MEN AND BOYS: An anthology

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MEN AND BOYS: An Anthology, Edward M. Slocum, Ed., New York, 1924. Reprinted, with An Appreciation by T. d'Arch Smith and an Introduction by Donald H. Mader, by The Coltsfoot Press, Inc., 507 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10017, 1978, $18.00.

Original edition (1924)

The original edition has been located, and will be described further here at a later time.

One example of a poem from the book:

The Love of Boyhood.
The love of Boyhood lives; it never dies.
Deathless as Love’s own self, it gleams and shines
As an old votive lamp among the pines,
Aglow so long as stars smile in the skies!
A boon of dew, it falls where slumbering lies
The seed-bud of a thousand-flowered rose;
A breeze benign on arid earth it blows;
A cooling hand, it soothes the Scholar’s eyes.
Sweet'ner of Centuries, Egypt knew it, Rome
And Persia were thrilled by its day-dreams;
It broods e’en now by those two twin-like streams
Where Abu‘Nowas sung--where storied Dome
And ivied silence crown the Cyclades,
The eager heart still wakes to this Love’s cries!
Vincent Scariord.

It is hoped this volume can be presented here at BoyWiki in its entirety (if this editor has time to prepare it.)

Coltsfoot Press edition (1978)

From PAN magazine, No. 1, pp. 28-29

The Victorian-Edwardian era (in America the years of McKinley, Cleveland, Teddy Roosevelt) were an odd time for boy-lovers. On the one hand love, every kind of love, was immensely idealized; on the other hand its physical manifestations were held to be so abhorrent that most people knew very little about other people's tastes and other people's sexual practices. As a result, paedophiles, providing they did not otherwise bruise the law or offend local sensibilities, could operate in a vastly less suspicious climate than we do now; they could write idealized, lightly erotic poems which passed muster in an unsuspecting heterophile society. And, taking their cue from inhibited straights, some could even wallow in their platonic loves while reacting with virtuous horror to any suggestion that their passions be fulfilled through human coupling.

This curious collection of paedophile poetry seems to have been the first of its kind ever published in America. There are translations (surprisingly few) from the Greek poets, a few from the Roman and medieval writers, but the bulk of the collection is of English and American boy-love verse.

The editors of this new edition have done a lot of bibliographic sleuthing to discover the identity of the anthologist. It seems he was a chemical engineer by the name of Edward M. Slocum (1882-1946) who graduated from the university of Tennessee, obtained a doctorate from Columbia, spent much of his life in Malaysia and was a prolific writer – of such treatises as 'Synthesis of Some New Higher Aliphatic Glycols...' in The American Perfumer and Essential Oils Review! However meticulous he may have been in his scientific career, Slocum was a terrible scholar and committed in the present volume the unpardonable sins of altering poems in any way he liked – not emasculating verse that was a little too sexually explicit, but masculating some that wasn't sexy enough. He treated poetry with about the same cavalier disregard of ethics as, say, the Chicago Tribune or London's News of the World treats news.

Yet Men and Boys is enormously charming; its value doesn't rest entirely upon its historical interest. Roughly half of the poems are from the latter half of the 19th-century and the first quarter of the 20th. The earlier English poems are full of Greek gods and allusions; later the boys come down to earth somewhat and are seen swimming, doing things with flowers, sometimes even kissing. Most of them have golden hair: usually the hair is in curls. (Curiously – for many of these poets were clergymen – we hear little about choirboys: perhaps clergy knew better than anyone else that inside the angelic surplice you found just another grubby kid.) Of especial interest is the last 25 pages devoted to American boy-love verse. It may well be, as Smith maintains in his introduction, that there is little here of much artistic merit, but many of the poems have the ability to bring you sharply back to a former time and let you see boys through the eyes of boy-lovers of our grandfather's generation:

I like rumpled little boys,
With collars upstanding
And buttons missing;
Little boys with rough red cheeks
And freckled noses,
And restless hands
That are never still.
I like neat little boys
In Norfolk suits
With white collars and dotted Windsor ties
And slicked black hair, still wet,
And restless hands
That are never still.
I like little boys.

The new Coltsfoot Press edition reproduces the exact 1924 text of 83 pages but adds as many pages of commentary. The loose circle of American boy-love versifiers who exchanged letters, poems and experiences with each other during the quarter decade preceding publication is nicely described. Most of the writers themselves are identified and one is struck by the generally distinguished company we are in. The picture modern psychiatrists draw of boy-lovers as failed human beings is once again shown to be nothing more than social prejudice carried over into a supposedly scientific pursuit.

Notes

It's said to be the first American collection of BoyLove poems, a welcome respite from the tired old Greek poetry!

See also