The Lost Lunar Baedeker

The Lost Lunar Baedeker

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by Mina Loy

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Mina Loy's technique and subjects - prostitution, menstruation, destitution, and suicide - shock even some modernists and she vanished from the poetry scene as dramatically as she had appeared on it. Roger Conover has resuced the key texts from the pages of forgotten publications, and has included all of the futurist and feminist satires, poems from Loy's Paris and


Mina Loy's technique and subjects - prostitution, menstruation, destitution, and suicide - shock even some modernists and she vanished from the poetry scene as dramatically as she had appeared on it. Roger Conover has resuced the key texts from the pages of forgotten publications, and has included all of the futurist and feminist satires, poems from Loy's Paris and New York periods, and the complete cycle of "Love Songs," as well as previously unknown texts and detailed notes.

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From the Publisher

“[Mina Loy] may now be launched on a posthumous career as the electric-age Blake.” —Hugh Kenner, The Washington Times

“Mina Loy has finally been admitted into 'the company of poets,' the canon. As if she cared.” —Thom Gunn, The Times Literary Supplement

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)

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The Lost Lunar Baedeker

By Mina Loy, Roger L. Conover

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright © 1996 Estate of Mina Loy
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-374-52507-1



    There is no Life or Death,
    Only activity
    And in the absolute
    Is no declivity.
    There is no Love or Lust
    Only propensity
    Who would possess
    Is a nonentity.
    There is no First or Last
    Only equality
    And who would rule
    Joins the majority.
    There is no Space or Time
    Only intensity,
    And tame things
    Have no immensity.


    I am the centre
    Of a circle of pain
    Exceeding its boundaries in every direction

    The business of the bland sun
    Has no affair with me
    In my congested cosmos of agony
    From which there is no escape
    On infinitely prolonged nerve-vibrations
    Or in contraction
    To the pin-point nucleus of being

    Locate an irritation without
    It is within
    It is without
    The sensitized area
    Is identical with the extensity
    Of intension

    I am the false quantity
    In the harmony of physiological potentiality
    To which
    Gaining self-control
    I should be consonant
    In time

    Pain is no stronger than the resisting force
    Pain calls up in me
    The struggle is equal
    The open window is full of a voice
    A fashionable portrait-painter
    Running up-stairs to a woman's apartment

    "All the girls are tid'ly did'ly
    All the girls are nice
    Whether they wear their hair in curls

    At the back of the thoughts to which I permit crystallization
    The conception Brute
    The irresponsibility of the male
    Leaves woman her superior Inferiority
    He is running up-stairs
    I am climbing a distorted mountain of agony

    Incidentally with the exhaustion of control
    I reach the summit
    And gradually subside into anticipation of
    Which never comes
    For another mountain is growing up
    Which goaded by the unavoidable
    I must traverse
    Traversing myself

    Something in the delirium of night-hours
    Confuses while intensifying sensibility
    Blurring spatial contours
    So aiding elusion of the circumscribed
    That the gurgling of a crucified wild beast
    Comes from so far away
    And the foam on the stretched muscles of a mouth
    Is no part of myself
    There is a climax in sensibility
    When pain surpassing itself
    Becomes Exotic
    And the ego succeeds in unifying the positive and negative poles of
    Uniting the opposing and resisting forces
    In lascivious revelation
    Negation of myself as a unit
    Vacuum interlude
    I should have been emptied of life
    Giving life
    For consciousness in crises races
    Through the subliminal deposits of evolutionary processes
    Have I not
    A dead white feathered moth
    Laying eggs?
    A moment
    Being realization
    Vitalized by cosmic initiation
    Furnish an adequate apology
    For the objective
    Agglomeration of activities
    Of a life.
    A leap with nature
    Into the essence
    Of unpredicted Maternity
    Against my thigh
    Touch of infinitesimal motion
    Scarcely perceptible
    Warmth moisture
    Stir of incipient life
    Precipitating into me
    The contents of the universe
    Mother I am
    With infinite Maternity
    I am absorbed
    The was—is—ever—shall—be
    Of cosmic reproductivity

    Rises from the subconscious
    Impression of a cat
    With blind kittens
    Among her legs
    Same undulating life-stir
    I am that cat

    Rises from the sub-conscious
    Impression of small animal carcass
    Covered with blue-bottles
    And through the insects
    Waves that same undulation of living
    I am knowing
    All about

    The next morning
    Each woman-of-the-people
    Tip-toeing the red pile of the carpet
    Doing hushed service
    Each woman-of-the-people
    Wearing a halo
    A ludicrous little halo
    Of which she is sublimely unaware
    I once heard in a church
    —Man and woman God made them—
    Thank God.

