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.
Of the poems include in this edition, "Ancestry" remains the most directly autobiographical. The Baroness experienced a syphylitic outbreak while still in Germany in 1896 (see Irene Gammel's Baroness Elsa: Gender, Dada, and Everday Modernity pgs. 69-71) the soure of which she attributed to genetic inheritance. Though the poem rests blame squarely on the father, it also implies some culpability in the mother's desire for this "slick" man. The notion that her sicknesses and weaknesses —whether physical or pyschological— are inherited from her mother surfaces repeatedly in her letters to Djuna Barnes. In one undated letter, the Baroness claims, "MY MOTHER SINNED AGAINST ME—FOR HAVING MADE ME—HER HEIR —WICH [sic] WAS BRILLIANT — BUT INSUFFICIENT —PROVIDED WITH CIRCUMSPECTION. SOMEBODY HAS TO LOOK OUT FOR ME — ALWAYS — IN OUTER MANAGEMENT. I NEVER MANAGED AT —ALL—I KNEW I COULDN'T —I TRUSTED IN "GOD" — ALWAYS! AS MY MOTHER DID —" (UMD 2.263). In addition, the Baroness used this metaphor of inheritance to describe the affect that German sensibilities had on her artistic work, a discussion of which is included in the introduction to "Orgasmic Toast"
Much like the language used in "A Dozen Cocktails, Please," "Ancestry" uses coloquial and slang terms for describing sexual parts and actions. In part these words allow her to tap into the vulgarity and humor in her situation, which was somewhat common in the bohemian crowd in which she moved. A the same time, these popular and vulagar words and phrases represent the only language one would use to express these ideas in poetry that was meant to reach a broad audience. In another undated letter to Barnes, the Baroness describes wanting to "curse" as a result of her frustration in attempting to work on a poem of hers in which the progression of versions is confusing even though the pages are numbered. In the note she admits that "sailor language" is compelling, a fact that means she will never be widely read by, presumably, a literary audience:
BE CAREFUL IN READING NOT TO MIX NUMBERS UP TOO MUCH AS I DID WITH SHEETS - ON ACCOUNT OF THAT DAMNED WET INK AND NO "LICKPAPER" (LO:SCHPAPIER) [GERMAN WORD] BEST IS - TO TURN EVERY PAGE OTHER SIDE -SOME ARE WRITTEN ON - SOME NOT BUT NUMBERS FOLLOW RIGHT! ONLY TO FIND THEM - ONCE OVERLOOKED - IS SOMETING TO INVENT NEW CURSES ABOUT - WHICH IS- AFTER ALL - TEMPTING! IF YOU POSSESS GIFT - I DON'T - THOUGH I FEEL ENVIOUS LONGING FOR - TO DO SO --AS ANY OLD WEST COW -PHUSTER IS ABLE TO - IF YOU EVER HAVE READ "ALL STORY WEEKLY" ??ARGOSY?? - AS FERVENTLY AS I DID - YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN - ELSE - YOU DON'T - NEVER WILL! ALL MY VOCABULARY GENERATES FROM THAT SOURCE - ONLY - I USE IT DIFFERENT! I AM STRANGELY UNGIFTED ABOUT "CUSSING" I RECALL MANY "WHITELIVERED COYOTES" - HERE - I STOP ALREADY - "SAILORSLANGIDGE" IS ENTRANCING ALSO - IN ITS FANCIFUL CURLICUES - HERE I MEAGERLY RECALL "LANDLUBBER STUCK AGAIN! I TELL YOU DJUNA - DEAR - I WILL NEVER BECOME A POPULAR WRITER WHETHER YOU BELIEVE IT OR NO. AND I FEEL SORRY -- ELSE -- WETHER YOU BELIEVE IT OR NO! (UMD 2.135-136)