The first section of the poem acts as an introduction to Loy’s persisting inversion of typical romantic tropes and was included in both of the poem’s Others iterations:
Many early readers found it bawdy and shocking, particularly coming from a female poet (Academy of American Poets). Loy employs disjointed chronology of action and images in the first stanza through a series of kaleidoscopic noun clauses: “Spawn of Fantasies,” “Pig Cupid,” “erotic garbage,” and “mucous-membrane,” as well as verbs with unclear subjects: “silting,” “rooting,” and “pulls.” This disparate lumping together of phrases makes imposing any kind of order onto the actions difficult for the reader. The speaker conflates traditional romance: “Once upon a time,” “Cupid,” and “star-topped” with the base and profane: “pig,” “erotic garbage,” “weed,” and “mucous-membrane” (Loy 53). As Selinger interprets, “We told love stories, fairy-tale romances in which sex was kept discretely out of sight. Now Pig Cupid’s rosy snout, a displaced and comical phallus, burrows into every subtext, bringing lust to light” (Selinger 26). The second stanza of this section is sexual and unrestrained, utilizing explosive, bright imagery, like “bengal light” and “sky-rocket,” to evoke orgasmic sensations. But Loy’s choice to set “These are suspect places” apart illustrates that the speaker is aware of the explicit nature of her thoughts and feels out of place, longing to restrain herself. In the final stanza, the speaker has trapped herself within the “coloured glass” of the “lantern,” experiencing only a “flicker” of her previous “bengal light” (Loy 53). The progression of this section from debasing romantic tropes to erotic play to ultimate restraint begins to capture the tensions of navigating love in a complicated modern context in which old conventions are being thwarted but new expectations have yet to be established.
Previous: Introduction & Critical Background Next: Close Reading Section XIII