    Italian Pictures

    July in Vallombrosa

    Old lady sitting still
    Pine trees standing quite still
    Sisters of mercy whispering
    Oust the Dryad
    O consecration of forest
    To the uneventful

    I cannot imagine anything
    Less disputably respectable
    Than prolonged invalidism in Italy
    At the beck
    Of a British practitioner
    Of all permissible pastimes
    Attendant upon chastity
    The one with which you can most efficiently insult
    Is your hobby of collecting death-beds
    Blue Nun

    So wrap the body in flannel and wool
    Of superior quality from the Anglo-American
    Until that ineffable moment
    When Rigor Mortis
    Divests it of its innate impurity

    While round the hotel
    Wanton Italian matrons
    Discuss the better business of bed-linen
    To regular puncture of needles
    The old lady has a daughter
    Who has been spent
    In chasing moments from one room to another
    When the essence of an hour
    Was in its passing
    With the passionate breath
    Of the bronchitis-kettle
    And her last little lust
    Lost itself in a saucer of gruel

    But all this moribund stuff
    Is not wasted
    For there is always Nature
    So its expensive upkeep
    Goes to support
    The loves
    Of head-waiters

    The Costa San Giorgio

    We English make a tepid blot
    On the messiness
    Of the passionate Italian life-traffic
    Throbbing the street up steep
    Up up to the porta
    In the stained frescoe of the dragon-slayer

    The hips of women sway
    Among the crawling children they produce
    And the church hits the barracks
    The greyness of marching men
    Falls through the greyness of stone
    Oranges half-rotten are sold at a reduction
    Hoarsely advertised as broken heads
    BROKEN HEADS and the barber
    Has an imitation mirror
    And Mary preserve our mistresses from seeing us as we see

    Licking is larger than mouths
    Boots than feet
    Slip Slap and the string dragging
    And the angle of the sun
    Cuts the whole lot in half

    And warms the folded hands
    Of a consumptive
    Left outside her chair is broken
    And she wonders how we feel
    For we walk very quickly
    The noonday cannon
    Having scattered the neighbour's pigeons

    The smell of small cooking
    From luckier houses
    Is cruel to the maimed cat
    Among the carpenter's shavings
    From three boys
    —One holding a bar—
    Who nevertheless
    Born of human parents
    Cry when locked in the dark

    Fluidic blots of sky
    Shift among roofs
    Between bandy legs
    Jerk patches of street
    Interrupted by clacking
    Of all the green shutters
    From which
    Bits of bodies
    Variously leaning
    Mingle eyes with the commotion

    For there is little to do
    The false pillow-spreads
    Hugely initialed
    Already adjusted
    On matrimonial beds
    And the glint on the china virgin
    Consummately dusted

    Having been thrown
    Anything or something
    That might have contaminated intimacy
    Onto the middle of the street

    Costa Magic

    Her father
    Indisposed to her marriage
    And a rabid man at that
    My most sympathetic daughter
    Make yourself a conception
    As large as this one
    But with yellow hair

    From the house
    Issuing Sunday dressed
    Combed precisely
    Pours something

    While listening up I hear my husband
    Mumbling Mumbling
    Mumbling at the window
    Under an hour
    Her hand to her side pressing
    Being bewitched
    Cesira fading
    Daily daily feeble softer

    The doctor Phthisis
    The wise woman says to take her
    So we following her instruction
    I and the neighbour
    Take her—

    The glass rattling
    The rain slipping
    I and the neighbour and her aunt
    Bunched together
    And Cesira
    Droops across the cab

