Sonntag, 22. Oktober 2017

Harry Graham (52 und Schluss)

Ein Jahr lang gab es hier jeden Sonntag ein Gedicht des großen vergessenen Dichters Harry Graham zu lesen, vielleicht hat er dadurch ja ein paar neue Freunde gefunden. Den Abschluss der Reihe bildet »Envoi« aus »Misrepresentative Men«:
Harry Graham: Envoi

Behold how tenderly I treat
   Each victim of my pen and brain,
And should I tread upon your feet,
   How lightly I leap off again;
Observe with what an airy grace
I fling my inkpot in your face!

To those whose intellect is small,
   This work should prove a priceless treasure;
To persons who have none at all,
   A never-ending fount of pleasure;
A mental stimulus or tonic
To all whose idiocy is chronic.

And you, my Readers (never mind
   Which category you come under),
Will, after due reflection, find
   My verse a constant source of wonder.
'Twill make you think, I dare to swear–
But what you think I do not care!

Montag, 16. Oktober 2017

Sonntag, 15. Oktober 2017

Harry Graham (51)

Weil es so schön ist und zwar bereits hier gepostet wurde, nicht jedoch in der Harry-Graham-Reihe, sei nun erneut »Love's Handicap« aus »The World We Laugh In« zitiert:
Harry Graham: Love's Handicap
From the earliest days,
Ev'ry writer of lays
   Has delighted to sing about Passion;
But of rhymes there's a dearth
For the Briton by birth
   Who would follow this popular fashion.
For though Love is a theme
That we poets esteem
   As unrivalled, immortal, sublime too,
'Tis a word that the bard
Finds it daily more hard
   To discover a suitable rhyme to!
For one can't always mention the »stars up above,«
Ev'ry time that one talks about Love!

When the French troubadour
Wants to sing of l'amour
   No such lyrical fetters restrain him;
And when making la cour
To his mistress, chaqu' jour,
   There's no famine of rhyme to detain him.
He'll describe, sans détours,
How as soft as velours
   Is her hand, and her voice like a fiddle;
How they ate petits fours
Till she cried: »Au secours
   When his arm went autour of her middle!
And there's no need for him to refer to her »glove,«
Just because he's discoursing on Love!

The Venetian signor
Who discusses l'amor'
   To his lady-love's balcony climbing,
As he presses her fior'
To his bosom (al' cuor')
   Has no trouble at all about rhyming!
When with frenzied furor'
And such fervent calor'
   He suggests her becoming his sposa,
What for him does the trick
Is that rhymes are as thick
   As the leaves upon fair Vallombrosa;
And he never need liken his dear to a »dove,«
Ev'ry time that he sings about Love!

'Tis the absence of rhymes
That inclines me, at times,
   To renounce any mention of Cupid,
And, instead, to write odes
To (say) skylarks or toads,
   Though it may seem faint-hearted or stupid.
For it's easy to sing
Of the sunshine or Spring,
   And of Pan (or some mythical person),
But to find a fresh rhyme
For the Passion sublime
   That we bards are supposed to write verse on –
Well, I'm tempted to give the whole question »the shove«
And to sing no more songs about Love!

Sonntag, 8. Oktober 2017

Harry Graham (50)

Wichtige Hinweise zur korrekten Nutzung von Badezimmern aus »The World We Laugh In«:
Harry Graham: The Bath

Broad is the Gate and wide the Path
That leads man to his daily bath;
But ere you spend the shining hour
With plunge and spray, with sluice and show'r–
With all that teaches you to dread
The bath as little as your bed–
Remember, wheresoe'er you be,
To shut the door and turn the key!

I had a friend – my friend no more!–
Who failed to bolt his bath-room door;
A maiden aunt of his, one day,
Walked in, as half-submerged he lay!
She did not notice nephew John,
And turned the boiling water on!

He had no time, nor even scope,
To camouflage himself with soap,
But gave a yell and flung aside
The sponge 'neath which he sought to hide!
It fell to earth I know not where!
He beat his breast in his despair,
And then, like Venus from the foam,
Sprang into view, and made for home!

