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April 19, 2021

Rapping with Rab and Robert
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:44 PM * 77 comments

Someone elseweb crossed a couple of wires and mentioned Robert Frost when they meant Robert Burns. And I got that awful itch in my brain that I get sometimes.

So first this happened:

For though yer land an’ mine
Are neighbors near, an’ a’ that:
We split the apple frae the pine
A Wall’s a Wall for a’ that.

Then a couple of days later:

The way a pest
Crept up the side
Of the Sunday best
That you wore with pride
Made me see
How I’d be viewed
And rescued me
From being rude.

Then it was late at night and I took a bath. Unfortunately, I get ideas in the bath.

Thare’s mony speak o’ Rabbie Burns
An’ mony Robert Frost.
An’ gin the writers maun tak’ turns
Then for the first I favour Burns.
But gin the other micht be lost,
I think I ken enouch o’ verse
Tae say that as a poiet, Frost
Isnae worse
An’ worth the cost.

As Fade mentioned on Twitter, there’s an interesting space for parlor games here: crossing over the works of two poets that overlap somehow, whether by their names or some other characteristic.

The mic is open.

Comments on Rapping with Rab and Robert:
#1 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2021, 03:24 PM:

I'm not sure I have the knowledge of the respective poets to pull this off. But as an appreciator, I got it!

Also, Hi, Abi--nice to see you again. I hope things are going better than they were when last you were able to join us. :)

#2 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2021, 05:28 PM:

Hi, abi! (Missed your presence here.)

#3 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2021, 10:31 PM:

Oh my... I ... speechless, day, made!

#4 ::: Debra Bourne ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2021, 09:54 AM:

Wonderful! Thanks, Abi; I really enjoyed those - and the concept.

#5 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2021, 12:33 PM:

Okay, so I'm as good at this as everyone else here, but in order for this room to not be totally barren, I'll post this, to be papered over by better as they come.

The problem with a Raven: he ought
instead, to be a tell-tale Heart.

-- Edgar Allan Nash.

Now, whether the authors overlap at all, is yet another question.

#6 ::: Tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2021, 02:17 PM:

On Seeing a Small Creature Upon a Nun's Wimple, and Getting It Quite Wrong
by Gerard Manley Burns

O wee, sma', sleekit, cow'rin', tim'rous beastie!
How dost thou mak' my spirit rise
Within my breastie! When that I see
With my little e'e,
Thou crawl'st upon crumpled wind-blown wimple
To hide in a dimple! Simple!

O wad some pow'r the giftie gi'e us
Tae see oursels as ithers see us
It wad frae mony a blunder free us
An' foolish notion:
For after a draucht o' guid Scotch potion, during my devotion,
In its motion, in God's house
I have mistook a louse
For a mouse!

#7 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2021, 04:08 PM:

Tell me, what will you do with your second wild and precious life?

Mary Wollstonecraft Oliver, with apologies....

#8 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2021, 04:21 PM:

Traveling with personifications of eternal forces

It is not improper for an unaccompanied lady to pull her carriage over for personifications of eternal forces (such as that of mortality). However, it is also acceptable for such personifications to stop and take a lady on board. It is generally preferred if personifications offering mortals rides to do so in pairs (for instance, mortality and timelessness).

Excessive speed is discouraged on such journeys. The traveling companions should not engage in distractions, but instead pursue discussions of common subjects, landmarks they pass, natural phenomena, &c...

— Emily Post Dickinson

#9 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2021, 07:09 AM:

I saw the best minds of my generation put the lime in the coconut and drink it right up.

--Two Friends of John Lennon

#10 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2021, 01:24 PM:

Frost covered Eliot Street in Cambridge last week. I should have taken a picture, but I didn't know this was going to happen.

We are acquainted, you and I and the night
With streets half-deserted, let us walk through the rain
Outwalking the far city lights

Whispers come to us through ether we cannot explain
And the muttering of angry arguments
We walk home to our sad city lane

Where diners are percolating coffee with resentment
You know half the people here only want a place to cry
Or to quarrel, but that isn't my intent

You're holding my hand and I can't say good-bye
Though the old battered clock that still hangs on the wall
Warns when the last of night will leave the sky

We know the night enough to trust the night again must fall
And indeed there will be time
And indeed there will be time
And indeed there will be time.

