Sonntag, 26. Februar 2017

Harry Graham (18)

Ein Gedicht aus »Misrepresentative Men« (1904):
Harry Graham: Joan of Arc 
From Pimlico to Central Park,
From Timbuctoo to Rotten Row,
Who has not heard of Joan of Arc,
His tragic tale who does not know?
And how he put his life to stake,
For Principle and Country's sake?

This simple person of Lorraine
Had thoughts for nothing but Romance,
And longed to see a king again
Upon the battered throne of France;
(With Charles the Seventh crowned at Rheims,
He realized his fondest dreams.)

Then came the fight at Compiègne,
Where he was captured by the foe,
And lots of vulgar foreign men
Caught hold and wouldn't let him go.
»Please don't!« he begged them, in despair,
»You're disarranging all my hair.«

Unmoved by grace of form or face,
These brutes, whose hearts were quite opaque,
At Rouen, in the market-place,
Secured him tightly to a stake;
(Behaviour which cannot be viewed
As other than extremely rude.)

Poor Joan of Arc, of course, was bound
To be the centre of the show,
When, having piled the faggots round,
They lit him up and let him go.
(Which surely strikes the modern mind
As thoughtless, not to say unkind.)

But tho' he died, his deathless name
In Hist'ry holds a noble place,
And brings the blush of conscious shame
To any Anglo-Saxon face.
Perfidious truly was the nation
Which caused his premature cremation!

∗       ∗       ∗      

I showed these verses to a friend,
Inviting him to criticise;
He read them slowly to the end,
Then asked me, with a mild surprise,
»What was your object,« he began,
»In making Joan of Arc a man?«

I hastened to the library
Which kind Carnegie gave the town,
Searched Section B. (Biography.)
And took six bulky volumes down;
Then studied all one livelong night,
And found (alas!) my friend was right.

I'm sorry; for it gives me pain
To think of such a waste of rhyme.
I'd write the poem all again,
Only I can't afford the time;
It's rather late to change it now,—
I can't be bothered anyhow.

Sonntag, 19. Februar 2017

Harry Graham (17)

Nachtrag zum Valentinstag: ein recht romantisches Gedicht aus »Adam's Apples« (1930):
Harry Graham: The Siren

'Mid summertime's fantastic heat,
When urban pavements parch the feet,
To some far loophole of retreat
   Our drowsy thoughts go straying;
In bondage on each office-stool,
We dream of caverns dim and cool,
Of shady grots beside some pool
   Where nymphs and fauns are playing,
Where timid dryads coyly scatter
In flight before the local satyr.

While some (the more romantic chaps)
May plan a walking-tour, perhaps,
Where coloured counties spread their maps
   For Shropshire lads on Bredon,
And some (the richer fellows) plot
A cruise to Lapland in a yacht,
And thus enjoy, if polyglot,
   The voice that breathes o'er Sweden,
And others yearn for Monte Carlo,
For Fontainebleau, or even Marlow,

Much simpler travel-tastes have I;
My needs the humblest joys supply;
I never try to aim too high,
   Nor choose too large a target,
For I recall (sweet souvenir!)
The holiday I spent, last year,
In seaside lodgings with my dear
   Aunt Ramsgaret at Margate*,
With whom and where that blest vacation
Was one long round of dissipation.

* Should this not be »Aunt Margaret at Ramsgate«? – Pub.
   Yes. – H.G.

Each morning she would take the air,
Propelled by me in a bath-chair –
That is, the weather being fair
   And other things propitious.
Then home to lunch we gaily hied,
And though, I own, the meal supplied
Erred somewhat on the frugal side,
   The mince was quite delicious,
And tapioca, too, would follow,
With lumps that were sheer joy to swallow.

Each afternoon, from three to five,
We hired a fly and took a drive –
Of vehicles one could contrive
   No nicer form to ride in –
And then upon the pier we'd sit,
Enjoying all that (you'll admit)
Makes England still a country fit
   For Pierrots to reside in;
And oh! what talks we'd have together
About our ailments and the weather!

On stormy mornings we'd remain
Indoors, and Aunt would not complain,
Declaring that she liked the rain,
   It made her fringe so wavy!
And if the afternoons were wet
She would produce her wireless set,
And we would very often get
   Morse signals from the Navy
Or howlings from some foreign station
Which she ascribed to oscillation.

Sea-bathing was a sport I'd planned,
But the authorities had banned
Undressing on the open strand,
   And though a Nature-lover
Might deem such regulations strange,
They would not suffer a sea-change
Unless one somehow could arrange
   To do it under cover;
Attempts to shed one's underclothing
In public they beheld with loathing.

