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December 2, 2005

Monosyllabification
Posted by Teresa at 04:26 PM * 113 comments

Larry Hammer’s playing at Words of One Beat again, over on his LiveJournal. The game is to write entirely in words of one syllable; and so he posted:

Had we but all the world, and time, These coy ways, Miss, would be no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the East Ind stream’s bank-side
Shouldst find red gems: I by the tide
Near York would moan of love. I would
Love you ten years ere came the Flood,
You should say “No,” if you should please,
Till Jews to Christ go on their knees. …

That last couplet isn’t quite up to the original; but what are the odds that anything would be?

We’re having fun. Patrick has weighed in with:

At the round Earth’s made-up sharp bits Blow your horns, winged ones, and rise up
Rise up from death, you great past all we can count, of souls
And to each your own corpse, spread out, please go! …

My own entry there is half a cheat, its art in the choice of the original:
When I have fears that I may cease to be Ere I can write out all that’s in my brain, …

Comments on Monosyllabification:
#1 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2005, 05:20 PM:

I tried. It's hard.

I'm first! Yay. (You can guess there is some sark in that.)

#2 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2005, 06:39 PM:

Ha! It is not a jot on Mad Ape Den. At the Den you may not use any gab if it is not (len <= 3).

Any guy or gal got a yen to put an eye on "Romeo & Juliet" in Mad Ape gab? I'd yet to put an end on it, but I may.

#3 ::: Rudi Schlatte ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2005, 06:52 PM:

Guy Steele held a talk done in words of one syllable only, or words defined beforehand:

http://homepages.inf.ed.ac.uk/wadler/steele-oopsla98.pdf

And yes, the form serves to illustrate the point he wants to make...

#4 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2005, 07:41 PM:

Spring's first full month hurts most of all, when bulbs
Burst through the mud like bombs; their pale leaf-flames
Light our dark rooms and wake us from cold sleep,
Which we had dreamt was numb. Last June, it rained,
And so we stopped for tea and spoke in tongues
Of days long gone, where dead trees give no shade.

(I dunno; I still think the limerick format was more fun--

April sucks. Pick a card, here:
She drowns and he floats. (hic) Beer?
Gratuitous quote
And random footnote.
Then Götterdämmerung (splat). PH33R! )

#5 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2005, 08:39 PM:

I like Jeff's take on the month more than Tom's:

"When the fourth month with his sweet rain has pierced to the root the drought of March, and bathed each vine with sweet life, by which
strength the bloom is born; when the west wind with his sweet breath has brought forth in each holt and heath the new crops, and the young sun has run half his course in the Ram, and the small birds make song and yet don't close their eyes all night while they sleep -- for Life pricks them in their hearts -- then, folks long to see the saints and wear the palm while they seek strange shores with far off shrines, known in all the lands; and most of all, from the end of each shire of this land they wend to Saint Tom's Town, to seek the late great saint who has helped the sick when they have sought him."

Um, yeah, prose -- I'm not quite so good to do our Olde Tongue in words of one beat.

---L.

#6 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2005, 08:52 PM:

The Mad Ape Den is almost as whacked and fun as the verbs_bad LJ community, unfortunately defunct.

---L.

#7 ::: Lea ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2005, 10:17 PM:

I love this game! I wrote this one a while back and put it on my blog, but it may still be good for a laugh. It's Old Nick's plaint from...what do you call it in one-beat words? The long one on the Fall of Man, with the tree and the fruit and all. That said, here goes:

"It sucks to be me. Which way should I fly wrath and lack of hope with no end? Which way I fly is Hell -- hell, I'm Hell; and in the most deep pit one that's more deep will gape and try to eat me, and that would make Hell look great. So I'll give up; I can do that, can't I? But then I have to yield, and that's a word I can't stand to hear, and then I fear my friends whom I got to fight with me would laugh, since I said I could beat God. They don't know how pissed that makes me feel or how much my life sucks. Sure, I sit on the throne of Hell, and they think I'm great and I have a crown and a big staff, but that just makes things worse -- the one thing I'm first in is pain. That's what you get when you aim too high!

So let's say I do yield, and could get back in God's good grace -- then I'd just want to fight him once more, and break my vows, since I'd be out of Hell and all, and I'd think it was just my pain that made me swear them. We can't make peace, and if I fall twice I'd be in more deep shit. God knows this, so he won't grant peace and I won't ask for it. And since things got screwed up with us and there's no hope to fix them, he goes and makes this world and these men to take our place. Well, screw hope and so long, fear and guilt! All good to me is lost, so let bad be good. Then I can have at least half of all, and I could get more, too, as man and this new world will find out soon."

It's prose, not verse, but don't mind that. I should do more of these; it's too much fun!

#8 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 12:01 AM:

(Oh, why not:)


THE SAD ERA OF RO & JUL

(In the way of Mad Ape Den)


* BIT AT THE TOP *

_In: The Few Who Say It All_

THE FEW WHO SAY IT ALL:
Two of a hut, all in a rut
In hip V'na, as we lay our yap,
A bad old way has got a new bad day
As hip kin can put a hip paw in the sap.
Out of any bad kid pod, one to a foe
Two in a big big sex way vow to die;
Who got in a bad era, and as two go
The kin of all now say "We may not vie."
The bad day of their oh-so-bad sex way
And the way the kin had got to be bad yet,
So 'til the two did die all had to vie,
We now can put it all up on our set;
So if you put an ear or two our way
We can fix all we did not now say.


* ACT 1, BIT 1 *
_In: Sam & Gre, kin of Cap, in big kit for war_

SAM: I am a bad ass. Why may no one see me so?

GRE: Aye! You are a bad ass. If but you had a guy or two to hit.

SAM: Or a gal to bop.

GRE: Hey! The two up the way are of Mon. Get thy kit!

_In: Abe & Bal, kin of Mon_

SAM: My kit is out; if you hit, I may hit too.

GRE: How? Do not run!

SAM: Ha! No. Now I may get the two to put a bad eye on us.

ABE: Hey you! Had you bit thy paw at us, sir?

SAM: Me? I had bit my paw, yes.

ABE: Had you bit thy paw AT US, sir?

SAM (to GRE): If I say yes, is the law hip to me?

GRE: Uh, no.

SAM (to ABE): Why, no, I had not bit my paw TO YOU, sir, but I had bit my paw.

GRE: Do you yen to be hit?

ABE: Yen to be hit? No, sir!

SAM: If you do yen to be hit, sir, I am thy man; for I am a bad ass.

ABE: How bad?

SAM: Way bad.

_In: BEN_

GRE: But the guy now is way *way* bad.

SAM: Yes, his ass is so bad my ass can not vie wi' his.

ABE: You lie.

SAM: Ha! If you are men, get out thy kit! Gre, get the guy at thy hip!

BEN: HEY! Put up thy kit! You do not ken the ill you do. (He did now hit all of the kit.)

_In: TYB_

TYB: Hey, Ben! Why do you hit at my kin? I am now to get you to die!

BEN: You do not get it, Tyb. I try now to get all not to vie. Put up thy kit, or get at my hip and do it too.

TYB: Ha! Thy kit is in thy paw, and you say not to vie? You are an ass, as are all of Mon, and now you may die!

(TYB and BEN go on to vie)

_In: A few of V'na_

Few: All now vie! Cap is bad! Mon is bad! Get 'em out of our way!

_In: Cap & Mrs. Cap_

CAP: Why do you all cry such a din? Get me my kit, ho!

Mrs. CAP: You cry for kit? You are way too old!

CAP: My kit, I say! On now is old Mon, and HE has a kit!

_In: Mon & Mrs. Mon_

MON: You bad bad man. Hey! Let me go!

Mrs. MON: No. I may not let you be an ass.

(...And so on. It is not a lot yet, but I may get it all in a day or two if I try.)

#9 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 12:47 AM:

It's practically cheating to use Shakes's sonnets, since he uses so many monosyllables (that's why I'm not doing my favorite, #94*) but, what the heck, them's just words, and little ones at that, so here goes:

#29
When luck is sour and men frown as they pass,
I cry on my own time, to no one's ear,
And tell the clouds like stones, then find a glass
And look at who looks back, and hate him dear.
I wish that I had hope, like one I know:
I wish I had his looks, his charm, his friends,
I want to be like them, go where they go,
And not stop cold where all the old joy ends.
I think this, and could howl it at the moon,
Yet day to day the sun shines on a bird
Who wakes up in the grass, and makes a tune,
Who cares for song, and not if it is heard.
And then I have your face, your voice, your kiss;
And gold and fame are not so good as this.

*They that have power to hurt and will do none...

#10 ::: Rick S ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 01:35 AM:

A year ago, in the tenth month, a Brit news mag, you know the one, it starts with E, ran a great piece, "Out with the long", to praise short words. I read it with awe, for none but words of just one part are in it--well, there's a name that breaks the rule. Here's the piece:


“Short words are best”, said Winston Churchill, “and old words when short are the best of all”

AND, not for the first time, he was right: short words are best. Plain they may be, but that is their strength. They are clear, sharp and to the point. You can get your tongue round them. You can spell them. Eye, brain and mouth work as one to greet them as friends, not foes. For that is what they are. They do all that you want of them, and they do it well. On a good day, when all is right with the world, they are one more cause for cheer. On a bad day, when the head aches, you can get to grips with them, grasp their drift and take hold of what they mean. And thus they make you want to read on, not turn the page.

