A poem by Theodore Roethke -- apparently not included in his Collected
Poems or the later Words for the Wind -- is reprinted in
Joachim Remak's The Origins of World War I, 1871-1914, Berkshire
Studies in History (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967), p. [ii].
Remak's copyright page assigns the poem a 1963 date and credits it to
Steuben Glass). [I had not found the poem but, ten years after first
writing this note, I've been informed by Mr. Jeffrey Roberts of
Massachusetts that it appeared originally in a promotional volume for its
crystal sculptures published by Steuben Glass: Poetry in Crystal:
Interpretations in Crystal of Thirty-one New Poems by Contemporary
American Poets (New York: [Steuben Glass], 1963), p. 50. Annoyingly,
the volume has been just a few feet away from me during this entire
time.] Not well enough known, "The Victorians," as the poem is
entitled, depicts a world that, like the world depicted in works such as
Isabel Colegate's 1980 novel, The Shooting Party, would end (or be
transformed) quite suddenly after August of 1914, when, from some points
of view, the twentieth century, just as suddenly, began.
O the gondolets, the mandolins, the twanging of the
The girls all dressed in crinoline among the flowers and fruits
The flowers all symbolical, the lily and the rose,
And how the
sherry blossomed on the end of grandma's nose.
The maiden sighs and
turns away, the maiden she relents,
Attracted by the glitter of a pile
of five per cents.
They danced beneath the arbors, they strolled upon
O never aware, O never aware of what would come to
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