An explication of Mina Loy's poem "Lunar Baedeker".

2126 Words Oct 10th, 2003 9 Pages
When read top to bottom, Mina Loy's poem "Lunar Baedeker" may sound like a story of drugs, sex, and desperation. In reality, it is an encrypted biography of part of Loy's life, as well as symbolic of the cycles of life. Let's start with the title, shall we?

"Lunar Baedeker," the word 'lunar' means moon. It can also mean relating to the moon, but more importantly it can mean measured by the moon's cycles. What in the world is a "Baedeker" though? Baedeker is actually one Karl Baedeker, a German who, in 1859, published a series of guidebooks. Mina Loy's title, therefore, translates to either "a guide to the moon" or a " a guide to the moon's cycle or cycles."

The first stanza is very autobiographical; it refers to Loy's falling in love
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At the time that the poem was written, she was probably already dabbling in the art. The "Delirious Avenues" is a reference to her constantly searching blindly, with no clues, in every place or pathway her husband could be. The people who are a part of Cravan, Fabienne and Mina herself brighten the avenues; they are the "chandelier souls," branches, pieces of Cravan. The "Pharaoh's tombstone" indicates that Loy finally coming to terms with the fact that her husband is most likely dead.

The acceptance of the loss of Cravan comes in the next stanza: "lead/ to mercurial doomsdays/ Odious oasis/ in furrowed phosphorous" "Lead" can be interpreted in more than one-way. It can indicate that Loy was brought to a conclusion by the previous stanza, but it can also be defined as the first punch in a boxing match. This is important because Cravan was known as the "boxer poet" because he was really only a second rate poet and used prize fighting to supplement his income. "Mercurial" is a reference to Mercury, who is the Greek god of travel, cunning, and theft, and is also associated with swiftness. Mercury is also the second reference in the poem to a shiny, silver colored element; in this case it is a poisonous element. In keeping with Loy's celestial theme, Mercury is also the closest planet to the sun. Therefore, this doomsday, the loss of her husband, came swiftly, is like poison to her heart, and the heat of the planet Mercury can be paralleled to the fire
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