Yes, yes, you may say, that all sounds fine. But from time to time good prose needs a change of pace—a burst of speed, a touch of the brake, a slow swoop, a spring, a bound, a stop. Some might say a shaft of light and then a dim glow, some warp as well as weft, both fire and ice, a roll on the drum as much as a toot on the flute. Call it what you will. The point is that to get a range of step, stride and gait means you have to use some long words, some short and some, well, just run of the mill, those whose place is in the mid range. What's more, though you may find you can write with just short words for a while, in the end don't you have to give in and reach for one of those terms which, like it or not, is made up of bits, more bits and yet more bits, and that adds up to a word which is long?

Then there is the ban on new words, or at least a puff for the old. Why? Time has moved on. The tongues of yore need help if they are to serve the way we live now. And, come to that, are you sure that the Greeks and Gauls and scribes of Rome were as great as they are cracked up to be? Singe my white head, they could make long words as well as any Hun or Yank or French homme de lettres who plies his trade these days.

Well, yes, some of those old folks' words were on the long side, but long ones were by no means the rule. And though the tongue in which you read this stole words from here and there, and still does, at the start, if there was one, its words were short. Huh, you may say, those first “words” were no more than grunts. Yet soon they grew to be grunts with a gist, and time has shown that, add to the length of your words as you may, it is hard to beat a good grunt with a good gist.

That is why the short words, when old, are still the tops. Tough as boots or soft as silk, sharp as steel or blunt as toast, there are old, short words to fit each need. You want to make love, have a chat, ask the way, thank your stars, curse your luck or swear, scold and rail? Just pluck an old, short word at will. If you doubt that you will find the one you seek, look at what can be done with not much: “To be or not to be?” “And God said, Let there be light; and there was light,” “We are such stuff as dreams are made on,” “The year's at the spring/And day's at the morn.../The lark's on the wing;/The snail's on the thorn.”

It can be done, you see. If you but try, you can write well, and say what you want to say, with short words. And you may not need a lot of them: some words add just length to your prose. That piece of string, the one whose length you all the time have to guess, is no less fine if it is short than if it is long; on its own, its length is not good, not bad, just the sum of its two halves. So it is with words. The worth of each lies in the ends to which it is put. Tie your string well, or ill, and its length counts for naught. Make your point well with short words, and you will have no use for long ones. Make it not so well, and you will be glad that you kept them crisp. So, by God, will those who have to read you.

#11 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 01:41 AM:

This is largely to show that some poems do this naturally. With an obvious intended effect.

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
and add a bit more, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
by fools in old-style hats and coats,
who half the time were weak but stern
and used the rest to lunge at throats.

This goes from man to man by hand.
It grows deep like it's near the sea.
Get out as soon as you can stand
and plan your life to be kid-free.


#12 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 01:45 AM:

Damn, I meant to use the same trick in my prose but it slipped my mind. I must make sure not to do the same thing next time. For now, please be kind and let me say how bad it makes me feel.

#13 ::: Andrew Vestal ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 01:46 AM:

This is much harder than it looks.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the night-time is spread out next to the sky
Like a man laid out in bed on N2O;
Let us go, through these more-or-less cleared-out streets,
The half-heard, half-seen beats
Of too late nights in one-night beds of rest
And no good clams from crab shacks (not the best)
Streets that trail like a spat that has no end
To lead you to one huge, grand, strong, and big thought...
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and see who is it.

In the room, the girls come and go
With talk of old art that they know.

#14 ::: Ellen Fremedon ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 02:18 AM:

Oh, this was fun! Tough, but fun:

Lay your sleep-caught head, my love,
On this arm that let you down.
Time, the flush of heat, these may
Burn off what makes fair each lone
Care-filled child, and the grave prove
Him more weak with each fast-flung year.
But in my arms till break of day
Let him who breathes here all night lie,
Death-bound, sin-trapped, but to me
In each part and in whole most fair.

Soul and flesh, these have no bounds:
To those who love, as they lie on
Love's free-to-all and thick-spelled slope
And swoon in ways that all men swoon,
Grave, to them, the sight She sends:
To heed the world's law not, and feel
As one, in world-wide love and hope;
While not seen is the sight that wakes
Hard joy, in fields of ice and rocks,
In men that lone and stern there dwell.

To hold faith, or to know it's held--
In the night those fled, like sound
That rolls off of a sharp-struck bell.
And mad men of the mad-run crowd
Once more their old well-learned tale told:
Each last small coin of the cost,
All the long-feared cards now tell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a hushed word, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.

Night dies, and fair sights with it die:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Soft all round your dream-caught head
Such a sweet, sweet new day show
As beat-wracked heart may bless, and eye,
The death-bound world be all you crave;
Let dry noon-tide see you fed
By the powers, will they or no;
Nights of harm still let you go
Watched by all the loves men love.

#15 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 02:36 AM:

Well, if Shakespeare is taking the easy way out...
(Apologies for the abbrevations in the first line. Think of
it as setting the table.)


I'm the je ne sais quois of a Mod. Maj. Gen.,
I've all the hot buzz on the slans and the fen;
The lords of the Isle, from Big Will to Queen Liz,
And the fights they all fought, from the was to the is.

In maths I'm no slouch; I can solve in a spree
All the straight lines and curves, with roots one, two, and three;
I can tell you the rule on which each of them rides:
The square root of the sum of the squares of the sides.

(Chor: etc.)

Sir Ike's rules of rates are no great strain for me
Nor the names of the motes that thrive too small to see.
In short, in all realms -- of song, tongue, or pen --
I'm the je ne sais quois of a Mod. Maj. Gen.

(Chor: woot!)

(Beyond this, the words are obscured by inky cat tracks. Falling
asleep, sorry.)

#16 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 02:45 AM:

The Drowned Man

The night was dark in all the sky,
The wind blew quite a burst,
When such a poor sad wretch as I
Fell from the deck head first.
His friends, all hope, he had let slip,
And left his home on board the ship.

No man more brave was in that land
Than he with whom he went,
Nor was there ship from that fair strand,
With more kind words was sent.
He loved them both, but would no more
See man or ship, nor yet that shore.

Not long he lay down in the sea,
But made as if to swim;
Nor soon did strength yet from him flee,
Or heart soon fail for him;
But waged with death a long hard fight
In hope that he would live the night.

He called; and nor did his friends fail
To stay the ship's old course,
But none could stop her in that gale,
And they were made by force,
To leave their friend in his poor state
And lead the ship to its own fate.

Some help was still at hand, they knew,
And when the storm would calm,
The cask, the coop, the rope they threw
To save their friend from harm.
But not with much real hope of cheer,
For fate had made its aim too clear.

Nor, harsh as it had seemed, could he
Make plaint of them in turn,
He knew that flight in such a sea,
Was such they could not spurn;
Yet still he felt it sad to die
And all the while his friends so nigh.

Who has to swim to live an hour
Must feel he swims all day;
And for that long he kept his power
And kept his fate at bay;
And all the time, as it went by
He called for help, or cried out "Hi!"

At length, this kind of thing gone past,
His friends who, through the roar,
Still heard his voice in each new blast,
Could catch the sound no more.
For then, by toil worn down, he drank
The sharp salt wave, and then he sank.

No bard has wept him; but the page
That tells the tale we hear,
And tells his name, his worth, his age,
Is wet with one man's tear.
And tears by bards or great men shed
May both serve well to wake the dead.

I thus have no real mind, or dream,
When now I tell the tale
To carve in stone this great sad theme
So that it may not stale:
But all the same my soul does tend
In this one's fate to see a friend.

No voice of God did end the storm
No light came from the sky,
When snatched from one life safe and warm,
We both were doomed to die;
But I was in more rough a sea
And whelmed in gulfs more deep than he.

#17 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 07:27 AM:

candle: They fuck you up...

Is that a trope or an original? It is fine, either way.

#18 ::: hypochrismutreefuzz ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 09:36 AM:

Its Philip Larkin.

#19 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 10:31 AM:

Pour, Oh, pour the sea thief grape juice.
Fill, O fill, the sea thief glass.
And to make us more than foot loose,
Let the sea thieve's wine cask pass.

For this morn our sea thief school kid
Rises from his pledged word freed.
Strong his arm and well his ruth hid,
He's a sea thief now in deed.

Here's good luck to what Fred tries out.
Fred his school days puts to rout.

Two and one score now his age is,
And a man he's fit to fly.
Which to tell we with words short sing,
Words in knots we strain to tie.

Here's good luck to what Fred tries out.
Fred his school days puts to rout.

Pour, Oh, pour the sea thief grape juice.
Fill, O fill, the sea thief glass.
And to make us more than foot loose,
Let the sea thieves' wine cask pass.

#20 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 10:37 AM:

Oo -- good ones, here. Mike, cand., Lea, El., Dave, may I post those in the One Beat Book of Verse?

---L.

#21 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 11:14 AM:

Sure, L.N. Thank you.

#22 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 11:27 AM:

I think we should cut out as many syllables as possible:

I ate the plums in the fridge

which you wanted to eat
next morn

too bad, they were nice

so sweet and cold.

#23 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 11:28 AM:

I actually hate Williams, and that poem in particular, but someone always does it for parody threads. so it might as well be me.

#24 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 12:46 PM:

From too much love of breath,
From fear and hope set free,
We thank, for ease of death,
The gods that there may be
That they will one day call "time",
That none have means to stall time,
That streams may run for all time,
And yet must run to sea.

#25 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 01:34 PM:

It's practically cheating to use Shakes's sonnets, since he uses so many monosyllables

Shall I come pare thee to a Somme murre's day?

