Poems / To the poet Douglas Ainslie
To the poet Douglas Ainslie
When first you kissed my finger tips.
Although my heart was glad.
No answering smiles come to my lips.
Which drooped wan [?] and sad.
My mind would then the question ask
Why should this strange thing be?
Found the puzzling quite a task
But this it seemed to me
The kiss you gave my finger tips
Was envied by my amorous lips.
Published in Dillon, Millicent: After Egypt: Isadora Duncan and Mary Cassat. New York, Dutton, William
Abrahams, 1990.p. 208
Isadora sent the poem to Douglas Ainslie in a letter. In her autobiography she mentions that he fell in love with
her in England.
Articles / Isadora Duncan
letter published in an Athenian newpaper
I wanted to write to everybody who supported my work last winter, sincerely as to a good friend, because I feel that all of you who have helped in any way in this are my friends and we have some rapport. And for exactly this reason I wanted to reciprocate and come up to all your expectations.
The evening I left Berlin I promised I would come back in October to dance, and to dance more perfectly too. The excuse for my not doing this lies precisely in this search for greater perfection. I really want to do something better, and for this reason I am still in Athens forever trying. - Here in Athens, where about two thousand years ago lived a people, who recognised the beauty of the human body, the sanctity of harmony in form and movement, and who considered dance a science and a religion.
Dance is made up of two elements. Rhythm and form. Form is the melody and rhythm the basis of dance, and both are inseparable, since the rhythm corresponds to the form. How can I already unite these two elements in myself and enter into the programme I have to perform? We know the rhythm of ancient poetry and have some clues to ancient music. But how can we rediscover the rhythm of the ancients that, incorporated in the human body in movement, is called dance? What sources and help do we have for this?
As regards form we have endless sources in the ancient bas-reliefs and sculptural works, and even in the ruins of the temples and the lines of ancient architecture we can find living teachers and sure guides. But the rhythm? Has it been lost, perhaps? Surely it is not possible to find any trace of it?
No! This has been preserved too, however, since we have the old choruses as a key to finding it. The composition of the choruses in the ancient dramas contributes to the conveying of the poet's idea about the recitation, the music and the movements. And in the ancient bas-reliefs or statuettes the groups of dances are living, giving impressions of the movements of hands, head and body, dancing, as it were, something that is more important, the livelier side of the
The dance of the Greeks has not died. It is discovered after the passage of so many years, as the beauty of the human body itself has also stayed, restored, when it is free and vigorous, through the movements of the deeper meanings of an idea. This is the true dance, but it needs thorough work on composition in order to give back its noble harmonies to the world. I am working on this. And this is also the reason for the disruption of my programme. I am making an effort and am investigating the rhythm and form in the choruses of the "Suppliants" of Aeschylus:
Φρόντισον και γενού πανδίκως
ευσεβής πρόξενος ταν φυγάδα μη προδώς,
ταν έκαθεν εκβολαίς δυσθέοις ορμέναν
μηδ'ιδής μ'εξ εδράν πολυθέων
ρυσιασθείσαν, ώ παν κράτος έχων χθονός.
Μη τιτλής ταν ικέτιν εισιδείν
από βροτέων βία δίκας αγομέναν
πολυμίτων πέπλων τ'επιλαβάς εμών.
Am I wrong in saying that dance consists of these? I am taking pains and I will find out. It is of course very hard work for my weak powers, and I recall and appreciate the friendship and the encouragement you gave me recently in Berlin, especially on that evening when, leaving Berlin, I said that I wanted to return in October to dance better.
And this will happen.
Athens, 22nd November 1903
Letter from Athens to the editor of "Die Woche" in Berlin
Translated from the Greek by Christopher Copeman
Published in Raftis, Alkis: Isadora Duncan and the artists (in Greek with English
supplement). Athens, Way of Life Publications & Dora Stratou Theater, 2002, 222 p.