My Redneck Bohemian Muse





Rena Victoria Easton and Ambrose Bierce have several things in common

1. They lived in a tent within the city limits of Oakland.
2. They befriended Bohemian types and love poetry.

In her letter Rena says she has committed a million poems to memory.
When I lost my beautiful young muse, I took one of those terrible inventories and came up with a List of Un-worthiness. At the top of the list was; “I was homeless, and we lived in a tent.”

When I heard Rena married a Commodore and lived on the Isle of Wight, I became even more ashamed of our white canvas abode, for surely Rena and Ian lived in one of those fine and ancient stone estates that had been in the family for years.

Our tent was Rena’s first home. She lived in tent with a beautiful young man. One of the best memories I own is chugging up to the top of our mountain in our 1950 Dodge Coronet with Rena beside me. Sometimes I would glance at her in order to snap a picture with my mind. We are silent, intent on becoming expert at shifting the gears just so as we went around hairpin curves.

We had swam at Monte Rio Beach all day, and we had groceries in car. I did all the cooking and driving. Taking care of Rena was an art. When we went to our beach on the coast above Jenner, we were in Eden. There was ever anyone there but us. We climbed over a wooden staircase built over the barbed wire in order to keep the sheep off the highway. To walk behind Rena and see the sheep part, was to be in another country.

Here is a poem by Ambrose who was George Sterling’s mentor. They lived in tent on the shore of Lake Temescal where the Presco Children would go swimming. Here one could find famous Plein Air Artists rendering landscapes outside their tents. If it was Rena’s ambition to fall in with the Bohemians when she left Nebraska, then, she did well for herself.

Bohemians and Rednecks don’t take too kindly to big government and big city life. Rena, loves men, in spite of being abused by her father.

The picture that my muse gave me of she leaving her humble abode to walk her dogs in the snow while sonnets parade by in her head reminds me of Bradbury’s novel ‘Farenhiet 451′. Rena holds pictures of the truth. The Muse of Poetry fill her mind and heart with landscapes that very few people care to tread. When one dwells in that world, one needs so very little in this world.

Jon Presco

My country ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of felony,
Of thee I sing–
Land where my fathers fried
Young witches and applied
Whips to the Quaker’s hide
And made him spring.

My knavish country, thee,
Land where the thief is free,
Thy laws I love;
I love thy thieving bills
That tap the people’s tills;
I love thy mob whose will’s
All laws above.

Let Federal employees
And rings rob all they please
The whole year long.
Let office-holders make
Their piles and judges rake
Our coin. For Jesus’ sake,
Let’s all go wrong!

“Will Bohemia arise in Oakland,” was the question asked in an article in the Oakland Tribune on April 22, 1917. The reporter told of the formation of an artist’s club of the East Bay with a membership of more than 30 painters, sculptors and art students including Selden Gile, William H. Clapp and William A. Gaw (1891-1973). Many of the things that made the area seem so desirable to “The Six” were mentioned in that review, such as the picturesque waterfront and the sunny rolling hills above the Bay. Oakland was depicted as “…a Bohemia where kindred spirits meet with art and the great adventures that stimulate art to color its atmosphere.”

For almost 10 years, 1917 to 1927, until Selden Gile moved to Belvedere,[2] his cabin on Chabot Road in Oakland was the weekly meeting place for “The Six.” The “Chow House,” as it was called, had electricity but no toilet or bath.[3] What the accommodations lacked in convenience was more than made up for by the heated art discussions and garlic-laced meals that Gile, the generous host, provided. He frequently offered a formidable home-brewed beer to wash down his famous meals and, occasionally, the proceedings were enlivened by the bottles exploding. In addition to the beer, they fortified their meetings with at least two gallons of “dago red” wine which were delivered to Gile every week by an Italian bootlegger friend.[4] Occasionally, von Eichman showed up with his “San Jose Cheer,” a prune whiskey that helped to lubricate their discussions.[5] Clapp, the sedate curator, was dubbed “Ho-Ho-Ho” by Gile because that was Clapp’s usual exclamation when he arrived at their meetings. He was considered to be the gentleman of the crowd.[6] As Siegriest recalls, “Clapp was a very quiet sort of fellow, polite and quiet.” He also remembers with discomfort, “the way these guys would talk in front of him…he looked embarrassed but he would join in.”[7] “The Six” friends rarely missed a Saturday or Sunday evening get-together at Selden Gile’s place..[8]