My desultory attempt ere:

Hear the loud fire bells-
Brave loud bells!
What a tale of fear, hear now, their noise and clang it tells!
In the wide eyed ear of night
How they scream out their big fright!
Too much scared to just plain speak,
They can only shriek and shriek,
Out of tune,
In a big noise kind of plea to the kind care of the fire,
In a mad loud yell and fight with the deaf and mad crazed fire,
Leaping high, more high, more high,
With a fierce and fast thirst-sigh,
And a firm and steel-eyed try,
Now–now to sit or die,
By the side of the pale-face moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their big fear tells
Of fierce gloom!
How they clang, and clash, and boom!
What a fright wave they let zoom
On the breast of the more-than-one-fast-pulse air!
Yet the ear it full well knows,
By the twang,
And the clang,
How the harm threat ebbs and flows:
Yet the ear with no murk tells,
In the fight noise,
And the night noise,
How the risk it sinks and swells,
By the fall or by the rise in the raw throat-shout of the bells-
Of the bells
Of the bells, bells, bells,bells,
Bells, bells, bells
In the hue and cry and roar-noise of the bells!

#26 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 02:45 PM:

"Mere bits and pieces of stuff, made to lend truth to what would else be a bald and not very real tale."

No, I can't see Pooh-Bah using short words.

#27 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 03:49 PM:

The One Beat Book of Verse? Yes, by all means. But note that the first one I wrote did not have to be changed much, so it is far more him than me - the last verse is all I did much to. Mark D. - yes, it's This Be The Verse by the man named in the post just down from yours.

As for the plums, I think it needs a quick change: "which you had meant to eat"? I hate the poem too, which is why it is so great to mess with. Have you seen what Koch did with it?

When I was at school - well, *big school* - and tried to write a thing I still hope will be a book on *things that took place a long time in the past*, a friend of mine and I tried to set out what our work was in words of this length and no more. She works on words and sounds, and what she sought to prove was: "sounds at the end of a word are not quite the same as sounds at the start of a word". Me, I work on what we might call here the 'good book', and I found it quite hard to say much past: "Men (and not just men) in Rome tried to see their own world as if it was part of the good book".

I find it is good to try to write like this, as you learn fast which bad words are ones you do need and which are just there for show.

#28 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 04:29 PM:

This *is* fun. I must stop or I'll get no real work done.

I once leant on a gate out in
A wood by frost made grey,
In which the cold snap made seem thin
What sun still shone that day.
The stems of bine crossed in the sky
Like strings that once were lyres,
And all who might have passed me by
Had gone back to their fires.

The land's sharp face, it seemed to me
Would serve well as a bier,
The sky and clouds a crypt could be,
As winds cried, for that year.
The age-old pulse of germ and birth
Had shrunk and now was dry:
No man or ghost on all the earth
Seemed quite so dulled as I.

At once a voice came from a place
In twigs quite close to me
And sang its song with not a trace
Of pain, but filled with glee;
A poor old thrush, frail, gaunt and small,
Whose plumes great storms had paled,
Had sought this way to fling his soul
Out where the light now failed.

There was no cause to sing that song
Which made him seem so gay
Out in the world, though I looked long
Both here and down the way;
And so I thought that there might be
Deep in that song I heard
Some joy he knew; and which for me
Was strange as that poor bird.

#29 ::: Lea ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 04:52 PM:

L.N.: Of course you may!

Dave Bell: you rock, sir.

#30 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 05:06 PM:

When my grave is broke up once more
To give a place to one guest more
(For graves now serve, as girls are said,
To be to more than one a bed)
And he that digs it, spies
A ring of bright hair wrapped around the bone,
Will he not let us stay as one
And think that here a pair who loved still lies
Who thought that by this trick they'd make some way
To make their souls at the world's last mad day
Meet at this grave, and make just one hour's stay?

If this fall in a time, or land,
Where Rome's false faith has them in hand
Then he that digs us up will bring
Us to a priest or to a king
To make ours bones of saints, and then
Thou be one who wept on her red locks,
And we shall go into a box.
All wives and maids shall love us, and some men.
And since at such times signs are sought
I would have that age by this verse-leaf taught
What signs we two who loved and did no harm have wrought.

First, we loved well, without a slip or lie,
Yet knew not how we loved, nor why;
That we were not of the same sex, we did not know,
No more than God's vast host do so,
As we came and went, yes, we
Might kiss, but did not steal a snack;
Our hands ne'er touched the latch
Which love's world, wronged by our late laws, sets free.
These signs and more we worked; but now, oh Hell
All word and tunes can do is doomed to fail
To tell you what a fine bright thing she was.

#31 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 05:12 PM:

The above should read "wrapped 'round the bone," of course. Also "Thou shalt be one..."

#32 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 05:55 PM:

I decided to try some Churchill, in light of the article Rick S. quoted:

"I have, in my own mind, full faith that if all do as they should, if they leave nothing to chance, and if the best plans are made, as we make them just now, we shall prove once more that we can guard and keep our home, this Isle, can ride out the storm of war, and can live through the threat of the rule of death, for years if we must, on our own if we must. Come what may, that is what we will try to do. That is the will of our King's men--each man of them. That is the will of the Moot and of our whole land. We and the French, linked as one in our cause and in our need, will fight to the death for our own soil, the soil where we were born; we will each help our friends and fight side by side, to the last reach of our strength. Though large tracts of the West and more than a few old and famed States are now or may soon be in the grip of the our foes and all the sick chains of their rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and on the waves, we shall fight with more and more trust and with more and more strength in the air, we shall guard our Isle, let the cost be what it may, we shall fight on the shores, we shall fight on the grounds where the planes land, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall not give in, and if, which I do not for the time one thought takes hold true, this Isle or a large part of it were in our foes' hands, made slaves and left to starve, then our Realms on the far side of the seas, armed and kept by our Fleet, would keep on with the fight, till that day when, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to free and save the old.

#33 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 05:58 PM:

Argh! "No thing," not "nothing." I suppose I'll stop now. And yes, I do think "power" can be one syllable.

#34 ::: Robin Z ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 06:15 PM:

This is a cool game. I do not think I did well, but...

The Tree - E. Pound

I stood still and was a tree in midst of wood,
To know the truth of things not seen before;
Of Daph. and of the green tree's bow
And those gods'-hosts, that love-pair old
That grew elm-oak in midst of wold.
'Twas not ere when the gods had been
With grace bid come, and been brought right in
Straight to the hearth of their heart's home
That they might do this awe-made thing:
Yet I have been a tree in midst of wood,
And swarms of new things known as good
That had no sense in my head's sight before.

#35 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 06:20 PM:

The square root of the sum of the squares of the sides.

Wow, I missed this one the first time I looked through. It's all great. Mad props to, er, 'Drew.

#36 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 06:20 PM:

Donne is fairly easy, too:

No man is an isle, whole on its own,
each man is a piece of the big land, a part of the main
if a clod be washed away by the sea,
The Big Land in the West is the less, as well as if a point were,
as well as if a house of thy friends or of thine own were
any man's death makes me less, because I am tied up with all men
and thus don't send to know for whom the bell tolls
it tolls for thee.

--Mary Aileen

#37 ::: Robin Z ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 06:23 PM:

Oh, and I would be glad to see mine in the One Beat Book of Verse, if it is judged worth the place. It does not seem half as good as those that others' have put here.

#38 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 06:23 PM:

Donne is fairly easy

Oops. Make that: Donne works well; don't need to change much.

--Mary Aileen

#39 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 06:41 PM:

I wonder what this does to some of the standard tests of readability: those measures which try to factor in word length and sentence length to indicate such things as the reading age.

Oh, what the heck... [Googles for original text]

Churchill throws up a lot more Grammar-check queries, and gets a Flesch Grade Index of 8.1

The monosyllable version gets a score of 5.8

Churchill feels more readable. And I think I see a couple of cases where a thesaurus has misled you; "more and more trust" is not the same as "growing confidence", not in this context,

#40 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 06:45 PM:

Muse, sing me now the wrath of Chill
That sowed Troy's fields with dead.
King Ag gave back the sun-priest's girl
But took Chill's from his bed.

Chill sulked, but his friend Pat got dressed
As him and was speared through.
Chill then went out to fight with Heck,
Chased him, and killed him too.

#41 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 07:10 PM:

Didn't use a thesaurus, but it was the best my brain could come up with. Do you have a better idea? "More and more trust in our skill," maybe? I rejected "faith" as having the wrong connotations.

I'm curious, what else struck you as bad thesaurus use?

It also occurred to me that "landing grounds" probably refers to amphibious assault rather than planes. Oh well.

#42 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 07:57 PM:

No, there's no doubt that "landing grounds" are for airborne forces, which Germany had already used in Norway and Holland. Look at the pattern, and particularly that "beaches" is used. The sequence starts with the seas and oceans, and then we get beaches, landing-grounds, fields, streets, and finally hills. It's the sequence of an army being forced ever backwards.

"We shall fight on the drop zones" would carry the meaning, but it doesn't have quite the rhetorical force of the original.

Reviewing the original, I think it's Churchill's use of "confidence" that you struggle with, both times. The first time, where you use "faith", I think "trust" would work. It's Churchill saying he trusts everyone to do their job. But the second time, it's self-confidence he refers to.

#43 ::: Zimbalist Palmer ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 10:34 PM:

If you’d like a break with a
polysyllablisticallyesqueian song parody artist just click my name, Zimbalist Palmer, for the world's funniest
I-I-I-iconoclast TOR Hershman.

If you haven't heard TOR, you haven't heard it all.

Best Regards, Zimp

#44 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 11:00 PM:

"sesquipedelian" is the word, I think.

