Monday, 2 January 2017

Three poets who did not want to go to a party.

Vers de Society (Opening Lines)
Philip Larkin

My wife and I have asked a crowd of craps
To come and waste their time and ours; perhaps
You'd care to join us? In a pig's arse, friend.

Wishes of an Elderly Man, Wished at a Garden Party, June 1914
Walter Alexander Raleigh

I wish I loved the human race;
I wish I loved its silly face;
I wish I liked the way it walks;
I wish I liked the way it talks;
And when I'm introduced to one
I wish I thought "What jolly fun!"

On Mundane Acquaintances
Hilaire Belloc

Good morning, Algernon: Good morning, Percy.
Good morning, Mrs. Roebeck. Christ have mercy!


√Člyssa said...

That second one there - did Dr Seuss ever confess to being inspired by Walter Alexander Raleigh? Perhaps he read Sir W.A.R. a little too young and it remained seared in his subconscious, a confusing childhood experience he later dealt with by writing his own versions to soothe children's minds the world over? I say 'perhaps', but...

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of Garrison Keillor's description of the relief everyone gets when an event, that was meant to have been fun, get cancelled.

Peter Davies said...

I've just been listening to (and thoroughly enjoying!) the episode of Richard Herring's podcast with you as the guest. At one point you mentioned that liver makes you feel sick, and Richard suggested that raw liver would be even worse. You asked whether people actually ate raw liver, and Richard said that they probably don't.

I am happy to inform you that some people really do eat raw liver! I was in a small village in Siberia a few years ago, and the people there eat raw liver as a good source of fat and protein (because it is so cold). They freeze the liver and grate it onto their food, as a seasoning.

So there you are! I thought that you might like to know that!
Very best wishes to you, and a happy new year!

Tealin said...

There seems to have been a lot of this sort of witty ditty around the turn of the century – it comes up often on Futility Closet. Was it something in the water, or a cultural fad? Or, as I suspect, was it a sweet spot between the advent of mod-cons like electricity and running water, and the arrival of attention-suckers like TV and Futility Closet. Bored at a party? Don't have a smartphone to check? Well then you'll just have to divert your anguished brain cells into crafting a wry poem about your displeasure.

I apologise in advance for introducing you to Futility Closet, if I am the one to do so. It helps not to have it bookmarked, if only because you get a modicum more exercise typing the URL manually.

Ross Bennett said...

The third one is actually great fun if you imagine it composed The Morning After.

Lulu LaBonne said...

thank you, most useful plus the information regarding raw liver

Timothy said...

In which there were twentieth century hipster poets who just couldn't stand society man. I want a modern pop star to be this hipster but so far all we have is I'll Be Over Here.

Tabitha Miranda said...

I've realized that I'm even more blase than I thought if I can relate to Wishes of an Elderly Man and I'm in my 30's. I feel right at home with the elderly gentleman's sentiments.

John Finnemore said...

Peter - Thank you for this information. Reading that genuinely made me feel a bit queasy. I hope you're happy.

Tealin - True. Influence of Ogden Nash and Dorothy Parker, perhaps? Or were they just joining in too?

Timothy - I think Philip Larkin might be the anti-hipster. Although I suppose he did like jazz.

Tabitha - I wouldn't worry. Misanthropy is a pleasure for all ages!

Peter Davies said...

Oh dear - I didn't intend to make you feel sick! I owe you an apology, John. I am sorry!
If it's any consolation, the liver had no smell and very little taste, owing to being eaten while frozen and in small sprinkles. You could look at it that way, if you like - there is a way of nullifying the smell and flavour of liver, should you ever be on an Arctic expedition and in need of the extra fat and vitamins.

Tealin said...

I think Nash and Parker were inheritors of the tradition, rather than originators ... Back when I was a F.C. addict I'd play a little game with myself to see if I could date the poems before getting to the date at the end, and had the best luck with the witty wry ones, which were generally c. 1890-1914 (earlier being more earnest and flowery, later being a bit looser), which is slightly before Nash and Parker's professional heyday. But they're very much in the same vein. One which seems to have narrowed somewhat in recent decades... Snark is well and all, but snark in rhyme and meter is so much more of an accomplishment!

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