An explication of Mina Loy's poem "Lunar Baedeker".

Essay by LikwydSylvrUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, October 2003

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When read top to bottom, Mina Loy's poem "Lunar Baedeker" may sound like a story of drugs, sex, and desperation. In reality, it is an encrypted biography of part of Loy's life, as well as symbolic of the cycles of life. Let's start with the title, shall we?

"Lunar Baedeker," the word 'lunar' means moon. It can also mean relating to the moon, but more importantly it can mean measured by the moon's cycles. What in the world is a "Baedeker" though? Baedeker is actually one Karl Baedeker, a German who, in 1859, published a series of guidebooks. Mina Loy's title, therefore, translates to either "a guide to the moon" or a " a guide to the moon's cycle or cycles."

The first stanza is very autobiographical; it refers to Loy's falling in love with her second husband, Fabien Avernarius Lloyd, also known as Arthur Cravan. "A silver Lucifer/ serves/ cocaine in cornucopia" Silver here can be read as a shiny, white color, or highly persuasive, or a metal that has the highest thermal and electrical conductivity.

Lucifer can mean a fallen rebel or a fallen star. If you read 'Lucifer' as 'star' it fits in well with Loy's celestial theme, but it is better construed as a fallen rebel, because Loy's second husband, Cravan, was constantly on the run for being a draft dodger. The fact that he was silver describes him as beautiful, pure, and persuasive. The fact that silver has the highest thermal and electrical conductivity says that he had a lot of sex appeal and "sparks flew" between him and the poet. Cocaine is a highly addictive substance that causes euphoric effect. The fact that it is "served . . . in cornucopia" makes Loy sound very much like a young girl who...