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Sunday, 12 January 2014

Stevie Smith: In My Dreams


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[Untitled]: photo by :-) und trotzdem..., 20 August 2012


In my dreams I am always saying goodbye and riding away,   
Whither and why I know not nor do I care.
And the parting is sweet and the parting over is sweeter,   
And sweetest of all is the night and the rushing air.

In my dreams they are always waving their hands and saying goodbye,
And they give me the stirrup cup and I smile as I drink,   
I am glad the journey is set, I am glad I am going,
I am glad, I am glad, that my friends don't know what I think.


Stevie Smith (1902-1971): In My Dreams from Tender Only to One, 1938



[Untitled]: photo by :-) und trotzdem..., 20 August 2012
 

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Roma: photo by :-) und trotzdem..., 4 February 2012


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[Untitled]: photo by :-) und trotzdem..., 15 January 2009
 

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Roma: photo by :-) und trotzdem..., 12 February 2010



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[Untitled]: photo by :-) und trotzdem..., 12 February 2011

9 comments:

ACravan said...

For the just-risen dreamer, confronting this photographer's approach to color (and everything else she places in the frame) is pretty astonishing. (And it isn't just the "nightcap" I'm having, which I hope will help me have more dreams before sunrise.) Stevie Smith's poem is perfect here -- heartbreaking, uplifting and real -- and reminds me of a conversation we were having last night at dinner about poetry. (Jane's writing a poetry paper for school this weekend and we're all having our innings.) Basically, another writer would (and no doubt has) written a million more words on this subject and said much less. And now I know what a "stirrup cup" is. I attended a couple of hunt breakfasts in the past, but don't recall hearing the term. At those Chester County, PA events, I recall the riders and spectators/guests being served Irish coffee in styrofoam cups in early morning and then driving home woozily wondering how the riders could possibly survive. Curtis

TC said...

Curtis,

It's a bit hard to imagine Stevie, a publisher's secretary, riding to hounds, much less on a horse. "That's the point of dreams, they put you where you would otherwise not be," she once said.

The photos are dreamy indeed. The photographer is Karen Orth. The milieu, I believe, is principally Italian; that's Etna in the eerie top shot (a spooky remake of On the Beach).

ACravan said...

Your reply caused me to do a little quick Google research and I found this on the BBC website when I typed in the prompt: Stevie Smith, Horse: "She got the nickname Stevie from a friend who said she rode a horse like the most famous jockey of her childhood, Steve Donoghue." Modern conveniences are sometimes amazing. Curtis

TC said...

Oh my, yes, there's that bit of lore; but of course jockeys need not concern themselves with stirrup cups, stiff belts at the starting gate, nor any of that... and then too, perhaps more humanely, the foxes need not concern themselves about the jockeys, whose concern they definitely are not.

Nin Andrews said...

Beautiful post and yes dreamy, and I love the ending where I get that taste of wit I expect from Stevie Smith: "glad that my friends don't know what I think."

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

I am glad, I am glad that Stevie’s so “bad”
We can almost taste her.

Wooden Boy said...

Stevie's grand, and "the night and the rushing air" is as fine as it gets.

Every time I read her I get the shivers: making a brazen use of the metrical laws and never serving. I want her for MY lion aunt.

"I am glad" times four.

TC said...

Happy to hear the love of Stevie Smith extends all round the enlightened universe. Oh, the wicked shivers, the delicious badness!

Didn't mean to suggest Stevie was never, at least in her imagination, the "horsey" type, nor fond of jockeys, perish the thought.

Steve Donoghue (1884-1945), the prominent Irish jockey whom she was (by legend) to have resembled as a girl, is seen here atop Manna, winner of the 1925 Epsom Derby. It was that victory which earned Donoghue the fame that likely provided the basis for Stevie's nickname. Manna was a 9/2 longshot, the race was run on a mire of a track in a heavy, driving rain (one imagines the forest of dripping royal umbrellas), and Donoghue won easily with Manna, finishing eight lengths in front and going away. But of course that's the public sort of thoroughbred business, with wagering & c. Not strictly limited to the swells -- the "horsey" set. And in any case that particular typology would have eluded Stevie perforce; it seems one had to be born to an aethereal level of horsiness, at least in her day. Title, landowning, property, and class rank were the qualifications. The nickname, I think, landed upon her, and stuck, largely as a result of her tiny waiflke physical stature, together with her girlhood admiration for the most famous jockey of the era. She was indeed born common, in a common place (Hull). When she was three her father ran off to sea. At five she was seriously ill with tubercular peritonitis, and kept in a sanatorium for some years; her health was fragile thereafter. She attended a girls' school but not university. When she was sixteen her mother died; thereafter she lived with her beloved "Lion Aunt" in north London, and worked at a drear job as a publisher's secretary. Her name will never be found in De Brett's, the pedigree bible of Brit aristocracy and as such the encyclopedia of foxhunting eminence.

ACravan said...

I just love the three syllables "stirrup cup" and the outside-my-own-experience image, which literally sets you on a journey. It's a remarkable poem and assembly of pictures. Curtis