Ostentatious

has 7 versions
• Index to In Transition
X Bibliographic Information

Ostentatious

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 5, Frame 203
  • Second: Reel 5, Frame 205
  • Third: Reel 5, Frame 206
  • Fourth: Reel 5, Frame 207
  • Fifth: Reel 5, Frame 208
  • Sixth: Reel 5, Frame 516
  • Seventh: this version appeared in transition 16-17 (June 1929): 24. There is no image for this version.

Textual Notes

Drafts of this poem occupy series 3, box 3, folder 17. The Sixth version appears on the verso of "Sermon on Life's Beggar Truth"The poem was written between 1923 and 1927. The poem was published posthumously in transition 16-17 (June 1929): 24.

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.

X Critical Introduction

Critical Introduction

"Ostentatious", published posthumously in transition in the June 1929 issue was the last poem by the Baroness published in a little magazine in the modernist era. Eugene Jolas’s piece “Logos” begins on the page after the Baroness’s poem. He begins the piece: “Poetry is at the cross-roads today,” and he goes on to define this crossroads as one between a “positivist” and “sterile” poetry that gives a “monotonous description” of a “mediocre universe” and experimental poetry that seeks to revise “traditional” values and is “in open revolt against naturalistic concepts” (25). These are concepts already expressed in magazines such as The Little Review and others, but like the editors of Dial and Poetry, Jolas inscribes a transcendental and otherworldly element to the poet by denigrating “verbal freaks and literary acrobatics” and postulating that the “orphic poet” has a vision that is “direct and pure.” This orphic poet, he contends, has to do with the world, but his poetry does not: “Poetry, using the word as mechanics, may [. . .] produce a metaphoric universe with is a sublimation of the physical world” (26). The piece serves as a warning to the dead author of the posthumously published poem that precedes it: poetry should have little to do with your life. Clearly, it seems that the experimental nature of the poem was what attracted Jolas to it. Thus, in the context of the published poem, the ttitle "Ostentatious" has less to do with the Baroness's well-known street performances and more to do with the more oymoronic because more subtle ostentatious element of the sky and the word in play.

“Ostentatious; Westward:; Eastward:; Agog.” (transition June 1929, 24) relies on strictures of reading order and space to make meaning. In this compilation poem, the Baroness includes four separate poems. The first and topmost stanza, titled “Ostentatious” discusses “Vivid fall’s/Bugle sky;” the second to the right is titled “WESTWARD:”, while the next, lower to the left is titled “EASTWARD:”; the last stanza, at the bottom of the space, is titled “Agog” and discusses “Ultramarine/Avenues.” While the placement of the sky at the top and the water at the bottom provokes little thought, the displacement of East and West—in terms of mapping standards—is more curious. That these stanzas actually include the adverbial form “Eastward” and “Westward” indicates a missing verb and therefore a missing subject. This occlusion emphasizes the perspective of that missing subject. The “Eastward” stanza in the traditionally “West” (because on the far left) position is about what one views from the West looking Eastward: a rising moon in the East. Likewise, the “Westward” stanza in the traditionally “East” position is about the setting sun. The day is bright as a bugle at the highest point of the sky (at the top of the page). The sun begins to set in the “westward” looking perspective where the tones of the poem deepen (the golden saxophone). As the day wanes or as the reader moves down the page in traditional reading order, however, the moon rises towards the East, and it seems that travesty prevails: from the centered perspective of the sea, the sun and the moon are both risen; resembling two eyes widened in shock, these eyes are “Agog” at the world. The tone and meaning of each word is dependent on the reader’s movement through the graphical interface or the space on the page. Space is an essential element within the poem with which the Baroness was working. Indeed, in the first of the four manuscript versions of “Ostentatious,” the words of the text change little while their movement in the space on the page changes dramatically, emphasizing the fact that the Baroness anticipates the reader’s ordered movement through space as a signifying element in the poem.

XWitness
OSTENTATIOUS c
There are notes written in dark green and pencil on this draft that appear to be in Djuna Barnes's handwriting. The notes read: “I spooked (10)/I am adrift, God is so slow/with me (16) (18)/Photo made by Andre Kertesz/5 rue de Vanues/P.14/Cast by Oscar Stornoro”.
c
In this version, lines that appear as “Castle Cloud’s / Leafy limbswish” and “Big She-moon’s /Cheekflushed /Travesty” in the manuscripts are printed in the June 1929 issue of tradition as “Castle Cloud’d / Leafy limbswish” and “Big She-moon’d /Cheek Flushed /Travesty,” the “d” in lieu of the “s” on “Cloud” and “Moon.
 
ALOFT:
VIVID FALL'SVivid fall's
BUGLE SKY —Bugle sky -
 
BELOW:
CASTLE CLOUD'SCastle Cloud'd
LEAFY LIMBSWISH ——   ——Leafy limbswish -


WESTWARD:
 
WESTWARD:
SAXOPHONE DAY'S Saxophone day's
STEEL BLAST GALAXY -  ——
STEALBLAST
Alternate spelling: STEELBLAST
STEELBLASTSteel Blast
GALAXY Galaxy ——


EASTWARD:
 
EASTWARD   :
 
BIG SH
BIG SHE-MOON'S CHEEK  FLUSHED TRAVESTY'S -
SHE-MOONS Big she moon'd
CHEEKFLUSHEDCheek Flushed
TRAVESTY Travesty
 
FLAMBOYANT STRUMPET
 
WAXING


AGOG
 
ALONGGOGAGOG
ULTRAMARINE AVENUE'S LIMPID THOROUGHFARE Ultramarine
AVENUESAvenues
LIMPID Limpid
THOROUGHFARE.Thoroughfare.
 
FLAMBOYANT STRUMPET
E.V.F.L.
XWitness
OSTENTATIOUS c
There are notes written in dark green and pencil on this draft that appear to be in Djuna Barnes's handwriting. The notes read: “I spooked (10)/I am adrift, God is so slow/with me (16) (18)/Photo made by Andre Kertesz/5 rue de Vanues/P.14/Cast by Oscar Stornoro”.
c
In this version, lines that appear as “Castle Cloud’s / Leafy limbswish” and “Big She-moon’s /Cheekflushed /Travesty” in the manuscripts are printed in the June 1929 issue of tradition as “Castle Cloud’d / Leafy limbswish” and “Big She-moon’d /Cheek Flushed /Travesty,” the “d” in lieu of the “s” on “Cloud” and “Moon.
 
ALOFT:
VIVID FALL'SVivid fall's
BUGLE SKY —Bugle sky -
 
BELOW:
CASTLE CLOUD'SCastle Cloud'd
LEAFY LIMBSWISH ——   ——Leafy limbswish -


WESTWARD:
 
WESTWARD:
SAXOPHONE DAY'S Saxophone day's
STEEL BLAST GALAXY -  ——
STEALBLAST
Alternate spelling: STEELBLAST
STEELBLASTSteel Blast
GALAXY Galaxy ——


EASTWARD:
 
EASTWARD   :
 
BIG SH
BIG SHE-MOON'S CHEEK  FLUSHED TRAVESTY'S -
SHE-MOONS Big she moon'd
CHEEKFLUSHEDCheek Flushed
TRAVESTY Travesty
 
FLAMBOYANT STRUMPET
 
WAXING


AGOG
 
ALONGGOGAGOG
ULTRAMARINE AVENUE'S LIMPID THOROUGHFARE Ultramarine
AVENUESAvenues
LIMPID Limpid
THOROUGHFARE.Thoroughfare.
 
FLAMBOYANT STRUMPET
E.V.F.L.

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