William Clapp was the only member of the group who had received formal instruction in France.[9] Born in Canada, in 1879, but reared in Oakland, Clapp returned to Canada, in 1900. He studied there and at the Académie Julian in Paris under Jean-Paul Laurens, as well as the Académie Colarossi and at the Ecole de la Grande Chaumière. Before returning permanently to live in Oakland, about 1917, Clapp had been considered a radical painter in Montreal. In fact his studies in Europe and Paris, and his later familiarity with the modernist Canadian “Group of Seven” who showed for the first time together in Toronto in 1920, contributed immensely to “The Six’s” cohesiveness. Not coincidentally, “The Six” had initially been called “The Group of Six,” undoubtedly prompted by Clapp’s knowledge of the Canadian painters.[10] His previous studies in Paris and Montreal had acquainted him with an attitude that considered manifestos and closely-knit groups to be essentially supportive of art. An Oakland Tribune critic finally named the Oakland-based group of artists “The Society of Six,” perhaps cribbing the title from a contemporary group of vanguard French musicians led by Eric Satie, “Les Six,” who had been in the news as musical innovators.[11] In 1923, Clapp initiated a policy of annual shows for “The Society of Six” as part of a progressive exhibition program in the Oakland Art Gallery.

In 1889, J.H.E. Partington, along with his wife and children, left England for Oakland, where he set up a tent on the banks of Lake Temescal. Two years later, he founded an art school in San Francisco. His brick-and-mortar home would later serve as a social place for Jack London, Ambrose Bierce, and George Sterling.

Bierce had no fear of the dead folk and their marble city. From occasional strollings by night in Laurel Hill Cemetery, in San Francisco, his spirit “drank repose,” and was able to attain a serenity in which the cares of daytime existence faded to nothingness. It was on one of those strolls that he elected to lie for awhile in the moonlight on a flat tombstone, and awakening late in the night, found himself thoroughly chilled, and a subsequent victim of the diseasexxxvi that was to cast so dark a shadow over his following years. For his sufferings from asthma were terrible, arising often to a height that required that he be put under the influence of chloroform.

So afflicted, he found visits to the lowlands a thing not to be indulged in with impunity. For many years such trips terminated invariably in a severe attack of his ailment, and he was driven back to his heights shaken and harassed. But he found such visits both necessary and pleasant on occasion, and it was during one that he made in the summer of 1892 that I first made his acquaintance, while he was temporarily a guest at his brother Albert’s camp on a rocky, laurel-covered knoll on the eastern shore of Lake Temescal, a spot now crossed by the tracks of the Oakland, Antioch and Eastern Railway.

I am not likely to forget his first night among us. A tent being, for his ailment, insufficiently ventilated, he decided to sleep by the campfire, and I, carried away by my youthful hero-worship, must partially gratify it by occupying the side of the fire opposite to him. I had a comfortable cot in my tent, and was unaccustomed at the time to sleeping on the ground, the consequence being that I awoke at least every half-hour. But awake as often as I might, always I found Bierce lying on his back in the dim light of the embers, his gaze fixed on the stars of the zenith. I shall not forget the gaze of those eyes, the most piercingly blue, under yellow shaggy brows, that I have ever seen.

1. George Sterling The Black Vulture
2. George Sterling The black vulture written by the great poet George sterling . Born in Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York in 1869, George Sterling came from an old and respected family descended from the Puritans. His father wanted him to become a priest, so George at age 17 was sent to a Catholic college in Maryland. Fortunately, his studies included poetry — and the priesthood’s loss was literature’s gain. The father sent the wayward son to Oakland, California San Francisco where the uncle — Frank C. Havens — was a leading real estate and insurance agent in the area. Here Sterling obtained an office job — little more than a sinecure that allowed him to continue reading and writing poetry.
3. Since he felt of little resurrection from where he brought up, he saw that San Francisco is a place more opened to many things and through the Bohemian club he was able to express himself in very new way he liked. He had a love of liberty and freedom, dislike for a master, and would not be driven .