#11 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2021, 03:37 PM:

A gaggle of ghouls are whooping it up on Carcosa's cloud-lapped shore.
The queen who sang us the song of her soul will sing us no note no more.
Black are the stars, and strange are the moons, and great was the hullabaloo,
And the rending of veils, and the ending of tales, when the King came for Dan McGrew.

- "The Damnation of Dan McGrew," by Robert W. Service Chambers

#12 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2021, 05:51 PM:

That might be worth finishing. If it were possible.

#13 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2021, 08:40 PM:

#12: for some reason, nobody's managed to read the second half of the poem in public. No-one knows why (but it's probably warm).

#14 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2021, 09:35 PM:

A narrow fellow in the grass
Occasionally rides
You may have seen him, did you not? His notice sudden is.
I don't like ol' Sneaky Snake
He laughs too much, you see
When he goes wriggling through the grass
It tickles his underneath

#15 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2021, 09:46 PM:

I was born in a pretty how town
And I can breathe in a pretty how town
I'll probably die in a pretty how town
And that's probably where they'll bury me

#16 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2021, 01:54 AM:

If I were feeling cleverer, I'd do Ted Langston Hughes and mash up "The Machine" ("When you tried/To will me up the stair .../...And my life/Forever trying to climb the steps now stone") and "Mother to Son" ("Life for me ain't been no crystal stair./It's had tacks in it,/And splinters..."). Maybe someone else can manage?

#17 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2021, 10:23 AM:

Armis olafque cano...

(eeliad, an excerpt)

#18 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2021, 11:14 AM:

Abiiiiiiiiii—!!!! Hi hi hi!!

Don't see it here,* don't remember if I saw it on Twitter, but it seems odd that no one has explicitly pointed out that each of the OP's poets' names are rather precisely the inverse of the other's, which might be worth some contemplation (for which I am unequipped*,**)?

* At an admittedly quick scan: I think I've mentioned elsethread that I can't do poetry. I apparently have to poetry what to music would be a tin ear, and it hurts my brain to even try to parse it.

** Yes, both of those single-asterisks above reference the same footnote.

#19 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2021, 01:25 PM:

Enjoying these, especially Gray Woodland #11

#20 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2021, 07:13 PM:

Jacque @18, that bit of wordplay was, I suspect, part of the inspiration for Abi’s third poem.

#21 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2021, 02:02 AM:

Erik Nelson @ 15 - wild applause!

#22 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2021, 02:47 AM:

Some say the world will die of Burns,
Some say of Frost.
From how my heart yearns
I hold with those who favor Burns.
But if it had to be twice lost,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction Frost
Is also great
And lower cost.

#23 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2021, 08:32 AM:

@22, <applause!> I noodled around with that idea for a while, but I couldn't make it gel. WELL done, sir!

#24 ::: BigHank53 ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2021, 09:55 AM:

so mehitabel has stopped trying to step on me
which is a relief
she calls herself a catgirl
what ever that is
i have seen cats
i have seen cats that are girls
mehitabel is one that imagines she is the other

we watch a lot of tv together
because she drops a lot of good snacks on the floor
there are not many bugs in her shows
but we are always under-represented
i dont even mind when we are the heavies
just to see someone with the right number of legs
is a relief

--Don Miyazaki

#25 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2021, 01:46 PM:

#12, 13 - Many thanks, but I don't think I dare...

Really enjoying this thread, from the brilliant OP starter on down (and yes, Abi, most excellent to see you here again! Thanks for inspiring me to re-delurk!)

#26 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2021, 02:19 PM:

I appear to have perpetrated a Lament for the Maker (or, the Topaz Verse Disaster), by one William Topaz Dunbar. We apologize for the inconvenience. It begins:

I who was merry and blithe, I do confess,
Am now weigh’d down by leaden clouds that do my breast oppress -
Alas! O Muses, aid me for to set my mind to rhyme,
Which I hope will be remembered for a very long time.