    Fields and houses
    Pass like the pulling out
    Of sweetmeat ribbon
    From a rascal's mouth

    A wheel in a rut
    Jerks back my girl on the padding
    And the hedges into the sky
    Coming to the magic tree
    Cesira becomes as a wild beast
    A tree of age

    If Cesira should not become as a wild beast
    It is merely Phthisis
    This being the wise woman's instruction
    Knowing she has to die
    We drive home
    To wait
    She certainly does in time

    It is unnatural in a Father
    Bewitching a daughter
    Whose hair down covers her thighs

    Three Moments in Paris

    I. One O'Clock at Night

    Though you had never possessed me
    I had belonged to you since the beginning of time
    And sleepily I sat on your chair beside you
    Leaning against your shoulder
    And your careless arm across my back gesticulated
    As your indisputable male voice roared
    Through my brain and my body
    Arguing dynamic decomposition
    Of which I was understanding nothing
    And the only less male voice of your brother pugilist of the intellect
    Boomed as it seemed to me so sleepy
    Across an interval of a thousand miles

    An interim of a thousand years
    But you who make more noise than any man in the world when you
    clear your throat
    Deafening woke me
    And I caught the thread of the argument
    Immediately assuming my personal mental attitude
    And ceased to be a woman

    Beautiful half-hour of being a mere woman
    The animal woman
    Understanding nothing of man
    But mastery and the security of imparted physical heat
    Indifferent to cerebral gymnastics
    Or regarding them as the self-indulgent play of children
    Or the thunder of alien gods
    But you woke me up
    Anyhow who am I that I should criticize your theories of
    plastic velocity
    "Let us go home she is tired and wants to go to bed."

    II. Café du Néant

    Little tapers leaning lighted diagonally
    Stuck in coffin tables of the Café du Néant
    Leaning to the breath of baited bodies
    Like young poplars fringing the Loire

    Eyes that are full of love
    And eyes that are full of kohl
    Projecting light across the fulsome ambiente
    Trailing the rest of the animal behind them
    Telling of tales without words
    And lies of no consequence
    One way or another

    The young lovers hermetically buttoned up in black
    To black cravat
    To the blue powder edge dusting the yellow throat
    What color could have been your bodies
    When last you put them away

    Nostalgic youth
    Holding your mistress's pricked finger
    In the indifferent flame of the taper
    Synthetic symbol of LIFE
    In this factitious chamber of DEATH
    The woman
    As usual
    Is smiling as bravely
    As it is given to her to be brave
    While the brandy cherries
    In winking glasses
    Are decomposing
    With the flesh of spectators
    And at a given spot
    There is one
    Having the concentric lighting focussed precisely upon her
    Prophetically blossoms in perfect putrefaction
    Yet there are cabs outside the door.

    III. Magasins du Louvre

    All the virgin eyes in the world are made of glass

    Long lines of boxes
    Of dolls
    Propped against banisters
    Walls and pillars
    Huddled on shelves
    And composite babies with arms extended
    Hang from the ceiling

    In a profound silence
    Which the shop walker left trailing behind him
    When he ambled to the further end of the gallery
    To annoy the shop-girl

    All the virgin eyes in the world are made of glass
    They alone have the effrontery to
    Stare through the human soul
    Seeing nothing
    Between parted fringes
    One cocotte wears a bowler hat and a sham camellia
    And one an iridescent boa
    For there are two of them
    And the solicitous mouth of one is straight
    The other curved to a static smile
    They see the dolls
    And for a moment their eyes relax
    To a flicker of elements unconditionally primeval
    And now averted
    Seek each other's surreptitiously
    To know if the other has seen
    While mine are inextricably entangled with the pattern of the carpet
    As eyes are apt to be
    In their shame
    Having surprised a gesture that is ultimately intimate

    All the virgin eyes in the world are made of glass.

