Harry Graham: Plagues at the Play
»Last night even the postprandial conversation of some well-dressed members of the audience failed to neutralise the effort of the music, though they did their best.« - The Times
»Well-dressed,« and well-fed, and well-meaning (God knows!),
They arrive when the play is half ended;
As they pass to their stalls, through the tightly-packed rows,
They beruffle your hair and they tread on your toes,
Quite unconscious of having offended!
Then they argue a bit as to how they shall sit,
And uncloak in a leisurely fashion,
While they act as a blind to the people behind
Who grow perfectly purple with passion;
Till at last, by the time they are seated and settled,
Their neighbours all round them are thoroughly nettled!
A programme, of course, they've forgotten to buy
(This in audible accents they mention),
And whenever some distant attendant they spy,
They halloo or give vent to remarks such as »Hi!«
In attempts to attract her attention.
After this (which is worse) they will loudly converse,
And enjoy a good gossip together
On the clothes they have bought and the colds they have caught,
On the state of the crops and the weather,
Till they leave, in the midst of some tense »situation,«
That's spoilt by their flow of inane conversation.
O managers, pray, am I asking too much
If I beg that these »persons of leisure«
Be kept in a sound-proof and separate hutch,
If their nightly theatrical manners are such
As to spoil other playgoers' pleasure?
For it can't be denied that a playhouse supplied
With a cage for such talkative parrots,
Or a series of stalls (of the kind that have walls
And some hay and a couple of carrots)
Would bestow on the public a boon and a blessing
And deal with an evil in need of redressing!
Sonntag, 27. November 2016
Theaterbesucherkritik aus »The Motley Muse« (1913):
Sonntag, 20. November 2016
In »At the Cinema« aus »The World we laugh in« (1924) beschreibt Harry Graham den Kinobesuch in Zeiten des Stummfilms und gibt einige noch heute bedenkenswerte Ratschläge:
Harry Graham: At the Cinema
I love »The Pictures,« I admit;
'Tis pleasant in the dark to sit
And watch those phantom figures flit
Across the screen before you!
For films are things that entertain
Without imposing any strain
Upon the intellect or brain,
And if perchance they bore you,
Your eyelids you can always close
And sink into a peaceful doze!
I love each thrilling »Episode«
Where cow-boys gallop down the road,
Where trains collide, and mines explode –
At least two stunts a minute!
With joy I hail the mountain-trail,
The court-house scene within the jail,
Where blows so very fierce a gale
That ev'rybody's in it;
I love those »boudoirs« where a draught
Sweeps like a tempest, fore and aft!
I like to see the villain pack
Some struggling maiden in a sack,
And tie her to the railroad track
Or to the engine's buffer.
You'll notice that she dropped her glove?
'Twill be discovered by her »love,«
And from some handy bridge above
He'll leap upon that »puffer«!
Yes, here he comes! He jumps! You shriek!
(»A further Episode next week.«)
It is a golden rule to make
At Cinemas, for others' sake,
That if you can't remain awake –
A harmless peccadillo –
You are not thereby justified
In thinking Nature has supplied
The person sitting at your side
As a convenient pillow;
The habit you must always check
Of snoring down your neighbour's neck!
And don't assume, as many do,
That nobody can read but you,
And chant the printed captions through
To all the people near you.
By spelling out the written text
To folks you happen to sit next
You only make them cross and vexed –
They do not want to hear you –
And prove yourself the kind of man
Unfit to be a »movie-fan.«
When films appear upon the screen
That you already may have seen,
Do credit those you sit between
With some imagination!
And don't anticipate the plot
Describing how the villain's shot,
Or telling what the hero's got
To save the situation.
They know as well as you, my friend,
That films must have a happy end!
And lastly (since one must be curt)
A Cinema, let me assert,
Is not the place in which to flirt
With friends – still less with strangers!
For though it's nice, I understand,
Inspired by darkness and a band,
To hold a fellow-creature's hand,
The practice has its dangers;
For suddenly the lights come on,
And Gee! your reputation's gone!
A friend of mine, not long ago,
Was sitting at a movie-show;
A girl he thought he didn't know
Was in the seat beside him;
And when, just merely for a lark,
He took adventage of the dark
To make an amorous remark,
She turned and coldly eyed him;
He had the shock of his young life –
She was (need I explain?) his wife!