The whole thing exists, and runs (thank whoever the Muse of this sort of thing really is!) significantly shorter than either of its originals - but it still extends to just over one screen of text in preview, so I'm not quite sure how or whether to post it...

#27 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2021, 05:28 PM:

I recognize half of that, which is enough to get me laughing like a drain. What's the other source? (And one vote for "post it all!")

#28 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2021, 05:21 AM:

Glad this thread is growing! Some wonderful pieces...I confess, I don't know all of the sources.

Yes, Avram, I did do "Fire and Ice" as "Burns and Frost" in Burns' ain dialect. My ear for Scots isnae fantastic, so I may have abused the language somewhat.

#29 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2021, 05:31 AM:

David Goldfarb @27 - The components are William 'Topaz' McGonagall's Tay Bridge Disaster, and William Dunbar's Lament for the Makaris, Quhen he wes Sek (Lament for the Makers, c. 1505).

The Dunbar piece appears in-genre as the poetic theme in George Turner's memorably depressing Vaneglory. In The Worm Ouroboros, E R Eddison actually puts the first half into the mouth of the Red Foliot, as his extemporized funeral lament for Gorice XI of Witchland. The Foliot is interrupted by a drunken brawl just as he is about to run out of generic laments for mortality and succumb to an incomprehensible urge to catalogue defunct Scottish poets. This is the one moment in the whole book when most readers are probably cheering on the epic hooligan Corinius.

#30 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2021, 06:09 AM:

Having slept on it, and in the continuing absence of objections or thunderbolts, your servant begs leave to present:

Lament for the Maker, or, the Topaz Verse Disaster

by William Topaz Dunbar.

I who was merry and blithe, I do confess,
Am now weigh’d down by leaden clouds that do my breast oppress -
Alas! O Muses, aid me for to set my mind to rhyme,
Which I hope will be remembered for a very long time.

I have acquired, I think, some moderate poetic reputation
(Which I think that I may say without undue exaggeration)
And to pass away from Earth unmarked would constitute against Posterity a heinous crime
For which I hope not to be remembered for a very long time!

O Paean! Apollo! Bring balm to thy votary valetudinarian,
Who sickens under the oppression of critics tolerably ultracrepidarian,
Because I do not think it is a very good idea
For thy votary to sicken and perish here,
And I hope I will be recovering in a very short time.

The Magistrates of Bonnie Dundee pretend my rhyming to indict
But the Rev. George Gilfillan can them capably contradict
And certify with other good judges that every word with his mate doth properly chime
(As like the Rev. George Gilfillan I am sure you can plainly see)
For which I hope I will be remembered for a very long time!

O, the Demon Critic blew upon good Shakespeare now and then
Nor did scruple to slander the works of Kitty Marlowe or Rare Behn,
And e’en our Burns hath borne that Demon’s bloom-blasting rime.
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

When I mind how Captious Critics, those aforesaid ultracrepidarian Demons,
Have served my Self just like the godlike Tupper, Wither, and Hemans,
I find a new pride, and I straighten my spine,
And jump up and do not wish to languish in bed any more for a very long time!

But alas! I must swiftly repair again to my bed
Rememb’ring that all these Giants of Verse are finishéd,
And that it will be too late to enjoy the sweets of fame once I am dead,
Even tho’ I should be remembered for a very long time.
Timor mortis conturbat me.

What cheer’s with Chaucer, Gower, Hew
Of Eglintoun? Or twenty-two
More names I might with ease supply?
May better fortune hope for I?

“Good heavens! Our Sir Topaz is taken away!”
Is what people will lament to each other some sad day,
Which I hope will not be for a very long time,
But happen it must, tho’ we plead and we pray.

So I vow and declare I shall get up again and strive with all my power,
To master my Art until I shall be able to eclipse even Chaucer and Gower,
For the better we our poems write,
The less chance we have of writing shite
Which will be remembered for a very long time.
Timor artis conturbat me.

#31 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2021, 06:22 AM:

Gray Woodland:

I am ded. Ded. You pulled that off magnificently.

#32 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2021, 10:56 AM:

@30 <applause>

#33 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2021, 03:47 PM:

O wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful wonderful! And yet again wonderful, and after that, out of all hooping.

