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Mercedes de Acosta: playwright and novelist who also wrote of her Hollywood affairs with Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich

She was never afraid to flaunt her sexual proclivities

  • Unreality

  • Through the window-pane I see your face,
  • Its outline a little vague
  • In the dimness of the shadow.
  • But the whiteness of your skin
  • Is like a clean ship’s sail,  
  • Standing out in the darkness of a night.
  • And your eyes, I see them like two golden bowls,
  • With the rays of a thousand moonbeams sweeping over them.
  • As I pass out into the blackness,
  • I wonder if I have ever really known you—  
  • Or if you exist at all,
  • And are not but a twisted, fevered, silver creation of my brain.
  • And the unreality of you comes over me,
  • Like a mist upon a lonely sea. 
  • To Vouletti

  • There is not a leaf grown,
  • Not a breeze that’s blown,
  • Not a sweet fragrant tree,
  • That is not you to me.
  • In the sunlight I feel your smile,  
  • In the moonlight, the whole long while,
  • I feel the pressure of your hand,
  • And feeling this I understand.
  • I understand all sacred things,
  • The depths of life, the secret wings  
  • That carry beyond the dreary way,
  • Turning dark to light, and night to day.
  • All things fine, and straight, and true,
  • I know better because of you;
  • While your sweetness is like a warm fresh shower,  
  • And your face and soul like a sun-kissed flower.
  • Soiled Hands

  • After everyone had left,
  • It was always so wonderful sitting in the dark theatre with you.
  • There was a mystery about it,
  • As though the echo of many plays
  • Still lingered in the folds of the curtain,
  • While phantom figures crouched low in the chairs,
  • Beating applause with vapor hands.
  • Do you remember how we always sat silently?
  • I would shut my eyes to feel your closeness nearer.
  • Then slowly and like a ritual
  • I would take your hand,
  • And you would laugh a little and say,
  • “My hands are awfully sticky”—or
  • “I can’t seem to keep my hands clean in this theatre.”
  • As if that mattered … as if that mattered …
Mercedes de Acosta

Mercedes de Acosta (1893-1968) was an American poet, playwright and novelist, perhaps more famous for who she slept with than for what she wrote. Her output includes a dozen plays (only four of which were produced), a novel, and three books of poems. But if her work has fallen into obscurity, she remains a bright light in the tawdry affairs of Broadway and Hollywood actresses. Never afraid to flaunt her sexual proclivities as a time when such daring was nearly unheard of, de Acosta wrote in detail about her affairs later in life, including her two most famous Hollywood conquests, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich.

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  • Unreality

  • Through the window-pane I see your face,
  • Its outline a little vague
  • In the dimness of the shadow.
  • But the whiteness of your skin
  • Is like a clean ship’s sail,  
  • Standing out in the darkness of a night.
  • And your eyes, I see them like two golden bowls,
  • With the rays of a thousand moonbeams sweeping over them.
  • As I pass out into the blackness,
  • I wonder if I have ever really known you—  
  • Or if you exist at all,
  • And are not but a twisted, fevered, silver creation of my brain.
  • And the unreality of you comes over me,
  • Like a mist upon a lonely sea. 
  • To Vouletti

  • There is not a leaf grown,
  • Not a breeze that’s blown,
  • Not a sweet fragrant tree,
  • That is not you to me.
  • In the sunlight I feel your smile,  
  • In the moonlight, the whole long while,
  • I feel the pressure of your hand,
  • And feeling this I understand.
  • I understand all sacred things,
  • The depths of life, the secret wings  
  • That carry beyond the dreary way,
  • Turning dark to light, and night to day.
  • All things fine, and straight, and true,
  • I know better because of you;
  • While your sweetness is like a warm fresh shower,  
  • And your face and soul like a sun-kissed flower.
  • Soiled Hands

  • After everyone had left,
  • It was always so wonderful sitting in the dark theatre with you.
  • There was a mystery about it,
  • As though the echo of many plays
  • Still lingered in the folds of the curtain,
  • While phantom figures crouched low in the chairs,
  • Beating applause with vapor hands.
  • Do you remember how we always sat silently?
  • I would shut my eyes to feel your closeness nearer.
  • Then slowly and like a ritual
  • I would take your hand,
  • And you would laugh a little and say,
  • “My hands are awfully sticky”—or
  • “I can’t seem to keep my hands clean in this theatre.”
  • As if that mattered … as if that mattered …
Mercedes de Acosta

Mercedes de Acosta (1893-1968) was an American poet, playwright and novelist, perhaps more famous for who she slept with than for what she wrote. Her output includes a dozen plays (only four of which were produced), a novel, and three books of poems. But if her work has fallen into obscurity, she remains a bright light in the tawdry affairs of Broadway and Hollywood actresses. Never afraid to flaunt her sexual proclivities as a time when such daring was nearly unheard of, de Acosta wrote in detail about her affairs later in life, including her two most famous Hollywood conquests, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich.

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