Wednesday, 14 October 2009

More collaborations

If you read the comments on this thing (and you really should, I am blessed with great commenters), you will know that a correspondent has kindly pointed me to a whole book of these. Meanwhile, another correspondent points out that Housman should be careful about giving people ideas, given the tumpty rhythms and inviting rhymes of many of his own opening couplets, and a third correspondent brilliantly proves her point:

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say:
"You're twenty one, the numbers there
go round the other way."

This reminded me of another collaboration: the composer Thomas Beecham's grandfather made his money from a laxative named Beecham's Pills, and as a boy Thomas supposedly earned half a crown by writing the following Christmas advert:

Hark the Herald Angels Sing:
BEECHAM'S PILLS are just the thing!
Peace on Earth and Mercy Mild; 
Two for an adult, one for a child.

All of which makes me think it's a shame Housman didn't have a family business to promote...

When the lad of longing sighs
Mute and dull of cheer and pale 
Will restore him without fail!

Once in the wind of morning
I ranged the thymy wold;
Till I found a HOUSMAN'S awning
Where FIRST RATE PIES are sold!

Think no more, lad; laugh, be jolly:
Why should men make haste to die?
Especially when they've bought, by golly,


Jessica said...

Disappointed the dish endorsed by a senior Naval officer didn't get a mention in the pie stakes!

Here is another bastardised Houseman couplet to add to the growing list:

Oh, when I was in love with you
Then I was clean and brave,
Since you have gone and I am blue
I can't be arsed to shave.

John Finnemore said...

I think that might be better than the original. It's at least as good.

Jessica said...

Thanks. I am honoured!

Ellie said...

That is very good Jessica :)x

Clare said...

Houseman did write a very funny parody on Longfellow's Excelsior which contains this gem of advertising gold:

The shades of night were falling fast
And the snow was falling faster
When through an alpine village passed
An alpine village pastor
A youth, who bore mid snow and ice
A bird that wouldn't chirrup
And a banner with this strange device:
'Mrs Winslow's soothing syrup!'

It's in an excellent book of his (surprisingly) comic verse called 'Unkind to Unicorns'. No steak and kidney pies though...

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