Saturday, September 17, 2005

National Poetry Week: 6 [Language alert!]

And let's not forget the light-hearted verse! I could spend pages on this, from Lear to Belloc to Suess, and everyone inbetween and thereafter. but I shall restrain myself to some small examples of the innocent, and a fine representative of the bawdy.

This one's for Harry:

Down the stream the swans all glide;
It's quite the cheapest way to ride.
Their legs get wet,
Their tummies wetter:
I think after all
The bus is better.

Spike Milligan

Here's another one:

The halibut is the nicest fish;
He lets me do just what I wish.
Whenever I'm stuck in a rut,
I do things for the halibut.

Caren Florance

And this is a filthy little number attributed to John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, from the 1600s.


I rise at Eleven, I Dine about Two,
I get drunk before Seven, and the next thing I do;
I send for my Whore, when for fear of a Clap,
I Spend in her hand, and I Spew in her Lap:
There we quarrel, and scold, till I fall asleep,
When the Bitch, growing bold, to my Pocket does creep;
Then slyly she leaves me, and to revenge th'affront,
At once she bereaves me of Money, and Cunt.
If by chance then I wake, hot-headed and drunk,
What a coyle do I make for the loss of my Punck?
I storm, and I roar, and I fall in a rage,
And missing my Whore, I bugger my Page:
Then crop-sick, all Morning, I rail at my Men,
And in Bed I lye Yawning, till Eleven again.

from The Works of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, ed. by Harold Love (London: OUP: 1999)

Charming, ne pensez-vous pas?? This is a man who allegedly wrote a play called Sodom and Gomorrah, populated by such characters as Buggeranthes, Bolloxinian, and Fuckadilla, which has (surprise, surprise) never been staged. Phew! I was the typesetter for this scholarly edition of his works, and it was the most entertaining 8 months of my life. Imagine the above printed with lots of ligatures, and long 'f's and those lovely 'st' characters with the stroke inbetween. Mmmm....

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