Gertrude Stein

November 29, 2006


Born to a German-Jewish immigrant family in Allegheny, Pennsylvania
Youngest of seven children
By the time she was 17, both of her parents were dead
Became the favorite student of William James while at Harvard: supposedly Stein wrote on an exam, “I’m sorry Professor James, I do not feel like taking an exam today” and James wrote on the top, “I understand perfectly. A.”
One of the first women to be admitted to John Hopkins medical school but just before graduating she lost interest in medicine (my book says because of an unhappy love affair with another woman, although I don’t see a connection)
Left with her brother Leo for Paris and began to build on eof the most remarkable and forward-looking art collections of the time
By 1910 Leo moved out and Alice B. Toklas moved in: Toklas was Stein’s devoted companion and lover for the rest of her life
Stein devoted herself to what she called ‘portraits’ prose poems about friends and artists
Wrote more conventional looking oems years before WWI
During WWI, Stein and Toklas labored as volunteers for relief to the troops and became famous for their literary salon
Became a well-known celebrity and spoke to sold-out auditoriums across the nation: had tea with Eleanor Roosevelt in the White House
Headed south when France fell to the Nazis in 1940 because both were in jeopardy of being transported to death camps
Died in 1946 of cancer
Before she was wheeled into the operation from which she never recovered consciousness she whispered to Toklas

“What is the answer?”
When Toklas was unable to respond, Stein smilingly asked
“In that case, what is the question?”


What Do I See.

A very little snail. / A medium sized turkey. / A small band of sheep. / A fair orange tree. / All nice wives are like that. / Listen to them from here. / Oh. / You did not have to answer. / Here. / Yes.

Why Do You Feel Differently.

Why do you feel differently about a very little snail and a big one. / Why do you feel differently about a medium sized turkey and a very large one. / Why do you feel differently about a small band of sheep and several sheep that are riding. / Why do you feel differently about a fair orange tree and one that has blossoms as well. / Oh very well. All nice wives are like that.
To Be / No Please. / To Be / They can please / Not to be / Do they please. / Not to be / Do they not please / Yes please. / Do they please / No please. / Please. / If you please. / And if you please. / And if they please. / And they please. / To be pleased. / Not to be pleased. / Not to be dispelased. / To be pleased and to please.

Bundles For Them.
A History of Giving Bundles.

We were able to notice that each one in a way carried a bundle, they were not a trouble to them nor were they all bundles as some of them were chickens some of them pheasants some of them sheep and some of them bundles, they were not a trouble to them and then indeed we learned that it was the principal recreation and they were so arranged that they were not given away, and to-day they were given away.
I will not look at them again. / They will not look for them again. / They have not seen them here again. / They are in there and we hear them again. / In which way are stars brighter than they are. When we have collie to this decision. We mention many thousands of buds. And whne I close my eyes I see them. / If you hear her snore / It is not before you love her / You love her so that to be her beau is very lovely / She is sweetly there and her curly hair is very lovely / She is sweetly here and I am very near and that is very lovely. / She is my tender sweet and her little feet are stretched out well which is a treat and very lovely / Her little tender nose is between her little eyes which close and are very lovely / She is very lovely and mine which is very lovely.

Let Us Describe

Let us describe how they went. It was a very windy night and the road although in excellent condition and extremely well graded has many turnings and although the curves are not sharp the rise is considerable. It was a very windy night and some of the larger vehicles found it more prudent not to venture. In consequence some of those who had planned to go were unable to do so. Many others did go and there was a sacrifice, of what shall we, a sheep, a hen, a cock, a village, a ruin, and all that and then that having been blessed let us bless it.

-Idem the Same

Idem is Latin for “the same”
The poem is a dual valentine intended for Toklas and their good friend Sherwood Anderson

A carafe, that is a blind glass.
A kind in glass and a cousin, a spectacle and nothing strange a single hurt col.or and an arrangement in a system to pointing. All this and not ordinary, not unordered in not resembling. The difference is spreading.

A box.
Out of kindness comes redness and out of rudeness comes rapid same question, out of an eye comes research, out of selection comes painful cattle. So then the order is that a white way of being round is something suggesting a pin and is it disappointing, it is not, it is so rudimentary to be analyzed and see a fine substance strangely, it is so earnest to have a green point not to red but to point again.

A long dress.
What is the current that makes machinery, that makes it crackle, what is the current that presents a long line and a necessary waits. What is this current.
What is the wind, what is it.
Where is the serene length, it is there and a dark place is not a dark place, only a white and red are black, only a yellow and green are blue, a pink is scarlet, a bow is every color. A line distinguishes it. A line just distinguishes it.

A white hunter.
A white hunter is nearly crazy.


Custard is this. It has aches, aches when. Not to be. Not to be narrowly.
This makes a whole little hill.
It is better than a little thing that has mellow real mellow. It is better than lakes whole lakes, it is better than seeding.

Asparagus in a lean in a lean to hot. This makes it art and it is wet wet weather wet weather wet.

Orange in.
Go lack go lack use to her.
Cocoa and clear soup and oranges and oat-meal.
Whist bottom whist close, whist clothes, woodling.
Cocoa and clear soup and oranges and oat-meal.
Pain soup, suppose it is question, suppose it is butter, real is, real is only, only excreate, only excreate a no since.
A no, a no since, a no since when, a no since when since, a no since when since a no since when since, a no since, a no since when since, a no since, a no, a no since a no since, a no since, a no since.


-Tender Buttons

Tender Buttons is a sequence of interrelated poems which evokes an enigmatic but mostly happy domestic world of objects, food, and rooms


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