Excerpt from Logically Consistent Poetry by Kurt Schwitters, 1924:
Classical poetry depended on the similarity of human beings. It regarded the association of ideas as unequivocal. It was wrong. In any case, it was based on associations of ideas: ‘Uber allen Gipfeln ist Ruh’ (On the hill-tops all is tranquil.’). Here Goethe is not simply trying to tell us that it is quiet on the hill-tops. The reader is expected to experience this ‘tranquillity’ in the same way as the poet, tired by his official duties, escaping from the urban social round. How little such associations of ideas are universal becomes clear if one imagines a native of the Hedjaz (average population-density, two people per square kilometer) reading such a line. He would certainly be noticeably more impressed by ‘Lightning darts zag the Underground runs over the skyscraper’. In any case, the statement ‘all is tranquil’ produces no poetic feeling in him, because to him tranquillity is normal. Poetic feeling is what the poet counts on. And what is a poetic feeling? All the poetry of ‘tranquillity’ stands and falls by the capacity of the reader to feel. Words in themselves have no value here. Apart from a quite insignificant rhythm in the cadence, there is only the rhyme linking ‘Ruh’ with ‘du’ in the next line. The only unifying link between the constituent parts of a classical poem is the association of ideas — in other words, poetic feeling. Classical poetry as a whole appears to us today in the guise of Dadaist philosophy, and the less Dadaist the original intention, the crazier the result. Classical poetic form is nowadays only used by variety singers.
O beloved of my twenty-seven senses, I
love your! – you ye you your, I your, you my.
This belongs (by the way) elsewhere.
Who are you, uncounted female? You are
–are you? People say you are, –let
them say on, they don’t know a hawk from a handsaw.
You wear your hat uon your feet and walk round
on your hands, upon your hands you walk.
Halloo, your red dress, sawn up in white pleats.
Red I love Anna Blume, red I love your! — You
ye you your, I your, you my. –We?
This belongs (by the way) in icy fire.
Red bloom, red Anna Blume, what do people say?
Prize question: 1.) Anna Blume has a bird.
2.) Anna Blume is red.
3.) What colour is the bird?
Blue is the color of your yellow hair.
Red is the cooing of your green bird.
You simple girl in a simple dress, you dear
green beast, I love your! You ye you your,
I your, you my. — We?
This belongs (by the way) in the chest of fires.
Anna Blume! Anna, a-n-n-a, I trickle your
name. Your name drips like softest tallow.
Do you know, Anna, do you know already?
You can also be read from behind, and you, you
the loveliest of all, are from behind, as you are from
Tallow trickles caressingly down my back.
Anna Blume, you trickle beast, I love your!
8 Responses to “Dear DADA”
Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She serves on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is co-editing with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edited the anthology Bettering American Poetry 2015 and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.