Of Course the Scythe Got Him

By John Hertz:   I’ve been thinking about Steve Sneyd. Maybe you have too.  He died last June (1941-2018).  His name meant the handle of a scythe.

In 2015 the Science Fiction Poetry Association named him a Grand Master. Here’s a short poem.

red mist all round this
far realm, we can no longer
see to add more blood

He called it “A Real Test of Human Resorce”.  I’m reluctant to change his spelling; he was hardly illiterate; consider if he might have meant This may happen if U aren’t there.

You can and you might like to look around for things he wrote.  Maybe you have, some.  I often disagreed with him.  That doesn’t always matter.

Among other expressions he published the fanzine Data Dump, quarterly for a quarter-century.  I was a regular contributor for half its life.  He published five dozen of my poems.

Among things from me that couldn’t fit in Data Dump –  four pages handwritten on both sides of a sheet of A5 paper folded in half (oops, out of room!) – you might like these, so far not appearing elsewhere.

* * *

Besides Toledo, whose claims are old and sound, I am told that since 1998 there has been a Marzipan Museum at Kfar Tavor, i.e. Mt. Tabor, in the Galilee, i.e. north Israel, where almonds grow.  You yourself are an Almondburian.

* * *

To call Will Yeats a cubist
May seem a jolly lark,
But shoot your next shaft better.
This one has missed the mark.
His painting never left a view
Mechanical and stark;
For him the link of heart and eye
Kept hold of skin and bark.

* * *

An Irish friend has explained to me there’s only one bean sidhe (“banshee”).  One, she comments, is quite enough.

* * *

Barbarella is the eponym, and Durand Durand is another char­acter, in Jean-Claude Forest’s Barbarella comics, translated from French by Richard Seaver and published in the Grove Press Evergreen Review (##37-39, 1965-1966) then separately by Grove Press (1966).  In French the final “d” of “Durand Durand” is silent.  Haven’t seen the film, whose images do not suggest any grasp of the original – maybe I’ll let that pun remain.

* * *

The doltish accusation that Poe was against science is sometimes made to rest on his 1829 sonnet

To Science
Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomèd mine –
Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made
The tender-person’d Lamia melt into a shade.

– an argument which ignores Poe’s exquisite irony, and may earn its place in the Hall of Shame simply by not troubling to look up “Lamia”.  Tender-person’d!  A tender-person’d succubus!  Poe is applauding science, and satirizing those to whom its help at best seems the ghost of folly haunting their sweet dreams (Keats, “Lamia” ll. 376-77, 1820).

* * *

Indeed Austen’s world is alien to us.  So few of us who read her now trouble to look what it is, instead of only seeing our own notions in it, that I tremble at the thought of our meeting off-planet aliens any time soon.

* * *

Any man who seeks a sexbot deserves what he gets.  Courtesans laugh at us.  “Love for sale – old love, new love, every love but true love” (C. Porter, 1930).

* * *

Eliza Butler’s Myth of the Magus (1948; 3rd ed. 1993 pp. 100-101) calls Phoebilla a treacherous woman.  But Domenico Comparetti’s Vergil in the Middle Ages (1872; Benecke tr. 1895, p. 361), discussing Jean d’Outremeuse, Ly Myreur des Histors (14th Cent.), points out that Phoebilla, in love with Virgil (so spelling since we discuss the legendary magician, not the historical poet), made clear she expected marriage, and only after he took advantage of her by enjoying relations while con­tinuing to defer legitimating did she humiliate him with the basket – or, if he was omniscient, put him to the trouble of sending a demon in his semblance.

* * *

We can certainly do call and response if you like.

Ozymandias, King of Kings!

Ozymandias, King of Kings!

Ozymandias owns nothing!

Ozymandias owns nothing!

Ozymandias, great and strong!

Ozymandias, great and strong!

Ozymandias, gone so long!

Ozymandias, gone so long!

Ozymandias was so vain!

Ozymandias was so vain!

Ozymandias’ legs remain!

Ozymandias’ legs remain!

Ozymandias, mighty man!

Ozymandias, mighty man!

Ozymandias, empty sand!

Ozymandias, empty sand!

* * *

Why should poets be useful?
We’re busy being juiceful.
Let the prosy be newsful
And harden their minds to be ruseful.
The sterile may dream us seduceful
And press us back to a cabooseful
Where we’ll play.

The French painters know we’re Toulouseful,
To U.S. folk Dr. Seuss-ful,
But Ogden Nash was the most gooseful
Of his day.

* * *

“Ents & Tech”.  Now there’s an image.

* * *

Once I saw a large graffito

There is only

ONE
ENO

whose tautology so impressed me that I verified by adding below

naturally

although, or perhaps because, I had then neither heard, nor heard of, Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, RDI.

* * *

Of course a preacher fails if he is taken for a free-floating miasma of misdeed.

* * *

What a name for a poet-scientist is Valerie Laws!

* * *

In Vanamonde I’ve like others elsewhere wondered about the reality or existence of fictional characters.  Perhaps few today believe in Thor. Yet in a sense he exists.  O’Brian says to Winston Smith “You do not exist.”

* * *

You very nicely begin [DD 221 p. 2] with the Space Race and end it “Out of Space”.  Indeed one wonders what could be out of space.  Maybe this is like Hui Neng’s “What was your face before you were born?”

6 thoughts on “Of Course the Scythe Got Him

  1. *SIGH* I have some of his chapbooks around here somewhere. I’ll have to dig them out for a reread.

    Requiescat In Pace

  2. The British pop group Duran Duran took its name from the movie version of Barbarella, but omitted the silent ‘d’.

  3. Steve and I corresponded via snail mail for decades 80’s-90’s. I once told him that his address was a poem in itself. “Almondbury, Huddersfield” (etc) in particular being poetic and if you don’t know he lived in Almondbury (or that there is such a place) this below would draw a blank, I’ll bet:

    Besides Toledo, whose claims are old and sound, I am told that since 1998 there has been a Marzipan Museum at Kfar Tavor, i.e. Mt. Tabor, in the Galilee, i.e. north Israel, where almonds grow. You yourself are an Almondburian.

  4. I was a late devotee of Steve’s. Having read an intro and poetry he wrote for Where Rockets Burn Through, Ed. Russell Jones. I went digging but he was virtually absent from the inter webs, having largely escaped that spider. I corresponded with him for a bit in an effort to interview him for a post at Amazing Stories (it’s there). It was always a challenge to read his very small and almost illegible handwriting, but once you decided it, it was like a sudden dawning of understanding. I hope someone still has all those Data Dumps and can digitize them.

  5. John Hertz replies by carrier pigeon:

    If you follow the “Steve Sneyd” link in my first line you’ll find there that OGH and I linked to the Amazing post.

    Marge Simon who comments above was the other poet SFPA named a Grand Master with Steve Sneyd in 2015.

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