Sunday, November 05, 2006


Bee Palmer's Shoulders

Yesterday I quoted Keat's sonnet On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer. Franklin P. Adams wrote a parody of Keats, entitled On First Looking into Bee Palmer's Shoulders. Bee Palmer (1894-1967) was a jazz singer known as the Shimmy Queen.
On First Looking into Bee Palmer's Shoulders
["The World's Most Famous Shoulders"]

"Then I felt like some watcher of the skies
  When a new planet swims into his ken,
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
  He stared at the Pacific — and all his men
Looked at each other with a wild surmise —
  Silent upon a peak in Darien."

"BEE" PALMER has taken the raw human — all too human — stuff of the underworld, with its sighs of sadness and regret, its mad merriment, its swift blaze of passion, its turbulent dances, its outlaw music, its songs of the social bandit, and made a new art product of the theatre. She is to the sources of jazz and the blues what François Villon was to the wild life of Paris. Both have found exquisite blossoms of art in the sector of life most removed from the concert room and the boudoir, and their harvest has the vigour, the resolute life, the stimulating quality, the indelible impress of daredevil, care-free, do-as-you-please lives of the picturesque men and women who defy convention.
— From Keith's Press Agent.

Much have I travell'd in the realms of jazz,
And many goodly arms and shoulders seen
Quiver and Quake — if you know what I mean;
I've seen a lot, as everybody has.
Some plaudits got, while others got the razz.
But when I saw Bee Palmer, shimmy queen,
I shook — in sympathy — my troubled bean,
And said, "This is the utter razmatazz."

Then felt I like some patient with a pain
When a new surgeon swims into his ken,
Or like stout Brodie, when, with reeling brain,
He jumped into the river. There and then
I swayed and took the morning train
To Norwalk, Naugatuck, and Darien.
Steve Brodie (1863-1901) supposedly jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge into the East River. Naugatuck, Norwalk, and Darien are cities in Connecticut, stops on the commuter rail line.

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