I don't know half the stuff here, to my shame. It's hard to check the net for them, too. What was Dave L.'s one based on, or is it his own?

And did you take Chill and Heck and the rest straight from the old blind Greek, or is it meant to be a take on a verse in our own fair tongue?

(I can now only see the kings at Troy as celts, if they are to be called 'Chill' and 'Pat'.)

Right, I think that's the last time I write a post in all monosyllables.

#45 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2005, 11:31 PM:

As I don't know Greek, I had to skim that tale as it was versed by Rob, Spear-Rule's Son. (I spose Chill should be "Khill", but hey.) I had thought to try more of it, but how many spears through the guts can one fit in just one post? And so the quick end. Sigh.

#46 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 12:19 AM:

Film Crit One Oh One: Troy

The King of Greece, who had big dreams, was that Cox dude.
The guy that fought, but had no use, for him was Pitt.
Bloom swiped the Queen and ran for Troy to do what's lewd.
The Greeks, they hit the beach and made a siege of it.
The Toole guy, who was King out there, said, "We are screwed."
His son, who knew the script, said, "Things ain't half bad yet."
Pitt's pal put on his hat and got a hole in him,
It was a big fat goof, but still the sand got wet,
And blood must pay for blood, so things got all too grim.
Sean Bean then built a horse and sacked the great big set.

#47 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 12:20 AM:

Uh, well, no, that wasn't an adaptation. Sorry, got carried away with the moment thing.

#48 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 01:21 AM:

Dave Bell,

I was sensitive to the connotation problems in both those places and several others, but there's always a question of whether you want to hit the precise meaning of the word or try to preserve the pacing; doing both is sometimes impossible. I certainly don't think I have improved on the original in any way! This exercise really brings home to me the lightning/lightning bug distinction.

Good to know my first instinct about "landing grounds" was right after all.

#49 ::: Ellen Fremedon ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 01:26 AM:

candle: Dave Luckett's is a stanza from Swinburne's "The Garden of Proserpina" (and a very nice take on it, too.)

#50 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 03:22 AM:

Thanks, Ellen and Julie - and kind of indirectly to Dave L. and Mike Ford for writing such good stuff.

I'm always in the market for a shorter Iliad. And shorter Swinburne, for that matter.

#51 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 04:28 AM:

Did someone say, "Shorter Swinburne"?

The No-Trump of Time
by Al Chuck Swin

Ere we split,
Here’s the bit:

Don’t you cry,
Whoops, we die.

Here’s my suit,
Tastes like fruit.

Love’s like wine,
I made mine.

What to do?
You ain’t true.

We’d be neat,
But you cheat.

Things go crunch,
Sun’s for lunch.

Things fall down,
Heck, let’s drown.

Drop the bomb:
I want Mom.

Wrack and rue,
Want you too.

Big sea drinks,
Death just stinks.

Can’t you see?
Me! Me! Me!

And what’s worse,
I write verse.

Give me ease,
Come on, please!

Dead as one
Sounds like fun.

And yet more
When you snore.

Still, we kissed
Ere you dissed.

What’s the use?
Guess I lose.

Did not hitch,
That’s a bitch.

I was pure!
Yes, I’m sure.

Here’s a gate.
‘Course I’m straight.

Ain’t been had,
Now I’m mad.

Girls and boys,
They got toys.

On their back,
Don’t know jack.

You won’t change,
Ain’t that strange?

Lone am I,
Guess I’ll cry.

And I’ve seen
You’re just mean.

Here’s a dress:
God, say yes!

Here’s my grief,
Old dead leaf.

Here’s my schtick,
I’m a dick.

Here’s my game,
Just the same.

Do I whine?
You’re not mine.

Where to go?
Mom will know.

Call me odd,
Mom’s my broad.

Sleep and blink
In the drink.

Time’s a cloak
Get the joke?

Mom, she’s cold!
I feel old.

I said old?
I’ve got mold.

What the heck,
Hope’s a wreck.

All of our
Grapes are sour.

One fair wench --
Nah, too French.

And her bard
Died real hard.

First you’re sung,
Then you’re stung.

But he’s gone,
I drone on.

Here’s a rose,
Up your nose.

Sense may rule,
I’m still cool.

I’m still here,
Is that clear?

See my art,
Stomp my heart.

Out of ink:
What you think?

#52 ::: Brooke C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 05:24 AM:

From the greed of hag and hell-imp that into rags would tear you
May the ghosts that stand by the air-clad man in the Book of Moons all spare you
That still your fierce five wits be tame, stay close heeled at your feet
Nor leave you wild to walk with Tom
Bare-legged to beg your meat.
While I do sing, "Any food, any meat, please,
Meat, or drink, or old clothes warm?"
Come, young maids dear, and have no fear:
Poor Tom will do no harm.

...and I feel like a butcher. My first attempt only got as far as:

In lands of the East did great K. Khan
A posh fun-house with dome have built...

before I had to slam my head against my keyboard a few times and go get a glass of something strong. Am still vaguely amused by how much "K. Khan" sounds like "King Kong"...which would be more appropriate for the tone I had going, there.

Herrick's "Lovers how they come and part" seemed a little less intimidating, though the rearranging of two-syllable words can be frustrating:

A mage-made ring they bear about them still,
To be, and not seen, when and where they will.
They tread on clouds, and though they do oft fall
They fall like dew, but make no noise at all.
So love to love they will with no sound come
As shades steal soft into the pear or plum,
And air-like, leave no change that may still show
The place in which they met, or did in part once know.

#53 ::: Matt ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 09:46 AM:

It's not verse, but if you want to learn about Al (Einstein) and Ari (Aristotle), there's

http://www.muppetlabs.com/~breadbox/txt/al.html

#54 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 10:37 AM:

Brooke C:
You aren't kidding-that's nearly impossible! Here's as far as I got:

In the far East did the Great Khan
A dome have built to house his fun.
Where Alph, stream of the gods, did run
Through caves for which no end there be
Down to the black cold of the sea.

(Only "Great Khan" was Ghengis, wasn't it? Aw phooey.)

#55 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 11:01 AM:

On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer (and Discovering that Keats Used the Words he did for a Very Good Reason, to Whit, That They Were the True and Only Lightning, and not Rhyme nor Scansion can Wash out a Word of it.)

Much have I gone round in the realms of gold
And lots of good fine states and fair realms seen
Round lots of cool west sea isles have I been
Which bards in fee to God of Bards still hold.
Oft of one great wide place had I been told
Which Troy's blind bard held still so pure and green
But not once did I breathe its air so clean
Till I heard this text speak out loud and bold.
Then felt I like those folk who scan the skies
When some new world first sweeps in to their ken
Or like that man of Spain whose keen sharp eyes
First stared at seas of east, and all his men
Looked strange to learn their maps were all but lies:
New worlds of words more fair than any then.

#56 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 11:34 AM:

Sam Coll Ridge is not that hard. You just have to think slant, like Mike Ford does when he make Al Chuck Swin small (and makes my head hurt). Thus:


The Great Khan

In Old Town Xan did the Great Khan
A pomp-filled dome of vice have made:
Where Alph, the most pure stream, had ran
Through caves which are not marked by man
  Down to a sea sans days.
So twice five miles of good farm ground
With walls and spires were all wrapped round:
And there were herb plots bright with snake-like rills,
Where bloomed all of those nice scent trees;
And here were woods as old as the hills,
With folds where sun shines on the green.

But oh! that deep, oft sung of ditch which slants
Down the green hill and through a pine tree stand!
A wild place! as god-filled and spell-bound
As one where in the wan moon's light now haunts
A girl who wails loud for her love from hell!
And from that ditch, where roils don't cease to seeth,
As if this earth in fast thick pants could breathe,
A strong jet for a sec was forced:
And in that swift half-there, half-not-there burst
Huge shards jumped up like ground-bounced hail,
Or chaff-filled grain threshed by the flail:
And with those rocks which danced for all of time
It flung up for a sec that most pure stream.
Five miles it wound all round its maze-like way,
Through wood and dale the pure stream ran
Then reached the caves not marked by man,
And sank with lots of noise to that dead bay:
And in this noise the Great Khan heard from far
His dead folks' ghosts speak words of war!
  The shade from this large dome of toys
  Floats in the midst of waves;
  Where once was heard the mixed-up noise
  From both the jets and caves.
It was a rare deed made for vice,
A sun-filled dome with caves of ice!

  A young girl with a lute
  I thought once that I saw:
  It was an south-land maid
  And on her lute she played,
  And sang of her home's Mount.
  Could I bring it back in me,
  Her string band work and song,
  To such deep joy it'd win me,
That with that tune so loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sun-filled dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Look out! Look out!
His eyes, they flash! his hair, it floats!
Weave charms on him three times all round,
And close your eyes in god-filled dread
For he hath on the gods' food fed,
And drunk the milk of God's own land.


---L.

#57 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 11:36 AM:

I wish Dave L. would do more of "The Ground of Death's Wife." And cand. would tell me who did the first form of "The Drowned Man" and the next one. I can't work it out.

---L.

#58 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 01:54 PM:

I can do this, but I am not as good as you folks.

John Cash, Man In Black, might have sung: [1]

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I make my eyes gape wide all of the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you're mine,
I walk the line

I find it real, real not-hard to be true [2]
I find I am lone when each day is through
Yes, I'll say I am a fool for you [3]
Since you are mine,
I walk the line

As sure as night is dark and day is light
I keep you on my mind both day and night
And all the joy I've known proves that it's right
Since you are mine,
I walk the line

You've got a way to keep me on your side
You give me cause for love that I can't hide
For you I know I'd even try to turn the tide
Because you're mine,
I walk the line.