4. The Bohemian While he was there in San Francisco , appears the bohemian lifestyle , By 1872, when a group of journalists and artists who gathered regularly for cultural pursuits in San Francisco were casting about for a name, the term Bohemian became the main choice, and the Bohemian Club was born.[9] Club members who were established and successful, pillars of their community, respectable family men, redefined their own form of bohemianism to include people like them who were bons vivants, sportsmen, and appreciators of the fine arts
5. George Sterling responded to this redefinition: Any good mixer of convivial habits considers he has a right to be called a Bohemian. But that is not a valid claim. There are two elements, at least, that are essential to Bohemianism. The first is devotion or addiction to one or more of the Seven Arts; the other is poverty. Other factors suggest themselves: for instance, I like to think of my Bohemians as young, as radical in their outlook on art and life; as unconventional, and, though this is debatable, as dwellers in a city large enough to have the somewhat cruel atmosphere of all great cities.

6. Bohemian poets They found inspiration in machines, speed, noise, confusion, film, vaudeville, circus, jazz – everything new and popular. They openly ridiculed the upper class art establishment. They encouraged each other to find new ways to portray the world around them, to challenge all their traditional assumptions about art, life and even perception itself.

7. In 1892, Sterling met the dominant literary figure on the west coast, Ambrose Bierce which at Lake Temescal and immediately fell under his spell. Bierce – to whom Sterling referred as “the Master” — guided the young poet in his writing as well as in his reading, pointing to the classics as model and inspiration. Bierce also published Sterling’s first poems in his “Prattle” column in the San Francisco Examiner Sterling’s poetry is both visionary and mystical and harked back to what he had been taught by Bierce, and, with its emphasis upon exotic romanticism and rhythmical regularity, and his work covered a broad set of themes and philosophies – from the romantic, in the tradition of Shelley and Keats, to the morbid gloom of Poe passing through the mystical and fantastic on the way
8. The Black Vulture By George Sterling
9. As you know Sterling was influenced by the Romantic poets as Shelly and Keats and how they use nature as a tool to express their feelings and ideas , so in this poem, The Black Vulture is a naturepoem pure and simple , Sterling in this poem symbolizes death as a vulture , he saw this bird in Santa Lucia mountains , he was inspired by nature and birds , he also mention the Sierra Madre Mountains in northern Santa Barbara County, California “Where cold sierras gleam like scattered foam.” Because he was also the king of Bohemian poets, and the concept of their poetry is portray the world around them, he was able to portray of the all-destroying power of Death in this poem

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (June 24, 1842[2] – January 11, 1914[1]) was an American editorialist, journalist, short story writer, fabulist, and satirist. He wrote the short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and compiled a satirical lexicon The Devil’s Dictionary. His vehemence as a critic, his motto “Nothing matters”, and the sardonic view of human nature that informed his work, all earned him the nickname “Bitter Bierce”.[3]
Despite his reputation as a searing critic, Bierce was known to encourage younger writers, including poet George Sterling and fiction writer W. C. Morrow. Bierce employed a distinctive style of writing, especially in his stories. His style often embraces an abrupt beginning, dark imagery, vague references to time, limited descriptions, impossible events and the theme of war.

Bierce was considered a master of pure English by his contemporaries, and virtually everything that came from his pen was notable for its judicious wording and economy of style. He wrote in a variety of literary genres.
His short stories are held among the best of the 19th century, providing a popular following based on his roots. He wrote realistically of the terrible things he had seen in the war in such stories as “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, “The Boarded Window”, “Killed at Resaca”, and “Chickamauga”.
In addition to his ghost and war stories, he also published several volumes of poetry. His Fantastic Fables anticipated the ironic style of grotesquerie that became a more common genre in the 20th century.
One of Bierce’s most famous works is his much-quoted book, The Devil’s Dictionary, originally an occasional newspaper item which was first published in book form in 1906 as The Cynic’s Word Book. It consists of satirical definitions of English words which lampoon cant and political double-talk.
Under the entry “leonine”, meaning a single line of poetry with an internal rhyming scheme, he included an apocryphal couplet written by the fictitious “Bella Peeler Silcox” (i.e. Ella Wheeler Wilcox) in which an internal rhyme is achieved in both lines only by mispronouncing the rhyming words:
The electric light invades the dunnest deep of Hades.
Cries Pluto, ‘twixt his snores: “O tempora! O mores!

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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