Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Seuss Also Rises

Paul Di Filippo, reading Charles Cohen's The Seuss, the Whole Seuss and Nothing but the Seuss, mentioned that in 1926, at age 22, Theodore Geisel met Ernest Hemingway in Paris.

In an alternate universe somewhere, that meeting gave rise to a collaboration.


That Lady Ashley!
That Lady Ashley!
I do not like that Lady Ashley!

"Would you like to make love to me?"
"Would you like it, Jakey B.?"

I could not, cannot, Lady Ashley.
The Germans shot off my snicker-snee.

"Would you like it here or there?"

I would not like it here or there.
I would not like it anywhere.
I could not, cannot, Lady Ashley.
It happened above the Po Valley.

"Would you like it in a house?"
"Would you like it without a louse?"

I would not like it in a house.
I do not care about the louse.
I am a part of the lost generation.
I am incapable of copulation.
And you have a fiance, Mike C.
I could not, cannot, Lady Ashley.

"Would you like it in a jazz club"
"Would you like it behind a pub?"

Not in a club.
Not behind a pub.
Not in a house.
Not without a louse.
Courage may be grace under pressure.
But what is sex without the pleasure?
And you, a hedonist, are the death of romance.
How could our relationship stand a chance?
Being hard-boiled during the day is easy,
But at night it's not so easy-peasy.
But, and if, and still, I plea,
I could not, cannot, Lady Ashley.

"Would you? Could you? In San Sebastian?"
"I'm bringing along a Greek wingman."

I could not, cannot, in San Sebastian.

"You may like it. You will see."
"Or will you take solace in Bill G.?"

Friends of the heart trump rumpy-pumpy.
And he will give me a stuffed puppy.

I do not like it in Pamplona.
I do not like it with bullfights and Corona.
I prefer Burguete, and Bill G.
I prefer fishing and male company.
It's a relief from Parisian "gaiety."
And Pamplona, where you and Cohn act emotionally.
Bill G. and I can bond masculinely,
But you--I could not, cannot, Lady Ashley.

"A bullfight! A bullfight!"
"A bullfight! A bullfight!"
"Could you, would you, at a bullfight?"

Not at a bullfight! Not at tauromachy!
Brett! Lady Ashley! Let me be!

Not during fiesta! Not during siesta!
But Deus et natua non faciunt frusta.
Have you met my friend Romero?
Perhaps with him your love will grow.
Cohn may punch me and then Romero
But won't knock him down--Romero's a hero.
He's my idol, for he embodies the ethos
That you can create art in the face of violence and chaos.
So even if you ask me very prettily,
I could no--what? Romero's run away with Ashley?

"I'm in Madrid! Come get me quickly!"
"I left Romero--I won't be a bitch who raises children badly."
"It's for his own good--he's much better than me."
"But you and I could still be together peaceably."
"I still think we could be fab."
"Would you, could you, in the cab?"

I could not, cannot, in the cab.

"Would you, could you, in the rain?"

I could not, cannot, in the rain.

"It's sort of what we have instead of God."

Homines libenter quod....

"You do not want to make love to me?"

I could not, cannot, Lady Ashley.

"You will not do it."
"So you say."
"Try it! Try it!"
"And you may."
"Try it and you may, I say."

Lady Ashley! Let me be!
It's not possible, physically.
And it's not within my philosophy.
Let me explain and
You will see.

The world breaks everyone, you see.
Afterward, many are strong, like me.
But those too tough to break, it kills, truly.
It kills the very good, and the very gentle, and the very brave
If you are none of those, and even if you write like don marquis
You can be sure it will kill you, too, but without any special hurry.
And that's what you do--dying--finally.
You don't know what it's about, and you go ignorantly.
You get thrown in and when you're off base you die--surprisingly.
Like Aymo it can be gratuitously.
Or you can get syphilis like poor Rinaldi.
But they kill you in the end, eventually.
Stay around and they will kill you, I guarantee.
Our peers were broken or died in France and Germany
And those who didn't die developed moral bankruptcy.

One generation passeth away
And another generation comes this way.
The sun also rises--but it goeth down today.
So the guy who wrote Ecclesiastes would say.
Brett, you are my contemporary
The futility of romance with you makes me wary.
You, me, Cohn, Mike, we're tainted to the core.
Love is for a generation unspoiled by war.
The flower fades to make fruit, even if it's broken, badly.
So I could not, cannot, Lady Ashley.

"Oh, Jake, it would have been damned good, you and me."

To think so certainly is pretty.


Geisel and Hemingway collaborated on other projects--A Farewell to the Cat in the Hat, Across Mulberry Street and Into the Trees, For Whom the Lorax Tolls, The Garden of Gerald McBoing-Boing, and of course The Old Man and the Grinch--but I think this one is their best.

(for Erica)

1 comment:

fiduciary said...

Ohhhh - way too good. The partnership dissolved, no doubt, because the Doctor's sentences were too long.

And the Green Eggs and Ham Also Rises, of course.