poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Alfred Kreymborg was born on December 10, 1883, in New York City. The son of a cigar-store owner, he attended public school in Manhattan and became a chess phenomenon by the age of ten. Along with chess, he was very interested in music, and his desire to compose eventually led him to writing.

He began writing poetry in his late teens and soon became an active figure in the Greenwich Village literary circles. The first writer to be involved with Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 gallery, he joined forces with the avant-garde photographer Man Ray in 1913 to create The Glebe, a Modernist journal that published writers such as H. D., Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams. When Man Ray started an artist’s colony in Ridgefield, New Jersey, that same year, Kreymborg joined. From Ridgefield, he founded Others: A Magazine of the New Verse with Skipwith Cannell, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams in 1915.

Also in 1915, Guido Bruno published Kreymborg’s first work, Edna: The Girl of the Street (Bruno’s Weekly), a fictional account of an encounter with a prostitute. This publication led to Bruno’s arrest on obscenity charges and attracted wider literary attention for Kreymborg.

His first book of poetry, Mushrooms: A Book of Free Forms (John Marshall, 1916), established him as one of the early adopters of free verse. He went on to author over a dozen more poetry collections, including The Selected Poems, 1912­–1944 (E. P. Dutton, 1945) and No More War and Other Poems (Bookman Associates, 1950). In addition, he published an autobiography, Troubadour (Boni and Liveright, 1925), as well as several puppet and radio plays, most famously Lima Beans (S. French, 1925).  He also wrote Our Singing Strength: An Outline of American Poetry, 1620-1930 (Coward-McCann, 1929), a history of American poetry that provides valuable insight into the Modernist circles.

Kreymborg also edited the prominent Modernist magazine Broom, An International Magazine of the Arts and founded the anthology series American Caravan with Paul Rosenfeld. He died on August 14, 1966.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
No More War and Other Poems (Bookman Associates, 1950)
The Selected Poems, 1912–1944 (E. P. Dutton, 1945)
Mushrooms: A Book of Free Forms (John Marshall, 1916)

Prose
Troubadour (Boni and Liveright, 1925)
Our Singing Strength: An Outline of American Poetry, 16201930 (Coward-McCann, 1929)

Under Glass

If I could catch that moth,
that fluttering, wayward thing
that beats about inside me all the day and half the night,
(and insignificant net could certainly do it)
I’d stick him through the head
with a pin that’s long and thing,
a pin that long and strong enough to mount him under glass;
(an insignificant pin could certainly do it)
I’d learn of him once for all,
the color of his wings,
the nature of those crazy things that fooled me all these years:
purple, red or blue,
yellow, white or black,
and whether they’re one and all of these and a shade or two besides;
(an insignificant harmony or dissonance they could be)
I’d learn them once for all,
I’d know them, every vein,
so clear to all my neighbors, so invisible – to me.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Alfred Kreymborg

Alfred Kreymborg

Alfred Kreymborg was born on December 10, 1883, in New York City.

by this poet

poem

The pantaloons are dancing,
dancing, through the night,
pure white pantaloons,
underneath the moon,
on a jolly wash line,
skipping from my room,
over to Miranda,
who washed them this noon.

poem

Ladislaw the critic
is five feet six inches high,
which means
that his eyes
are five feet two inches
from the ground,
which means,
if you read him your poem,
and his eyes lift to five feet
and a trifle more than two inches,
what you have done
is Poetry—

poem

It is best now
to give suffering its way with me,
like a sea with a stone,
and let the spray which is others' joy—
the spray dancing on those
I bumped against
while bounding and tumbling and rolling here—
give me content.

Suffering
carves smoothness
which cannot