Though this was something of a blow,
My habits I would not forgo –
»Aut nec aut nihil,«* as you know,
   Has always been my motto –
And, after tea, when Auntie lay
Upon her couch, I'd slip away
To a sequestered little bay
   Where (in a cave or grotto)
My garment's plenary removal
Could meet with no one's disapproval.

* »Neck or nothing.«

One evening, as I doffed my socks,
I noticed here upon the rocks
A maiden with peroxide locks
   Who sat and watched me stripping.
She wore a one-piece bathing-suit
And was a most attractive »beaut,«
And when she said: »Hullo, old fruit!«
   I felt that I was slipping.
And when she giggled rather sweetly
I knew that I had fall'n completely!

Then up she sprang and, like a shot,
(She was a lovesome thing, God wot!)
She bolted from the cave or grot
   And leapt into the briny.
She sank like – was it Milton said? –
A daystar in the ocean bed,
The reared anon her dripping head
   As, with her eyes all shiny,
She shouted: »Catch me if you can, sir!«
And dived again like a merganser!

A moment's start was all I gave,
Then darted from my grot or cave,
And through the cool translucent wave
   Pursued the nymph and caught her;
In vain she struggled to escape;
I seized her firmly by the nape
(Which was of most convenient shape)
   And home rejoicing brought her.
»Oh, fie!« she cried, »You didn't otto!«
But »Neck or nothing« – that's my motto!

'Twas thus our love-affair began.
Each day, as to that cave I ran,
The offing for her form I'd scan,
   I couldn't live without it!
She looked so sweet in deshabille,
And when she kept an even keel
She seemed as graceful as a seal –
   I spoke to her about it.
She answered: »What of your vile corpus?
No doubt 'twas made like that on porpoise!«

Ah, yes, she'd such a sense of fun,
She dearly loved a harmless pun;
I well remember making one
   That specially rejoiced her.
As we were swimming through a shoal,
I murmured: »There's no plaice like sole!«
And on a breakwater (or mole)
   Suggested I should »'oist-'er!«
She smiled a smile so quaint, so elfish,
And said: »That would be very shellfish!«

She was the trimmest little craft
(Conspicuously so abaft),
And how I loved her when she chaffed
   And said that I was her »buoy,«
For she was so »attached« to me!
And when she perched upon my knee,
Just like a mermaid from the sea,
   And whispered: »Atta Merboy!«
The very lobsters started blushing;
The tide went out as far as Flushing.

Such happiness was doomed, alas!
My Aunt, to watch The Skylark pass,
One evening, through her op'ra-glass
   Quite innocently gazing,
Observed us sporting in the foam;
Her colour changed from puce to chrome,
She hurried forth and dragged me home,
   Her eyes with anger blazing,
And packed me off, next morning early,
To »Kenilworth,« my home near Purley.

I've never met my Siren since,
And yet, whenever I eat mince
Or tapioca, I evince
   Strong symptoms of emotion.
In retrospect I see her still,
Broadbased upon that rocky sill,
Submerged or compassed (as you will)
   By the inviolate ocean!
And distance does but serve to heighten
The mem'ry of our time at Brighton!*

* Should this not be »Margate«? – Ed.
   No. Ramsgate. – H.G.

Mittwoch, 15. Februar 2017


Ein doppeltes Sonett

Gut, ich gesteh es: Berg und Tal
sind mir seit eh und je egal.
Mir scheint die See nicht ideal,
und nee, ich geh nicht zum Kanal.

Ich hass den Wald sowie das Feld,
zu ungestalt dünkt mir der Belt,
ich flüchte bald, wo Eis sich hält,
denn kalt ist halt nicht meine Welt.

Die Wüste find ich dito öd,
und Berge sind mir viel zu blöd.
Mich zog's auch nie in die Prärie.

Ich meid das Moor, mir kommt der Teich
bedenklich vor, doch völlig gleich
sind mir zum Schluss noch Stadt, Land, Fluss.

Sonntag, 12. Februar 2017

Harry Graham (16)

Hygienehinweise aus »Canned Classics« (1911):

Harry Graham: The Dirt Cure

»Abandon Soap all ye who enter here!«

(»I do not think cleanliness is to be recommended as an hygienic method... The whole of the doctrine of fresh air requires to be revised... There is no evidence that the man who does not take physical exercise is more liable to disease than the man who does.« – Sir Almroth Wright.)

Time was when I gaily would wash myself daily;
   My body with soapsuds I polished;
Each morning I plotted to issue unspotted
   From baths (that have since been abolished).
But though I might lather and scrub with a will, I
Could never elude those confounded bacilli!

