Biography of Djuna Barnes
Djuna Barnes (June 12, 1892 – June 18, 1982) was an American writer who played an important part in the development of 20th century English language modernist writing and was one of the key figures in 1920s and 30s bohemian Paris after filling a similar role in the Greenwich Village of the teens. Her novel Nightwood became a cult work of modern fiction, helped by an introduction by T. S. Eliot. It stands out today for its portrayal of lesbian themes and its distinctive writing style. As a roman à clef, the novel features a thinly veiled portrait of Barnes in the character of Nora Flood, whereas Nora’s lover Robin Vote is a composite of Thelma Wood and the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. Since Barnes' death, interest in her work has grown and many of her books are back in print.
Djuna Barnes Poems
Lines To A Lady
Lay her under the rusty grass, With her two eyes heavy and blind and done; Her two hands crossed beneath her breast One on one.
From Fifth Avenue Up
SOMEDAY beneath some hard Capricious star— Spreading its light a little Over far,
From Third Avenue On
AND now she walks on out turned feet Beside the litter in the street Or rolls beneath a dirty sheet Within the town.
A LITTLE trellis stood beside my head, And all the tiny fruitage of its vine Fashioned a shadowy cover to my bed, And I was madly drunk on shadow wine!
Twilight Of The Illicit
You, with your long blank udders And your calms, Your spotted linen and your Slack'ning arms.
Whatloin-cloth, what rag of wrong Unpriced? What turn of body, what of lust Undiced?
To A Cabaret Dancer
A thousand lights had smitten her Into this thing; Life had taken her and given her One place to sing.
Seen From The 'L'
So she stands—nude—stretching dully Two amber combs loll through her hair A vague molested carpet pitches Down the dusty length of stair.
What altar cloth, what rag of worth Unpriced? What turn of card, what trick of game Undiced?
Corpse A They brought her in, a shattered small Cocoon, With a little bruised body like
Whatloin-cloth, what rag of wrong
What turn of body, what of lust
So we've worshipped you a little
More than Christ.