Excerpt from “Our Poets of Today” by Howard Willard Cook, 1919

Benjamin De Casseres

The New York World Magazine at one time printed an article by Henry Tyrell with the heading something like this : “Poems of a Shadow-Eater—De Casseres, Psalmist of Night and Nietzscheism, Lives Unknown in New York and Writes Like Poe, Whitman, Baudelaire and King David, While Railing at the Metropolis as ‘A City Whose Splendor Is in the Dazzling Glitter of All That Is Monstrous and Soulless.’ ” And this is an excellent approach to the work of Benjamin De Casseres. His much commented upon “De Profundis” runs :

Night! Night Eternal Night, whose black vapors have filled all the sluice-ways of
Time—Night, pageless and void;
Night upgurgling from chaos, upswirl of the noumenal seas, drape me and veil me from the illusory light of this world!
My being’s at nadir,
I pass into my solstice,
I have touched of ITS garment, the black thing IT weaves on ITS sentient looms,
While we crawl in ITS creases and guess.
Sit I in the night of ITS sleeve,
Withering into eternities,
Bowed in ITS night, in ITS might!

Benjamin de Casseres was born in Philadelphia, forty years ago, of Spanish-Hebrew parents, through whom he traces his lineal descent from the 17th century Jewish philosopher, Spinoza. Not Spinoza, however, but Nietzsche is his psychic godfather, and, needless to say, Benjamin de Casseres is a born radical. He is a master of many languages, and a deep student of art, specializing on the archaeological remains of the ancient Aztecs.

Leave a Reply