[1] (my source for words)

[2]I do not like this line but I am stuck with it.

[3] Beat count off in source song; left as is

There were but six words I had to change.

I found a song by that old new york punk band with but two words to change- "Beat On The Brat".

#59 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 02:27 PM:

Cheers, Mike Ford. I love The Triumph of Time, but every time I go back to read it I find myself wilting less than half way through.

Larry: the two I did after the Larkin were The Castaway by William Cowper (or Bill the Cowp) and The Darkling Thrush by Thom, er, Hard. I don't have an alternate title for it, though. The Thrush at Dusk?.

#60 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 03:59 PM:

I'd probably render Thomas Hardy as "Tom Tough," but then you've already seen what I did to Swinburne. Sans mal, of course.

#61 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 04:14 PM:

Hee! I like "Tom Tough." Though "Tom is Hard" would be more clear, I think.

Jo -- Nice. Do you mind if I add you to the Book?

---L.

#62 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 04:33 PM:

The Lord guards me as his sheep; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green fields. He leads me by the still pools.
He brings my soul back to health. He leads me in the ways of the good, for his name's sake.
Though I walk through the vale of the shade of death, I shall fear no ill, for thou art with me.
Thy rod and thy staff, they give me strength.
Thou hast set a board for me in the sight of those who hate me. Thou hast poured oil on my head; wine flows from the brim of my cup.
And thy love and grace shall come with me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord till the end of days.

Way too easy, since there are a gazillion translations to draw on.

#63 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 07:05 PM:

By the way, I've meant to say all day that we've now got a place for all to play on L.J., the group wordsofonebeat. Which is not a word of four beats, but four words of one beat, sans space -- L.J. does not like long names.

---L.

#64 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 08:53 PM:

Swinburne is polysyllabic by inclination. The verse form for "The Garden of Proserpine" also relies on disyllabic rhymes, and really doesn't work well with monosyllables. The original is one of my favourite poems, but on reflection, I don't think I did Mr Swinburne any favours.

#65 ::: tim rogers ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 12:51 AM:

This is fun!

---

"Big Cat" by Bill Blake

Big cat big cat bright your flame
In night's woods I call your name
What god's hands or what god's eyes
First thought up your fierce fierce lines?

In what deep sea, in what far skies
First shone flames in your dark eyes?
On what wings were thought your lines?
What white palms burnt with your shines?

And what joints there and what art
Twist, mold, carve your fierce fierce heart?
When your heart did start to beat
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What tool pounds, what tool binds?
What flame burns deep in that mind?
What flat stone and what dread grasp
Does your fierce fierce claw dare clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And that god bathed us with tears,
Did he take pride in his sham?
Did he who made you make the lamb?

Big cat big cat bright your flame
In night's woods I call your name
What god's hands or what god's eyes
First thought up your fierce fierce lines?

#66 ::: Tad Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 08:25 AM:

Although it is not poetry, I believe that many of you would enjoy a bit of virtuoso philosophy from the late George Boolos:
"Godel's second incompleteness theorem explained in words of one syllable".

This was an article published in MIND, the leading journal of academic philosophy, back in 1994 (when I had the honor of being on its editorial board, though at the time I thought it an honour).

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2346/is_n409_v103/ai_14916922

#67 ::: Tad Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 08:58 AM:

Also, on reading all--

man, too much brilliance here. I'm in awe.

My first prize to Tim Rogers, who turns Blake into a jump-rope rhyme sung by the coolest girl-group ever. "Fierce fierce" just gets better with every repetition.

Did the Blakettes ever record a B-side?

#68 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 09:39 AM:

LN -- help yourself.

Tim -- "bathed" is two syllables, and has to be for the scansion. Other than that, I think that's the best one yet.

#69 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 10:02 AM:

"Bath'd us with his tears" works.

(someone told me once, "neither the lust for wealth nor the lust for power is stronger than the lust to change another man's draft.")

#70 ::: Tad Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 10:36 AM:

Here is Dr. Johnson, ridiculing an emendation proposed by an earlier Shakespearean scholar, Hanmer:

"For
---Dismay'd not this
Our captains Macbeth and Banquo?-Yes

[Hanmer proposed the emendation:]
---Dismay'd not this
Our captains brave Macbeth and Banquo?-Yes

[Johnson assesses Hanmer's editorial prowess:]

Such harmless industry may, surely, be forgiven, if it cannot be praised: may he therefore never want a monosyllable, who can use it with such wonderful dexterity."

This prompted by Sandy's reference to the lust for meddling. But I'd like to repeat Johnson's wish in a more charitable way, addressed to the amazing talents on display above:

may they never want a monosyllable, who can use it with such wonderful dexterity!

#71 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 10:37 AM:

Nice one, Tim.

---L.

#72 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 10:42 AM:

One I met who had come from an old land
said: Cut from their trunk stand two legs of stone
in the great sand. Near them, on the ground,
half sunk, lies a face that has broke, whose frown
and sneer of one whose will is never bound,
tell that one carved it who the heart-fires read
which yet are here, stamped on these cold dead things,
though he who felt them is these long years dead.
And on the rest of stone these words still show:
"All men know my name, I am King of Kings;
Look on my works, ye great ones, and know woe!"
Naught else is left. Round the great one's rot,
though its wreck is huge, the sands more so,
lone, with no end, and with no bounds nor blot.

OK, not the best ever, but not bad for 15 minutes with a rhyming dictionary, if I do say so.

#73 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 10:43 AM:

I should be off the machine and washing dishes about now, but can't resist this wee bit of Bill the Shake:
To be, or not to be
That's what bugs me.

#74 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 11:33 AM:

Come what may, that is what we will try to do. That is the will of our King's men--each man of them. That is the will of the Moot and of our whole land.

And this line suddenly made me think of 'Uncleftish Beholding'. Anyone for deromanising?
Thinking about it, it's remarkable how little deromanising some passages need - apart from an unavoidable rescheduling of the battle to 1862:

Four score and six years syne, our sires brought forth on this earth a new thing, free-got, sworn to the thought that all men are peers. Now we fight a great war, to test if our thing, or any thing so got, can last. We are met on a great field of that war. We are come to give a piece of it as a long home for those who died that the thing might live. This we may do with all right.

But, in a more great way, we cannot give, we cannot bless this ground. The brave men, quick and dead, who fought here have blessed it, far above our might to make more or less. The world will take small note of what we say here - but it can not but think of what they did.

It is more for us, the quick, we here be sworn to the great work still with us - from these great dead we take more faith to the goal for which they gave the last share of their strength- that we here swear that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this thing shall have a new free birth, and that rule of the folk, by the folk, for the folk shall not go out from this earth.

#75 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 01:06 PM:

CS, it beats the one I did way back when. And more to the point, it keeps me from one more try. Good job on both counts.

tim, I had thought of that verse and just could not bring me to say "big cat" -- it may be that great cat would have worked for me, but now you've done it and done it well, so I have no more to say.

Jo, nice one. What, were you there??

LN, you show us all how it's done. My hat's off.

Mike, you rule too. Though on the choice of bard, I have a bone to pick with him. He wrote a snide verse on the just-dead Wilde, in Hell for his gay ways, that irks me. A knife job by a crabbed mind. As I wrote on that page in my book, "And if there's a hell for pigs, then swine burn too."

#76 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 01:56 PM:

I
Ah, in the bright, clear month of May
When fresh buds burst out from each tree true
Then in the heart that beats here,
My love burst forth from me too.

All in the bright, clear month of May
When all the birds sang in the sky,
Then I told her from my heart,
I longed for her to be nigh.

II
Out of my tears they go forth,
A bunch of flow'rs in bloom.
And all my sighs, they turn to
Fair birds that sing in gloom.

And if you should love me, my fair love,
I'll give to you the blooms, each one
And through your glass will you hear
The song the birds have spun.

VII
I bear no grudge, though my slain heart may be the judge
Weep for the love that's dead
Weep for the love that's dead
I bear no grudge. I bear no grudge.

Though you may shine, as with a hard gem's light
Still there's no gleam, in your heart's day-long night
I know it well...

I bear no grudge, though my slain heart may be the judge.
I saw you in last night's dreams
And saw that in your soul, no light streams
And saw the snake that grips and eats your heart,
I saw, my love, how sad and lost thou art.
I bear no grudge, I bear no grudge.

XI
A young man loves a fair lass,
Who picks out a man -- not him --
But that man makes his own choice
And this makes the fair maid grim.

The maid is vexed and goes to
The next man who comes her way
And with this one she'll stay now
The young man has naught to say.

This is a tale that's so old
Yet each time it haps, it's new
And for the man who's shut out,
It breaks his heart in two!

(From "Verse Man's Love," first penned auf Deutsch and set as songs. I might do more some time, but I have work to put off.)

#77 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 02:26 PM:

ajay:
How about if you add "One year from now, 'twill be..." to the start. Adds a bit of clunk , but brings the date to right.

To Stop By Woods on Eve With Snow
by Bob Frost

I know who holds the lien on this field
His house on our town does yield
He will not see me halt right here
To see his woods with cold flake fill'd

My wee horse must think it queer
To stop sans a barn or house near
'Tween the woods and iced-up lake
Cold as it gets for all the year

He gives his gear straps a shake
To ask if this the course I mean to take
The sole sound left is the sweep
Of light wind and soft blown flake

The woods invite me, dark and deep
But I have vows that I must keep
And miles to go ere I sleep
And miles to go ere I sleep

Please be kind to a non-poet!