    Sketch of a Man on a Platform

    Man of absolute physical equilibrium
    You stand so straight on your legs
    Every plank or clod you plant your feet on
    Becomes roots for those limbs

    Among the men you accrete to yourself
    You are more heavy
    And more light
    Force being most equitably disposed
    Is easiest to lift from the ground
    So at the same time
    Your movements
    Savor of the airy-fairy of the ballet
    The essence of a Mademoiselle Genée
    Winks in the to-and-fro of your cuff-links

    Your projectile nose
    Has meddled in the more serious business
    Of the battle-field
    With the same incautious aloofness
    Of intense occupation
    That it snuffles the trail of the female
    And the comfortable
    Passing odors of love

    Your genius
    So much less in your brain

    Than in your body
    Reinforcing the hitherto negligible
    Of life
    Deals so exclusively with
    The vital

    That it is equally happy expressing itself
    Through the activity of pushing
    In the opposite direction
    To that which they are lethargically willing to go
    As in the amative language
    Of the eyes

    Fundamentally unreliable
    You leave others their initial strength
    On stretching the theoretic elastic of your conceptions
    Till the extent is adequate
    To the hooking on
    Of any— or all
    Forms of creative idiosyncracy
    While the occasional snap
    Of actual production
    Stings the face of the public.

    Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots

    Latin Borghese

    Houses hold virgins
    The door's on the chain
    'Plumb streets with hearts'
    'Bore curtains with eyes'
    Virgins without dots
    Stare beyond probability

    See the men pass
    Their hats are not ours
    We take a walk
    They are going somewhere
    And they may look everywhere
    Men's eyes look into things
    Our eyes look out
    A great deal of ourselves
    We offer to the mirror
    Something less to the confessional
    The rest to Time
    There is so much Time
    Everything is full of it
    Such a long time

    Virgins may whisper
    'Transparent nightdresses made all of lace'
    Virgins may squeak
    'My dear I should faint'
    Flutter..... flutter.... flutter....
    ....'And then the man—'
    Wasting our giggles
    For we have no dots

    We have been taught
    Love is a god
    White with soft wings
    Nobody shouts
    Virgins for sale
    Yet where are our coins
    For buying a purchaser
    Love is a god
    Marriage expensive
    A secret well kept
    Makes the noise of the world
    Nature's arms spread wide
    Making room for us
    Room for all of us
    Somebody who was never
    a virgin
    Has bolted the door

    Put curtains at our windows
    See the men pass
    They are going somewhere
    Fleshes like weeds
    Sprout in the light
    So much flesh in the world
    Wanders at will

    Some behind curtains
    Throbs to the night
    Bait to the stars
    Spread it with gold
    And you carry it home
    Against your shirt front
    To a shaded light
    With the door locked
    Against virgins who
    Might scratch


Excerpted from The Lost Lunar Baedeker by Mina Loy, Roger L. Conover. Copyright © 1996 Estate of Mina Loy. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Mina Loy was a British artist, poety, playwright, novelist, futurist and actress. She is the author of Lost Lunar Baedeker.

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The Lost Lunar Baedeker 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
library_grrl85 More than 1 year ago
How do I love this book? Let me try to count the ways. 1, the titles which seduce the attention, eg 'Lost Lunar Baedeker', 'Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots', 'Human Cylinders', 'Moreover, the Moon--'...2, the irresistible unpredictably opulent succulent startling mixtures of words (eg 'orgies of orchid', 'chandelier souls of infusoria from Pharoah's tombstones', 'ginfizz eucharist', 'retinal altar') whose dazzling textures I want to slowly taste forever in my mouth or else wear on my wrist as a queer bracelet. 3, the felt bodily presence of she who wrote these poems, who wove these textures queer, who mixed such heady word-chemicals; her flesh permeated with Genius which knows pain &pleasure on every possible scale. 4, the neologisms, 'Stellectric', 'eye-white', & the obscure diction, 'footle', 'Agamogenesis', through which She aeshteticises the new & the 'exotic.' 5, the opening lines of each poem. ++MY FAVOURITES++ A silver Lucifer serves cocaine in cornucopia...Though you had never possessed me I had belonged to you since the beginning of time...Surreptitious fanfare of unadams amingle with ouradams...So this is death...the monstrous sapphire lies in her lavish dowry...Trained in a circus of swans she proceeds receedingly...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago