The Selected Gush (1880-1910)

Letter to The Times

Sir –

I cannot abide

the slender new volume,

The Selected Gush (1880-1910).

But, who among us,

in all honesty, could say

they’ve never once been smitten

by her louche, languid lines of lust

(described in this very journal

as ‘fin de siècle erotica’)?

No! Neither I!

I’ve annotated her verse –

been very thorough –

a fan, pencilling stanzas

that once made me blush.

But, of late, sir, her similes

seem not quite as agile

and worse, word flights,

once sweet and fragile,

are frequently crushed

in a rush of modernist


Take, as example, this [from Three Bridges] –

In the theatre on Brighton pier/

the slapping swell, slatted, beneath/

reeking of cheap shag baccy. Oh, dear!

I implore thee, unbutton! / Unbutton

and ravage with teeth!

But, of course, instead, I,

back at Three Bridges,

beneath cherry-pink blossom/ petticoats

pooling/ the mown vicarage lawn/ listen

to the morning kisses of leather/ on willow

and read, once again/ his

winter-long letter, describing those damned

screaming of horses at Sebastopol.

8 thoughts on “The Selected Gush (1880-1910)

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