#78 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 05:40 PM:

*claps at Carr S., Kip, and H.J.L.*

Kip, I used "Stryped Cat" when I did it. I did not think of "Big Cat," I don't think. But that was a while since.

---L.

#79 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 08:02 PM:

"Stryped" is a nice touch!

#80 ::: tim rogers ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 10:07 PM:

I am weeping at your appreciation!! Thank you!!

Anyway, I worked selflishly through most of "Songs of Innocence" last night, and I've come up with a publishable work, if I do say so myself. So much of it is monosyllabic already; it's just that the two-syllable stuff in Blake really anchors the poem. You change it to two one-syllable words and it pushes the meaning one beat closer to the edge. It's good that "Tyger" ends how it begins, though.

You know, I thought of "Stryped Cat" initially, though "Big Cat" makes it feel more otherworldly for [personal?] reasons.

Me and my guitarist -- well, HE was drunk! -- tried to make a rock and roll song out of this last night, maybe like four in the morning. So yeah, he lays down some Chuck-Berry-style chords, and I start singing. And . . . the only melody that comes out is "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." We felt like superheroes for all of five minutes, for having realized that "The Tyger" is really just "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", music stripped out, given apocalyptic, evolutionary overtones. Then we realized that maybe lots of people knew this already, and he took another shot of whiskey, and I just fell asleep feeling unpopular all over again.

#81 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 11:31 PM:

Tim, I hope you'll post your Blake, here or there, as you will.

I also did one of the Songs of Age, once. Though that's not a good name for them. Blake does not set Youth on Age, with those books, but ... things I can't say in good words.

---L.

#82 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 01:36 AM:

Be away from here for a few days and what happens, people start writing in monosyllables? Oy!

So much for the songs of Pancho Sanchez in "Man of La Mancha," with their words that have more than one syllable/beat in them!

"I like him, I really like him.
"Pull out my fingernails, one by one
"I like him."

#83 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 02:17 AM:

Er, maybe "the woods, they call me", jhlipton? It is always those iambic disyllables that cause the problem, because we all tend to read straight across them. Anyway, good job.

I had to mark a load of scripts just now, and so I spent far too much of the time with the bard. I know this one has been done, and Mike Ford is right when he says that to pick these is to cheat; so it's not too good, but it's done, and here it is:

[One One Six]

Let me not when true minds are to be wed
say there's aught wrong in this: love is not love
which can but change when it to change is led,
or bends when one who moves makes it to move:
Oh no! It is a point fixed firm in space,
That looks on storms and yet has not been shook;
the star that tells the ship which way to face,
whose worth can not be known, though height be took.
Love's not Time's fool, though red-hued lips and cheeks
may yet be reached by strokes of his curved scythe;
love is not changed with his brief hours and weeks,
but bears it out 'til Christ shall take his tithe,
If this be false, and that charge on me proved,
I have not writ, nor no man yet has loved.

#84 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 02:26 AM:

The Fall of the Men of Zad

The foe he came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his men they all shone in their silk and their gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the deep,
When the blue wave rolls out on the sea as we sleep.

Like the leaves of the wood when Spring's child puts on green,
That host with its flags as the sun set were seen:
Like the leaves of the wood when Fall's rags are all down,
That host on the morn lay strewn dead on the ground.

For the one who brings Death spread his wings on the blast,
And he breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the prone ones went dead and waxed chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, once for all they grew still!

And there lay the steed with his nose flared out wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his mouth lay there white on the soil,
As cold as the spray on the rocks where it roils.

And there lay his lord, now all warped and grown pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
From the tents came no sound as the flags slumped, not flown,
The spears not held high and the horns not once blown.

And the wives left at home beat their breasts as they wail,
And the false stocks are cracked in the false shrine of Baal;
For their might, with no blow struck by spear or by sword,
Hath run like hot snow in the glance of the Lord!

#85 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 02:55 AM:

And so, for my sins (not so bad, in fact):

When I think how so soon my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one skill whose worth 'tis death to hide
No use to me now, though my soul more bent
To serve my Lord, so that it might be sent
To show my worth, lest he come back and chide;
"So must I work, with no light as a guide?"
I ask, but soon I see what must be meant
And put a stop to it: "God doth not need
Mere work by man, or his own gifts, who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is like a king. No few when asked will speed
And post on land and sea and take no rest:
They serve him too who can but stand and wait."


#86 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 10:30 AM:

Gnah! I think that's the first Lord B. in good words I've seen. I tried that one once, and could not get far.

And nice ones, cand. Will's last two lines are nice, no?

---L.

#87 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 01:07 PM:

One more from Will the Bard, in re Mac, a King of the Scots who mourns the death of his wife:

The next day and the next day and the one past that
Creeps in this small still gait from day to day
To the last full stop of the time we know
And all the days ere now have lit fools
The way to death and dust. Douse the flame from the wax!
Life is a but a shade which as a ham doth walk to strut and fret
When the call comes to star and then is heard no more.
It is a speech told by a oaf or dolt, full of sound and bang and crash.
What does it mean? Got me!


#88 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 02:28 PM:

Loathe as I am to use all caps, they were in the verse I made this from:

THROUGH ME YOU GO IN TO THE SAD BURG
THROUGH ME YOU GO WHERE WOE DOES NOT END
THROUGH ME YOU JOIN THE ONES WHO ARE LOST

TO BE JUST WAS THE WISH OF THE ONE WHO MADE ME
I WAS MADE BY THE STRENGTH OF THE LORD
THE HEIGHT OF WIT AND THE FIRST LOVE

ERE ME WAS NAUGHT MADE THAT ENDS AT ALL
AND I WILL LAST FOR ALL OF TIME
LEAVE ALL HOPE, YOU WHO COME IN HERE

#89 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 04:11 PM:

Will's last two lines are nice, no?

I don't think I get what you mean (my fault, no doubt). But yes, I guess so. The Lord B. one is a great job, if you ask me - thanks, S. And I'm glad to see that the gates of Dis have got their due too. Those lines are hard to put in a new tongue at the best of times. Nice one.

#90 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 02:08 AM:

One of the best short works in our tongue is like this now, with no need to change.

---

My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of gain.
The day is gone and I yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

The spring is past, and yet it hath not sprung,
The fruit is dead, and yet the leaves are green,
My youth is gone, and yet I am but young,
I saw the world, and yet I was not seen,
My thread is cut, and yet it was not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I lookt for life and saw it was a shade,
I trode the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I am but made.
The glass is full, and now the glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

-- Chidiock Tichborne, 1558-1586

#91 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 06:05 AM:

This one has been bouncing around in my head for a few days. I'm afraid that the substitute rhyme words I chose make the point a bit too early in the poem, but it's the best I've been able to come up with.


One Art
by Liz More-Than-A-Priest

This art (of how to lose things) can, with ease, be learned;
To get lost, it seems, for lots of stuff is in its soul
But loss means no one stole, no one has been spurned.

Lose a thing each day. Quite soon it will be clear, luck has turned;
The keys, the hours, with no pain they go down a black hole.
Skill in this art is no more than a goal which can be learned.

Then try to lose more, lose things fast, this speed has been earned;
The wheres, and whos, and hows, and why one took a stroll.
As each loss breaks like a wave on a roll, do not feel spurned.

Yes, I lost my mom's watch. And look here! it burned -
the house I loved most, last of three loved homes, now coal.
Skill in this art is no more than a goal which I have learned.

I lost two towns, streets and all, for which I have since yearned.
Some realms I owned, the Nile, the Alps - it takes its toll -
I miss them, but this is my role, no point to think I'm spurned.

---And at last, the loss of you (the smile when you turned
your head, your voice, the jokes), well, no lies. My goal?
It's clear this art is one I have well learned
though it may look like (Write it!) like I am spurned.

#92 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 09:23 AM:

Nice to work with, I meant, as well as strong lines in their own right.

Oh -- nice one, O.C.W. Yes, the rhyme might tip the hat soon, but it's still good. May I add?

---L.

#93 ::: Tad Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 09:27 AM:

oliviacw--

That is amazing. That, I have to tell you, has just taken this competition to a whole new level.

Bishop's poem is an old favorite--I first read it on the London tube in the early '90s, and memorized it within a few stops.

But your version--it runs some risk of actually being *better* than the original: more complex, more deftly woven, more richly resonant. The re-use of the inner-line end-rhyme as an internal rhyme in the third line of the tercet is something not in Bishop, which I think pays off.

This just strikes me as far and away the best thing done here. A lot of the renditions have been tortured (there's a lamentable pun for you), and I read them noting somewhat mechanically that, yes, they did convey the gist of the original, and, yes, all the words were monosyllabic (provided a free hand with dieresis). I read them, in other words, with all the joy with which one corrects a completed cross-word puzzle.

Yours and Tim Roger's Blake strike me as *new poems*, with new virtues not had by the originals. Tim's buoyant beat and voguing repetition reminded me of supermodels jumping double-dutch (there's innocence and experience for you). Not Blake, but really, really good. (Before I suggested a girl-group called the Blakettes. If you see boys instead, how about the Dark Satanic Mills Brothers?)

No knocks on Tim, but yours is just even *more* impressive--rhythmically, emotionally, imagistically, everything. Wow.

#94 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 07:33 PM:

[oliviacw's] and Tim Roger's Blake strike me as *new poems*, with new virtues not had by the originals.

Without meaning to take anything away from the two you mention, which are indeed extremely good, I think the same could be said at least of Dave Luckett's Swinburne (note the feminine rhymes) and S. Dawson's Donne: certainly without knowing the originals well I could easily have been convinced that those poems had been composed in monosyllables in the first place.

