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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Sither That Wedge

Also Entitled: My Career in Romantic Briefs, (or should that be the other way around?)

Recently I attempted to take up a career in Romantic Poetry. There hasn't been a market for this sort of thing for 200 odd years, so with my typically incisive business acumen, I figured now would be just as bad a time as any to get in on it.
I sat down at my desk with a few quires of paper, a pen, my neighbour's fob watch, and a tumbler full of hock and soda water, without the hock. Soon I had written these lines:

There's a linnet
On the spinet
And an ostrich
In it.


I thought that was pretty good going, so I stopped there and inhaled my tumblerful of soda water, without the water. Then I went on:

In a minute
I'll play a minuet.

That seemed to me to be getting a little tedious, so I hastily contrived to turn it into an ode in which the spinet flew away and built a nest in a briar-bush, and the linnet was taken away to be turned into candlesticks. (As for the minute and the minuet, they could have one another, as far as I was concerned.)
Then I started again.

The Throstlecock sate upon the hedge
Besides the little purling rill.

This was rather trying stuff, and I pretty much had to mix myself a glass of Pymms-coloured cordial. (To get the timbre right, I added a firkinful of brown sugar). Following this, I wrote:

The Cockling Throst, it throsted into the night;
The hedge is hurling still.

I paused to wipe the sweat off my brow, and immediately enclosed a copy of this electrifying quatrain in a letter addressed to 'Sir Joseph Addison, The Spectator', asking for his standard publication fee of 1 pound, 10 shillings. (I still have not heard back from him.)

After a little more thought, I set myself the simple task of writing an ode, in 172 stanzas, to the Pipit (or to the Peewit, Tit, Booby, Wren, Starling, Finch, Pigeon, or Sparrow, if the Pipit wasn't available). I then intended to divide the ode up into as many sonnets as possible and sell them at a reduced price in the Queen Victoria Markets. There follows an excerpted passage, which just coincidentally happens to be all I got around to writing. (Excerpts have seldom been more generous.) I call it, provisionally,

Lines Written Upon My First Viewing Of Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey in Coburg Library

Naught on this earth is like unto the Pipit
To make my heart be full of joy and mirth,
Except it be the Peewit, Starling, Finch, Emu, Kiwi, Wren, or Peacock,
And creatures of a lesser girth.

Yea! There is in thee, o Pipit,
A hint of the sublime
That doth inhabit the eternal world,
And liv'st, in short (or should that be long?) for all time!
And doth presumably exceed
This, my poor rhyme.

Following this, I decided to give up my writing career in romantic poetry and take up a career in conceptual art, with an emphasis on the conceptual. From now on, you'll find me walking up and down Collins Street in the centre of Melbourne, wearing a shirt that says 'Jesus Is My Friend!' in an ironic fashion.

18 comments:

alexis said...

My favourite lines in the whole vast library of Romantic poetry are these, by Mr Coleridge, "Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs/ Upon the slimy sea." Never have slimy things been depicted more eloquently.

I like that business with the pipit you've got going on. Definite potential. You just need to throw in a slimy thing or two.

TimT said...

I have a fondness for Hogg - "Quhaire haif ye been, ye three auld womyn/These three lange nichtis fra hame?" A little more ornamental than that Coleridge line there.

This piece, incidentally, was inspired by your excellent post on Wordsworth's soul the other day.

alexis said...

Wordsworth would be delighted. The more talk about his big soul, the better.

Would you accept a commission? I'd like a ballad, in Scots English, about a ventriloquist.

TimT said...

I was actually thinking along the lines of a website written by Mr Hogg, rather like Geoffrey Chaucer's website. You know, TheHoggBlog.blogspot.com. Devoted to political matters.

John Howard - quhat is the aulde buggere up to, and quhain will the bastarde go? PLUSSE: Hard-hittinge analysis of what the Jacobites are up too now! Ye'll be absolootly sconnered!

alexis said...

An spiffing plun! Boot quhare wull ye get the knolege?

TimT said...

Well, there's this old dude with a long grey beard and glittering eye who swears that he'll tell me all about it if I shout him a drink. When? I asked him. All he said was Eftsoons.

Eftsoons? Eftsoons? You stupid old git, I'll show you Eftsoons! I cried from the window.

alexis said...

You want to watch out for those eftsoon types. If you're not careful, he'll start outraging your delicate young ears with filthy stories about albatrosses.

TimT said...

I knew the Albert Rosses back in my Boer War days. Maybe I should take the old chap up on that offer.

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