“Through a blue haze one saw the ground, covered with snow, shining under the magical moon… A piercing wind blew from the frozen river – the muff – if it would come it would keep her warm – … Like a knife they went through my soul – Rose petals – … I had been the momentary victim of a freakish fancy… The rain irritated me… Through her tears she saw a star shining in the night… War – It had shattered homes – brought skeletons – where once children laughed. Brought famine – once birds had eaten crumbs… Little fool muttered the maddened officer… A night of drunkenness, of horror, had passed in the Belgian chateau… Play on, he whispered. Play for me – for England – whose son I am… She saw no friends – the ones of former days – Nihilists. They were perhaps hiding in foreign lands – or were in the darker seclusion of some Siberian Prison… Speak, speak – Angel or demon, or both, speak to me before I throw you into the sea… The alienist gave his testimony. The prisoner was mad. Clearly… I shall have ceased forever, I hope, to count the bars of my iron door, my sole occupation and the one thing which keeps me from thinking too much of the past, so bitter… Lydia – risen from the ashes – walked out into the snow and cold… I found myself in a small room, blue with smoke and poorly furnished. An old man was cooking supper, as he hummed some weird old gypsy tune… The snow is falling and covering in white the grim rows of houses opposite my little shop, the streets are deserted save by a few hurrying pedestrians and some merry school children going down to the frozen river for an hour’s skating before dusk – … On the steps of this now abandoned house sat the muttering old woman… Strange, weird music of the desert played by slaves… The agonizing sorrow of Gethsemane again swept over Christ, as He stood by the Lake.”
What was that all about? Let me enlighten you. I took a snippet from each of the extraordinary Futurist Stories by Margery Verner Reed, published in 1919, and cobbled them together. I hope this drastic abridgement will persuade you to read the entire book. This is passionate, sometimes hallucinatory, prose, unlike anything I have read before, as if bulky 19th century novels had been boiled down to their emotional essentials.
Who was Margery Verner Reed, and in what sense did she understand Futurism? I have been unable to discover anything about her save that she also wrote Under-Currents and the splendidly-titled Prose Petals. Tireless literary researchers are implored to add their ha’porth in the Comments.