His aunt fell fainting to the ground!
Alas! they never brought her round!
She died, intestate, in her prime,
The victim of another's crime;
And John can never quite forget
How, by a breach of etiquette,
He lost, at one fell swoop (or plunge),
His aunt, his honour, and his sponge!

Mittwoch, 4. Oktober 2017

Am Meer

Am Meer

Der Tag beginnt,
das Kind entwischt.
Der Küstenwind
erfrischt und zischt.

Bald treibt das Kind
blass in der Gischt.
Ein Fischer find-
et es und fischt.

Die Mutter sinnt,
der Vater drischt.
(Der Vater spinnt.)
Das Licht erlischt.

Sonntag, 1. Oktober 2017

Harry Graham (49)

Da aktuell die beiden Reizthemen Lyrik und Kolonialismus dank Boris Johnson und Rudyard Kipling in aller Munde sind: Hier ein satirisches Gedicht aus »Familiar Faces« (1907), in dem Harry Graham über die Kongogräuel schreibt, für die der damalige belgische König Leopold II. maßgeblich verantwortlich war. Editorischer Hinweis: Ich habe mir erlaubt, das n-word in S4V1 unkenntlich zu machen.
Harry Graham: King Leopold

(»In dealing with a race that has been composed of cannibals for thousands of years, it is necessary to use methods that best can shake their idleness and make them realise the sanctity of labour.«—King Leopold of Belgium on the Congo scandal.)

People call him »knave« and »ogre« and a lot of kindred names,  
   Or they label him as »tyrant« and »oppressor«;  
The majority must wilfully misunderstand his aims
   To regard him in the light of a transgressor.  
For, to tell the honest truth, he's a benevolent old man
   Who attempts to do his »duty to his neighbour«
By endeavouring to formulate a philanthropic plan  
   Which shall demonstrate the »sanctity of labour.«

There were natives on the Congo not a score of years ago,  
   Whose existence was a constant round of pleasure;  
Whose imperfect education had not ever let them know 
   The pernicious immorality of leisure.
They were merry little people, in their simple savage way,  
   Not a thought to moral obligations giving;  
Quite unconscious of their duties, wholly ignorant were they  
   Of the blessedness of working for a living.
But a fond paternal Government (in Belgium, need I add?)  
   Heard their story, and, with admirable kindness,  
Deemed it utterly improper, not to say a trifle sad,  
   That the heathen should continue in his blindness.  
»Let us civilise the children of this most productive soil,«
   Said their agents, who proceeded to invade them; 
»Let us show these foolish savages the dignity of toil—  
   If we have to use a hatchet to persuade them!«
So they taught these happy ners how unwise it was to shirk; 
   They implored them not to idle or malinger;  
And they showed them there was nothing that encouraged honest work 
   Like the loss of sev'ral toes or half a finger.  
When they fancied that their womenfolk were lonely or depress'd,  
   They would chain them nice and close to one another,  
And they thoughtfully abducted ev'ry baby at the breast,  
   To facilitate the labours of its mother.
So they made a point of parting ev'ry husband from his wife  
   And dividing ev'ry maiden from her lover; 
If a workman drooped or sickened they would jab him with a knife, 
   And then leave him by the roadside to recover. 
If he grumbled or grew restive they would amputate a hand,  
   Just to show him how unsafe it was to blubber,  
Till with infinite solicitude they made him understand  
   The necessity of cultivating »rubber.«
Thus the merry work progresses, as it must progress forsooth, 
   While these pioneers are sharp and firm and wary,—  
And the Congo is reluctantly compelled to own the truth  
   Of that motto »Laborare est orare.«
Though the Belgians sometimes wonder, on their tenderhearted days, 
   (When the little children scream as they abduct them), 
If the natives CAN supply sufficient rubber to erase 
   The effect of such endeavours to instruct them.
Tho' within the royal bosom a suspicion there may lurk  
   That these practices offend the sister-nations,  
That one cannot safely advocate »the sanctity of work,«
   By a policy of theft and mutilations,—  
Yet wherever on the Congo Belgium's banner is unfurled,  
   Where the atmosphere is redolent and sunny, 
I am sure the Monarch's methods must be giving to the world 
   Some ideas upon the »sanctity of money!«
And, if so, I am not boasting when I mention once again  
That the Ruler of the Congo has not surely ruled in vain!