Sonntag, 13. November 2016
In »Deportmental Ditties and Other Verses« aus dem Jahre 1919 stellt Harry Graham eine verblüffende Technik vor, mit der sich zahlreiche neue Reimmöglichkeiten finden lassen: Hat ein Wort »a syllable de trop«, also eine Silbe zu viel, kann der Dichter sie einfach weglassen und den Vorgang mit einem Doppelpunkt kennzeichnen. Fertig. Dass und wie gut seine Idee funktioniert, beweist Graham praktischerweise gleich selber:
Harry Graham: Poetical Economy
What hours I spent of precious time,
What pints of ink I used to waste,
Attempting to secure a rhyme
To suit the public taste,
Until I found a simple plan
Which makes the lamest lyric scan!
When I've a syllable de trop,
I cut it off, without apol:.
This verbal sacrifice, I know,
May irritate the schol:;
But all must praise with dev'lish cunn:
Who realise that Time is Mon:.
My sense remains as clear as cryst:,
My style as pure as any Duch:
Who does not boast a bar sinist:
Upon her fam: escutch:;
And I can treat with scornful pit:
The sneers of ev'ry captious crit:.
I gladly publish to the pop:
A scheme of which I make no myst:,
And beg my fellow-scribes to cop:
This labour-saving syst:.
I offer it to the consid:
Of ev'ry thoughtful individ:.
The author, working like a beav:,
His readers' pleasure could redoub:
Did he but now and then abbrev:
The work he gives his pub:.
(This view I most partic: suggest
To A. C. Bens: and G. K. Chest:.)
If Mr. Caine rewrote »The Scape:«,
And Miss Corell: condensded »Barabb:«,
What could they save in foolscap pape:
Did they but cult: the hab:
Which teaches people to suppress
All syllables that are unnec:!
If playwrights would but thus dimin:
The lenght of time each drama takes,
(»The Second Mrs. Tanq:« by Pin:
Or even »Ham:« by Shakes:),
We could maintain a wakeful att:
When at a Mat: on Wed: or Sat:.
Have done, ye bards, with dull monot:!
Foll: my examp:, O Stephen Phill:,
O Owen Seam:, O William Wat:,
O Ella Wheeler Wil:,
And share with me the grave respons:
Of writing this amazing nons:!
Sonntag, 6. November 2016
Die beiden einleitenden Gedichte aus »Familiar Faces« (1907):
Harry Graham: The Cry of the Publisher
O my Author, do you hear the Autumn calling?Does its message fail to reach you in your den,Where the ink that once so sluggishly was crawlingCourses swiftly through your stylographic pen?'Tis the season when the editor grows active,When the office-boy looks longingly to you.Won't you give him something novel and attractiveTo review?Never mind if you are frivolous or solemn,If you only can be striking and unique,The reviewers will concede you half a columnIn their literary journals, any week.And 'twill always be your publisher's ambitionTo provide for the demand that you create,And dispose of a gigantic first edition,While you wait.O my Author, can't you pull yourself together,
Try to expiate the failures of the past,
And just ask yourself dispassionately whether
You can't give us something better than your last?
If you really—if you truly—are a poet,
As you fancy—pray forgive my being terse—
Don't you think you might occasionally show it
In your verse?
Harry Graham: The Cry of the Author
O my Publisher, how dreadfully you bore me!Of your censure I am frankly growing tired.With your diatribes eternally before me,How on earth can I expect to feel inspired?You are orderly, no doubt, and systematic,In that office where recumbent you recline;You would modify your methods in an atticSuch as mine.If you lived a sort of hand-to-mouth existence(Where the mouth found less employment than the hand);If your rhymes would lend your humour no assistance,And your wit assumed a form that never scann'd;If you sat and waited vainly at your tableWhile Calliope declined to give her cues,You would realise how very far from stableWas the Mews!You would find it quite impossible to labourWith the patient perseverance of a drone,While some tactless but enthusiastic neighbourPlayed a cake walk on a wheezy gramophone,While your peace was so disturbed by constant clatter,That at length you grew accustomed—nay, resigned,To the never-ending victory of MatterOver Mind.While you batten upon plovers' eggs and claret,In the shelter of some fashionable club,I am starving, very likely, in a garret,Off the street so incorrectly labelled Grub,Where the vintage smacks distinctly of the ink-butt,And the atmosphere is redolent of toil,And there's nothing for the journalist to drink butMidnight oil!It is useless to solicit inspirationWhen one isn't in the true poetic mood,When one contemplates the prospect of starvation,And one's little ones are clamouring for food.When one's tongue remains ingloriously tacit,One is forced with some reluctance to admitThat, alas! (as Virgil said) Poeta nascit--Ur, non fit!Then, my Publisher, be gentle with your poet;
Do not treat him with the harshness he deserves,
For, in fact, altho' you little seem to know it,
You are gradually getting on his nerves.
Kindly dam the foaming torrent of your curses,
While I ask you,—yes, and pause for a reply,—
Are you writing this immortal book of verses,
Or am I?