Perhaps it comes down to how well you know the original poem and how much you have invested in it. Personally, I've never really liked Blake all that much, and I'm not a huge fan of the Bishop poem either. Of course, these facts might disqualify me from having a worthwhile opinion on anything poetry-related...!

#95 ::: S. Dawson ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 11:03 PM:

Thank you, candle--as someone noted upthread, Donne is easy because so little has to be changed! I've not been trying for "new poems" (even though that's what inevitably results, since "poetry is what gets lost in translation") because I can't bear to throw out lines that already work just for the sake of reworking them. For me, thinking of this as more than just a parlour game carries a definite whiff of sacrilege.

#96 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 12:25 AM:

Wow, thanks! But really a lot of the Bishop poem was easy to convert: except for the original AA rhyme scheme (master/disaster) it's mostly monosyllabic or straightforward enough to adapt to change readily. I was impressed with L.N. Hammer's offering of the Great Khan - when I first read this thread, I thought of Kubla Khan, but decided that it would just be impossible.

#97 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 03:33 PM:

For a bit of a toughie, how about "Do not go genttle into that good night"? I had a bit of a think about it, and decided it was waaaaaaay beyond my meager talents.

#98 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 09:00 PM:

Fair enough, S. Dawson. Perhaps the point is that actually these poems are strong enough to survive some level of paraphrase.

If we're moving on to a wish-list, does anyone think it would be possible to do "Jabberwocky"?

#99 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 09:59 PM:

TNH did "Do not go, sans fight, in to that good night," some time back, but it's not on the web. It may be we could get her to run it here once more?

"My prime of youth" is on the LJ page. I put it there. That's one hell of a poem, if you ask me.

#100 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2005, 10:23 PM:

'Twas four; and toves, so live with slime,
Twirled, spun, and drilled holes in the wabe
Thin mop birds full of woe passed time
As out mome raths all grabe.

(The Egg Man parsed those terms up there
With no more help, it would not do
To make up shit. It's just not fair,
And so I must leave you.)

#101 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 10:16 AM:

Yes, TNH should post "Do not go, sans fight, in to that good night." She should, she should! Her fans plead!


The Jabbed Wock
by Lew Song

It brilled, and the quite slithe toves
Did gyre and gimp in the wabe:
The bores had mimsed in all the groves,
And the mome raths out did grabe.

"Look out for the black Jabbed Wock, my son!
The jaws the bite, the claws that catch!
Look out for the Twice Jubbed bird, and shun
The vent fumes of the Snatch!"

He took his vore-made sword in hand:
Long time the quite Manx foe he sought --
And then rest he by the Twice Tum tree,
And stood a while in thought.

And, as in thoughts of uff he stood,
The Jabbed Wock, with its eyes of flame,
Came with a whiff through the dark tuldged wood,
And popped breath as it came!

One two! One two! And through and through
The vore-made blade went snick then snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He umphed his way on back.

"And hast thou slain the black Jabbed Wock?
Come to my arms, my bright beamed boy!
Oh day of frabjs! Call "Oh"! Call "Hey"!"
He said with a snort in his joy.

It brilled, and the quite slithe toves
Did gyre and gimp in the wabe:
The bores had mimsed in all the groves,
And the mome raths out did grabe.


---L.

#102 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 10:43 AM:

Daire Town Air

Would God I were the soft bud of the fruit tree
That floats and falls from off the twist-shaped bough
To lie and faint, there, in your soft fair breast be,
There in your soft fair breast as that does now!
Or would I were the fruit that grows from out that bloom
For you to pluck, as you glide by so cold
While sun and shade your robe of lawn with light plume,
Your robe of lawn, and your hair's spun gold.

Yea, would to God I were in where the rose is
That leans to kiss you as you float on by,
While on a branch down low a bud that blows is
A bud that blows but to touch you Queen.
Nay, since you will not love, would I were there now,
So glad to grow, there in the flow'r-decked path
That so your gold foot might press me so fair now,
Press me so fair e'en though its touch mean death!

Scans that seem odd are to match the source. The last line in first verse, for one, is not changed.

ps to L: I took the M-word to mean "of bobbed tail," like those cats. I guess I was hung up on the sense of things there, but as the man says, "Take care of the sounds and the sense will take care of its self."

#103 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2005, 10:45 AM:

One more thing: TNH, might you change the link at the top of the post to match the LJ group? It might save folks some time. Ta!

#104 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2005, 11:57 PM:

Hushed is this night, blessed is this night
All is calm, all is bright
'Round the maid so pure and her Child
Blessed the babe is, so soft and so mild
Sleep in God's love and peace
Sleep in God's love and peace

Hushed is this night, blessed is this night
Herds' men quake at the sight
Light of God from on high is poured
Hosts of heav'n all sing 'Hail to the Lord.'
Christ the Son of God's born;
Christ the Son of God's born.

Hushed is this night, blessed is this night
Son of God, love's pure light.
Love's light streams from the child's blest face,
With the dawn of God's love and grace,
Christ, my Lord, at Thy Birth
Christ, my Lord, at Thy Birth.

...That's based on how they sing it here. A close look at the Deutsch (and a word for word gloss) gives me this:

Hushed the night! Blessed the night!
All now sleep; see the light
Round this soft and heavn-blest pair.
Round God's child with curls in his hair
Sleep in God's love and peace,
Sleep in God's love and peace.

Hushed the night! Blessed the night!
Son of God, love's pure light
Beams of light shine out from thy face,
With the dawn of our hope for His grace,
Christ, my Lord at thy birth,
Christ, my Lord at thy birth.

Hushed the night! Blessed the night!
Brought the world grace and light,
Down from God's home's gold-hued height
Down to earth it brings the sight:
God, as one of our own,
God, as one of our own.

Hushed the night! Blessed the night!
By his love, by his might
God each child of His has held
With us in his love doth meld
Christ, all lands of the earth,
Christ, all lands of the earth.

Hushed the night! Blessed the night!
Saved us all from our plight
God the world from woe hath freed,
Out of dark who His word doth heed.
All the world is spared,
All the world is spared.

Hushed the night! Blessed the night!
Herds' men first saw the sight
Of wing'd choirs who sang Hark to the Lord
Near and far they sent out the word
Christ, the son of God's born,
Christ, the son of God's born.

(A small change or three were made since I put this on LJ. Can't leave it be, I guess. Now do I go change that to match this?)

#105 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 06:57 AM:

God rest ye glad guys
let naught make you not glad
take note that christ
our christ was born
on his day of birth
To save us all from the bad guy's power
when we were led to stray

Good news of good times and joy
Good news of good times and joy

----------------------------------------------

Okay how about the lyrics to

Supes -

Um did did did um did did ay
Um did did did um did did ay
Supes
Even though the sound of it
sure is quite stoop
If you say it loud enough
You'll sound like you've hit a loop
Supes
Um did did did um did did ay
Um did did did um did did ay
Because I was afraid to speak
When I was just a lad
My dad gave me nose a tweak
And told me I was bad
But then one day I learnt a word
That my poor nose did save
A word so big was the word I heard
That when I said this word I heard
My old dad said whoops
SUPES!
Even though the sound of it
sure is quite stoop
If you say it loud enough
You'll sound like you've hit a loop
Um did did did um did did ay
Um did did did um did did ay
So when the cat has got your tongue
There's no need look like you're deep in dung
Just think up this word
And then you've got a lot to say
But use it in the right way
Or it may change your life
One night I said it to me girl
And now me girl's my wife!
She's SUPES
She Stoops to win
She's Supes
SUPES
SUPES
SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPEEEEEEEES

#106 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 11:51 AM:

My jaw drops. To quote one of Will the Bard's girls, "I am like in a maze. I know not what to say."

---L.

#107 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 02:53 PM:

this is the song
that will not end
and it goes on and on my friend
some folks
sang it not too long back
and they sing it still cause
its on a real long track
this is the song
that will not end
and it goes on and on my friend
some folks
sang it not too long back
and they sing it still cause
its on a real long track
-oh no-
this is the song
that will not end
and it goes on and on my friend
some folks
sang it not too long back
and they sing it still cause
its on a real long track

#108 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2005, 09:59 PM:

The Ones Who Heard

'Is there some one up in there?' said the lone Man
And knocked on the moon-lit door;
And his horse in the hushed night champed on the grass
Of the soft green wood's ferned floor
And a bird flew up out of the stone roof
High o'er the lone man's head
And he smote on the dark door once more with his gloved hand;
'Is there some one up in there?' he said.
But no one came down to the lone Man;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned down and looked straight in his grey eyes,
Where he stood, his thoughts vexed, still.
But just a grey host of shades who heard him
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood and harked in the hush of the moon's light
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood and thronged the faint moon's beams on the dark stair,
That goes down, down to that still hall,
Ears pricked in an air that stirred and shook
By that one lone man's loud call.
And he felt in his heart the strange air,
Their still tongues that called back to his cry
While his horse moved, and cropped the dark turf,
'Neath the starred and leaf-roofed sky;
For he raised a fist and smote the door, a bit
More loud, and turned up his head:-
'Tell them I came, and no one met me,
That I kept my word,' he said.
Not once the least stir made the ones who heard,
Though each word that he spake
Fell and rang through the cool and dark air of the still house
From the one man left still 'wake:
Ay, they heard him step back to his steed then
And the sound of horse shoes on stone,
And how the hush surged to fill the night
When the hard-plunged hoofs were gone.

by Walt De La Mare

#109 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2005, 10:25 AM:

The Big Man At The Bat
by This Guy

The hopes were far from bright ones for the Mud Town nine that day;
The score stood four to two and there was but one round to play.
And then when old "Zip" died at first, and "Wheel" did much the same,
A grim hush fell like thin mush on the home fans of the game.

