT -
PRODD IT-
KICK PUSH IT -
BROADCAST - - - -
THAT'S THE LIGHTNING IDEA!
S.O.S NATIONAL SHORTAGE OF - - -
WHAT?
HOW ARE WE GOING TO PUT IT BEFITTING WITHOUT
BEFITTING LIFTED UPSY'S?
PSH! ANY SISSY POET HAS SUFFICIENT FREEZING
CHEMICALS IN HIS FREUDIAN PSYCHOANALYTIC FREUDIAN ICECHEST TO DAMPEN SNUFF ALL
SNUFF ALL COCKYNESS. WE'LL HIRE ONE.
HELL! NOT THAT! THAT'S THE TROUBLE! - -
COCKCROW - CROW SILLY..
OH - OH FINE!
HANGTHEY 'RE IN FRANCE -AFRICA THE AIR - THE AIR ON THE LINE -THE
LINE - THE POLES - - - - - - -
HAVE THEM SEND WAVES - LIKE CANDY - VALENTINES -
VALENTINES - - - - - - - -
"SAY IT WITH"- - -
BOLTS. !
OH THUNDER!
SERPENTINE AIR CURRENTS - - - -
HHHHHHHHHPHSSSSSSSSSSSS! THE VERY WORD PENETRATES!
I FEEL WHOOZY!.
I LIKE THAT. I AINT DONT HANKERING AFTER BILLY
TRUANTBILLY BOYS - BUT I AM ENTITLED TO BE
TO BE DEEPLY SHOCKED.
SO ARE WE - . BUT YOU FILL THE HIATUS.
DEAR - I AINT QUEER - I NEED IT STRAIGHT - -
-A DOZEN COCKTAILS - PLEASE!- - - -
E.V.F.L ELSE
BARONESS
V.
FREYTAG-
LORINGHOVEN

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