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On His Queerness -- Christopher Isherwood

Winding up the theme, a third guest poem submitted by Vikram Doctor:
(Poem #704) On His Queerness
 When I was young and wanted to see the sights,
 They told me: 'Cast an eye over the Roman Camp
 If you care to.
 But plan to spend most of your day at the Aquarium -
 Because, after all, the Aquarium -
 Well, I mean to say, the Aquarium -
 Till you've seen the Aquarium you ain't seen nothing.'

 So I cast my eye over
 The Roman Camp -
 And that old Roman Camp,
 That old, old Roman Camp
 Got me
 Interested.

 So that now, near closing-time,
 I find that I still know nothing -
 And am still not even sorry that I know nothing -
 About fish.
-- Christopher Isherwood
This sort of carries on and updates the Roman ruin link to today - but in a
very different way! Not the best of poems, and Isherwood isn't really a
poet. But in a way I like the poem for capturing that cool, ironic gaze on
life that Isherwood made so much his own in books like 'Goodbye To Berlin'.

Vikram.

[Biography]

        b. Aug. 26, 1904, High Lane, Cheshire, Eng.
        d. Jan. 4, 1986, Santa Monica, Calif., U.S.

CHRISTOPHER WILLIAM BRADSHAW-ISHERWOOD, Anglo-American novelist and
playwright best known for his novels about Berlin in the early 1930s.

After working as a secretary and a private tutor, Isherwood gained a measure
of coterie recognition with his first two novels, All the Conspirators
(1928) and The Memorial (1932). During the 1930s he collaborated with his
friend W.H. Auden on three verse dramas, including The Ascent of F6 (1936).
But it had been in 1929 that he found the theme that was to make him widely
known. Between 1929 and 1933 he lived in Berlin, gaining an outsider's view
of the simultaneous decay of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazism. His
novels Mr. Norris Changes Trains (1935; The Last of Mr. Norris) and Goodbye
to Berlin (1939), which were later published together as The Berlin Stories,
established his reputation as an important writer and inspired the play I Am
a Camera (1951; film 1955) and the musical Cabaret (1966; film 1972). These
books are detached but humorous studies of dubious characters leading seedy
expatriate lives in the German capital. In 1938 Isherwood published Lions
and Shadows, an amusing and sensitive account of his early life and
friendships while a student at the University of Cambridge.

The coming of World War II saw not merely a change of outlook in Isherwood's
writing but also a permanent change of domicile. He immigrated to the United
States in 1939 and settled in southern California, where he taught and wrote
for Hollywood films. He was naturalized in 1946. It was also in 1939 that
Isherwood turned to pacifism and the self-abnegation of Indian Vedanta,
becoming a follower of Swami Prabhavananda. In the following decades,
Isherwood produced several works on Vedanta and translations with
Prabhavananda, including one of the Bhagavadgita.

Isherwood's postwar novels continued to demonstrate his personal style of
fictional autobiography. A Single Man (1964), a brief but highly regarded
novel, presents a single day in the life of a lonely, middle-aged
homosexual. His avowedly autobiographical works include a self-revealing
memoir of his parents, Kathleen and Frank (1971); a retrospective biography
of himself in the 1930s, Christopher and His Kind (1977); and a study of his
relationship with Prabhavananda and Vedanta, My Guru and His Disciple
(1980).

From 1953 on, Isherwood lived with a companion, Don Bachardy, a painter and
portraitist, and both later became involved in homosexual-rights causes.

        -- EB

[Minstrels Links]

As Vikram remarks, Isherwood isn't really a poet; nevertheless, he is
perhaps most remembered for his long association with someone who was,
namely, W. H. Auden. Interestingly enough, Auden also wrote several poems
about ancient Rome (and the shadow it casts upon modern European culture);
check out Poem #491, "Roman Wall Blues", and Poem #494, "The Fall of Rome".

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