A few weak souls got up to go with heads hung low. The rest
Clung to that hope which dies not but lives on in each man's breast;
They thought if only Big Man could but get a whack at that --
We'd put up one-to-one odds now with his hands on the bat.

But Flynn preceded Big Man, as did no good James J. Blake,
And the first named was a weak sis and the next was but a cake;
So o'er all heads a black cloud, grim and full of cold rain, sat
For there seemed no chance at all that Big Man might get to the bat.

But Flynn legged it to first base, quite a shock to one and all,
And Blake, who no one cared for, tore the horse hide off the ball;
And when the dust had gone down, and the men at last could see,
There was J.J. safe at base two and Flynn camped out on Three.

Then from each throat and pair of lungs rose up as one a yell;
It rolled down 'cross the plains and bowled the cows down in the dell;
It knocked the sides of hills and came to bounce back on the flat,
For K.C., Big Man K.C., now had his turn at the bat.

There was such ease in the way he stepped so straight up to his place,
There was pride in how he stood, and how a smile shone on his face.
And when as he turned to the cheers and did but doff his hat,
No strange eye in the crowd could doubt just who was at the bat.

Stands full of eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
And all their tongues did laud him when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while his lithe foe on the mound ground that ball in his hip,
A gleam like knights of old shone in his eye and sneer-curled lip.

And now the hard-packed sphere flew at him through the air,
The big man stood and watched it like a king who could not care.
Close by his side, yet he flinched not as to the mitt it sped --
"That ain't my style," he told us. "Strike one," the score board said.

From the stands, so full of men and rage there rose an earth quake roar,
That washed forth like the storm waves on a far and storm-worn shore.
"Kill him! Kill that blind ump!" came a shout down from the stands,
And they might have done it, too, had not the Big Man raised his hand.

With a smile so great and pure which on his clean-cut face then shone;
He stilled the cries of blood lust; he bade the game go on;
He waved once to the mound and then once more the horse hide flew;
But still he paid it no mind and the score board said, "Strike two."

"Fraud!" cried the crowd as one man, and the far hills rang back 'fraud';
But one look of scorn from K.C. and the home team fans were awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw him flex and strain,
And they knew that now he would not let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone off from his lip, his teeth are clinched in hate;
He pounds hard like a mad zoo ape his ash bat on the plate.
And now the mound man holds the ball and now he lets it go,
And now the air is split by all the force that's in his blow.

Oh! there's a place in this land where the sun shines warm and bright;
A place where bands play glad tunes, and a place where hearts are light;
There's a place where men laugh and a place where kids all shout;
But there is no joy in Mud Town -- Big Man K.C. has struck out.

thanks to my chums on LJ for their help and sharp eyes

#110 ::: L.N. Hammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2005, 12:05 PM:

To Keep Will Yeats in Mind

I

He left us in the dead time of year:
The brooks were ice, the ports were all but dead,
And snow made our carved men lose their shapes;
The glass bulbs sank in the mouth of the end of day.
O all the means we have to mark it say
The day of his death was a cold dark day.

Far from where he lay ill
The wolves ran on through the fir woods,
The serf stream was not lured by the quays then in style;
By tongues that mourn
The death of the man was kept from his work.

But for him it was his last day in his self,
An eve of the nurse and wild news;
The states of his corpse left his rule,
The squares of his mind held no one,
A still hush took up the edge of town,
The flow of what he felt failed; he turned to those who like him.

Now he is strewn in some five score towns
And all took up by loves he did not know;
To find his joy in one more wood
And be paid for it by a new code of what's thought right.
The words of a dead man
Are changed in the guts of those who live.

But in the pomp and noise of the next day
When those who trade roar like beasts on the floor of the Bourse,
And the poor have all the aches they're used to,
And each in cell of his self can all but think he's free,
A few score of scores will think of this day
As one thinks of a day when one did a thing not quite the norm.

O all the means we have to mark it say
The day of his death was a cold dark day.

II

You were a fool like us; your gift lived through it all:
The church wards of rich dames, the loss of health,
You; the mad Green Isle hurt you to your verse.
Now the Green Isle has her mad thoughts and is rained on still,
For verse won't make things come to pass: they live
In the vales where they were said, where sharp men
Would not want to mess with, it flows south
From the range of just one's self and much worked griefs,
Raw towns that we have faith and die in; it lives on,
A way to come to pass, a mouth.


III

Earth, please take this famed new guest:
Will B. Yeats is laid to rest.
Let the Green Isle's great cup lie
All verse poured out by-and-by.

Time, that will not take the part
Of the brave and pure of heart,
And in a week gives no more nods
To a hard and well-formed bod,

Treats fine words as gods and gives
Grace to those who make them live;
Lets by wimps, the vain, the cheats,
Lays its bright wreaths at their feet.

Time that with this strange life use
Let by Red Kip and his views,
And will let by Paul as well,
Lets him 'cause he wrote real well.

In the bad dream of the dark
All the Old World dogs do bark,
And the states that still live wait,
Each one set off in its hate;

Ill-wrought thoughts that wreck our grace
Stare out now from each man's face,
And the seas of rue do lie
Locked and iced up in each eye.

Go on, verse man, go on right
To the low point of the night,
Break our bonds with your free voice,
Teach us to sing out our joys;

With a sown field of a verse
Make a grape farm of the curse,
Sing of how a man can't win
In your joy at life's hard strain;

In the dry lands of the heart
Let the spring that heals now start,
In the jail cell of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.

The source is here -- I used W.H.A.'s first draft, not the snipped and wimped one you see most. I did the first two parts some years since, back in the old place.

---L.

#111 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2005, 11:03 PM:

ain't we goof balls?

Oh, I know a bit of song that's just as cracked as it can be
The guy who wrote it kept it, then he gave the thing to me.
I found I could not use it, for it was a bit too blue.
That's where the whole thing ends, for now I'll hand it off to you.

It's a song the crocs croon sweet as they go hop scotch thru' the rye
And they play their ukes for gray-trunked beasts up in the trees so high.
It's a song the ice man sings, as he spoons in all your coal
And the monks take up the verse as they dance 'round the far north pole.

Ain't we goof balls? Ain't we goof balls?
This is the way we pass our time so gay!
Ain't we goof balls? Ain't we goof balls?
We plan to sing this song all night this day.

'Twas a dark night on the green sea, not a street car was in sight.
The sun shone bright as pitch for it had rained all day that night.
'Twas a warm June night at yule time and the snow rained fast as fast
As a bare foot boy with shoes on stood straight up down on his ass.

It was bright morn, and the sun set spread its rays out in the west
The fish up in the tree tops all were snug in their wee nest
The rain poured down so hard, and the moon shone out so bright,
And all the stuff that you could see was hid clean out of sight.

The cows were making cow slips and it made the bells ring wet,
And all the bees were on the bum and might still be there yet
And a man slipped through the barn door and he came out tired and hoarse
So he hopped up on his golf sticks and drove two times round the course.

Ain't we goof balls? ...

As the great pipes pealed the spuds, fair words of lard came from the choir,
The bell boy rang the dish rag, some fool set the church on fire.
"Hold the smoke!" called out the priest, and in the rain he lost his hair.
Now his head is like the world to come, for none shall part up there.

Ain't we goof balls? ...

'Twas a dark night on the green sea, not a horse car was in sight
As I set foot in a drug store just to get my smoke a light.
The man who brought me tooth picks was a dame, so old and gray,
Who used to shine the lads' shoes on the old silk road each day.

"Good day, kind sir," she asked me, and her eyes were wet with tears
As she put her bald head 'neath her feet and stood that way for years.
Her kids, six of them, had no folks, save for one teen-aged tot
Who lived in a house on that same block up o'er a weed-strewn lot.

Ain't we goof balls? ...

(As sung by Hay Wire Mack -- this site gives some of the words I heard him sing on Doc D, but not all. I put in more when it struck me that some had slipped my mind the first time. Watch out, though -- the site may sing at you.)

(LH -- I fixed some more words. Can't help it.)
.

#112 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2006, 10:18 PM:

Quick note: LH has got the Book or Poems of One Beat up to date. Well, all but this one, he says, so here it is, for the new year that's more than a week old now:

auld lang syne

Should old friends drop from out our thoughts
And not be brought to mind?
Should old friends drop from out our thoughts
and days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of heart's warmth yet,
for auld lang syne.

And sure now ye'll be in your cups!
And sure I'll be in mine!
And we'll take a cup o' heart's warmth yet,
For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of heart's warmth yet,
For auld lang syne.

We two have run all through the hills,
And pulled the wild blooms fine;
But we've trod miles on worn-out feet,
Since auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of heart's warmth yet,
For auld lang syne.

We two have swum wild in the burn,
From morn 'til time to dine;
But seas twixt us so broad have roared
Since auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of heart's warmth yet,
For auld lang syne.

And here's a hand, my heart's good friend
Give me a hand of thine
We'll take a cup of heart's warmth yet
For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of heart's warmth yet,
For auld lang syne.

Should our old friends fall from our thoughts
And slip out from our mind?
Should our old friends fall from our thoughts
and days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of heart's warmth yet,
For auld lang syne!

(By Rob Burns and Trad)
Back at LJ, LH is still at it. And so will I be too. Soon, I hope.

#113 ::: Debbie sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2011, 04:35 AM:

The spam outbreak continues.

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