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Upon Reading Gertruce Stein

October 18, 2018

Upon Reading Gertrude Stein

A Sillier Than Silly Rhyme


A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose

What does that mean, do you suppose?

I asked Picasso, a friend of Stein’s

In between cubes when he replied—

“I need a model and care not for a rose

Would you mind taking off your clothes?”


“Well, I need an answer, and I need my clothes

If you don’t, who knows what is a rose is a rose?”


I inquired of Hemingway, a peer of Stein’s

In their early Paris days of roses and wines


Ernest said, “It’s all bull, and speaking of bulls,

I’m off to the corrida de toros

I haven‘t got time for roses is roses.“   


Matisse, Juan Gris, Apollinaire

About roses they did not care


“Four Saints In Three Acts“

V. Thomson was composing

Not a moment could he spare

For rose is a rose-ing


But surely Alice Toklas knows

About the rose being a rose 

Claimed Alice— “I’ve lived with Gertrude forever and a day.

And that genius, tender buttons, doesn’t have to say.“ 


At 27 rue de Fleurus, art and genius reside.

‘It would follow,’ thought I, ‘Ezra would be welcome inside.’

“On no,” Pound said. “Though I admired her straw hat

Once, I plunked on her chair, I smashed it flat.

Thus, was I banished just like that.”


And James Joyce, of “Ulysses” fame

To Gertrude, you must never mention his name

Sylvia Beach: she published both Joyce and Pound

Gertrude didn’t want Sylvia around


Well, this rose is a rose

is a rose, is a rose is a rose

Has my thoughts quite jarred

No one left to consult but the Bard


To go back all those years

I steer and I veer

Through séances, crystal balls

Smoke and mirrors

At last, here is Shakespeare, 

He is coming in clear

Directing “Hamlet” when he proposed

“Gertrude’s rose has been, is always

A rose, is a rose, is a rose, is a rose”


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