Time was when each casement, from attic to basement,
   Stood open all night to the breezes;
My molars might chatter, but what did that matter,
   Thought I, if I staved off diseases?
A practise so rigorous merely unstrung me,
And germs floated in at the window, and stung me!

Time was when I nightly would bicycle brightly
   Round Battersea Park, in a »sweater«;
I felt that such vigour would strengthen my figure,
   And render my appetite better.
Alas! 'neath my cycling costume (call'd a »bike-robe«)
I still was a prey to each virulent microbe!

The scientist's scathing indictment of bathing
   Has altered my methods complety.
I've given up coping with windows, or soaping;
   My sponges are packed away neatly.
My bicycle's sold, and I can't understand how
I ever attempted to emulate Sandow!

Unkempt and a sloven, in rooms like an oven,
   I lead a most healthy existence;
My stout epidermis so horny and firm is,
   Bacilli are kept at a distance.
No germ in my armour discovers a juncture;
My body no microbe is able to puncture!

Sonntag, 5. Februar 2017

Harry Graham (15)

Ein Beitrag zur Völkerverständigung aus »Baby's Baedeker«:

Harry Graham: Ireland

The Irishman is never quite
   Contented with his little lot;
He's ever thirsting for a fight,
   A grievance he has always got;
And all his energy is bent
On trying not to pay his rent.

He lives upon a frugal fare,
   The few potatoes that he digs,
And hospitably loves to share
   His bedroom with his wife and pigs,
But cannot settle even here
And gets evicted once a year.

In order to amuse himself
   At any time when things are slack,
He takes his gun down from the shelf
   And shoots a landlord in the back;
If he is lucky in the chase
He may contrive to bag a brace.

Procure a grievance and a gun
And you can have no end of fun.

Donnerstag, 2. Februar 2017

Neues zum Reimmangel (2)

Dass hochrangige Politiker und gar Staatsoberhäupter sich in der Kunst des Dichtens üben, ist – genannt seien bloß Sissi, der bayerische König Ludwig I., die japanische Prinzessin Michiko und Erwin Rommels Sohn – nicht unüblich. Lesen allerdings will man die Werke dann nur selten.
George Canning (1770-1827), langjähriger Außen- und in den letzten vier Monaten seines Lebens auch Premierminister Großbritanniens, ist eine Ausnahme, und eine Probe seiner Verskunst gibt das folgende Beispiel, in dem Canning eine ungeheuerliche Möglichkeit findet, die (trotz ihrer Bewohner (Lichtenberg! Heine! Gernhardt!)) in Fragen des Gleichklangs recht unkooperative Universitätsstadt Göttingen reimbar zu machen:
George Canning – Song

Whene’er with haggard eyes I view
   This dungeon that I’m rotting in,
I think of those companions true
   Who studied with me at the U—
           —niversity of Gottingen,—           
           —niversity of Gottingen!
(Weeps, and pulls out a blue kerchief, with which he wipes his eyes; gazing tenderly at it, he proceeds—)
Sweet kerchief, check'd with heav'nly blue,
   Which once my love sat notting in! —
Alas! Matilda then was true! —
   At least I thought so at the U—          
           —niversity of Gottingen,—
           —niversity of Gottingen.
(At the repetition of this line Rogero clanks his chains in cadence.)
Barbs! Barbs! alas! how swift you flew,
   Her neat post-wagon trotting in!
Ye bore Matilda from my view;         
   Forlorn I languished at the U—
           —niversity of Gottingen,—
           —niversity of Gottingen.

This faded form! This pallid hue!
   This blood my veins is clotting in!         
My years are many — they were few
   When first I entered at the U—
          —niversity of Gottingen,—
          —niversity of Gottingen.

There, sweet, for thee my passion grew,         
   Sweet! sweet Matilda Pottingen!
Thou wast the daughter of my tu—
   —tor, law professor at the U—
          —niversity of Gottingen,—
          —niversity of Gottingen.         

Sun, moon, and thou, vain world, adieu,
   That kings and priests are plotting in.
Here, doomed to starve on water gru—
   —el, never shall I see the U—
         —niversity of Gottingen,—
         —niversity of Gottingen.

Ob dieses Lied der 1797 von Canning gegründeten Zeitung »The Anti-Jacobin« entstammt, wann es verfasst wurde und ob es tieferen Sinn enthält, vermag ich nicht zu beurteilen; ich fand es unkommentiert in der lesenswerten Anthology of Light Verse von Louis Kronenberger.