#34 ::: Debra Bourne ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2021, 04:23 PM:

Not going to try to create for this but really enjoying all the offerings - thanks, everyone!

#35 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2021, 08:15 PM:

Hoo boy!

(Gonna save this thread.)

#36 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2021, 03:51 PM:

meanwhile, J.R.R. Milne:

A Elbereth Gilthoniel (tiddly-pom)
o menel palan-diriel (tiddly-pom)
le nallon si di’nguruthos (tiddly-pom)
a tiro nin, Fanuilos!

#37 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2021, 04:48 PM:

I would have expected something like "tiddeli pom"

#38 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2021, 05:46 PM:

This is just to say
That I merged the naming of parts
with the plums in the icebox.

The lengths were mismatched
and the meter blew a fuse.
This moose is so hot and so bothered.

So there is just this apology,
instead of the expected poem
which in your case you have not got.

#39 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2021, 06:03 PM:

Oh, well done, Moose, well done.

#40 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2021, 07:47 PM:

Julie L (36): My favorite so far!

Cadbury Moose (38): And you just tied for my favorite!

#41 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2021, 01:51 AM:

Cadbury Moose @ 38: *splork*

Now I also have not got a dry keyboard.

#42 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2021, 01:24 PM:

I can’t do Scots and am afraid to try, but...”Algernon in Calydon”?

The cats of spring are on winter’s traces,
O mother of mice in meadow or plain—
wee sleekit, cowering timorous beastie
in lisp of leaves and stubble of grain

#43 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2021, 03:30 PM:

Dough, the stuff you get from banks,
Ray, the guy who drives the car,
Me, the one who waves the gun.
Fa, a long way from the cops.
So--how much is in the bag?
L.A. that's where we're headed now,
Tea, that's slang for Mary Jane,
Which is why we stole the dough. (Dough, dough, dough)

--Rodgers & Hammerstein & Tarrantino, title song from the Broadway show "The Sound of Money"

(Composed for a discussion on another forum, but I'm too lazy to devise something new.)

#44 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2021, 11:10 PM:

@38 and @43 have me laughing unto tears. Tears! Never stop.

#45 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2021, 01:57 AM:

Wit with his wantonness
Tasteth death's bitterness -
So I'm hoping the Lord will be mercier
If I make the verse worsier.

In Time of Feeling Somewhat Sub-Par, by Thomas Ogdene Nashe.

#46 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2021, 07:42 PM:

Ozypictias, by Percy Bysshe Kipling:

The little folk, the northern Picts, they said,
"Great Rome, like vast and heartless legs of stone
Heeds not their tread on stomachs, hearts and head
But we behind them gather, they'll atone.
Yes, haughty Rome with sneers and cold command
Would slay our rebel fighters with their swords.
Yet will we drive invaders from our land,
Though we have little weaponry but words.
As mistletoe kills oaks, as rats will tear
and ruin all they gnaw on; thus, our plan.
Look on our works, you Romans, and despair!
Only we Picts remain; round the decay
Of their half-fallen Wall, of Romans bare,
Our green and pleasant lands stretch far away."

(The rhyme scheme for this poem is NOT a sonnet, which I'd never consciously noticed until I sat down to write this....)

#47 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2021, 12:52 AM:

I love it.

I love cover versions of songs - I don't feel I know what a song really is until I've heard a few people take a run at it - and this scratches the same itch.

It reminds me of long ago (2004!) on Making Light when John Ford rewrote Henry V in the style of Damon Runyan. Those were good times.

(And since the net is the home of all misunderstandings, don't think I'm trying to drag you down a notch by saying that someone did something similar once before. This is cool stuff.)

#48 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2021, 05:02 AM:

Steve @#47

Harry of five points was just wonderful, as was all of Mike's stuff.

#49 ::: Cadbury Moose is taken seriously aback ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2021, 05:06 AM:

Eek! People actually liked my miserable effort?

This moose is not a poet.
Everybody knows it.
It doesn't even rhyme,
at any time.

(goes into hiding)

#50 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2021, 11:39 AM:

On a related note, I was trying to remember who wrote “The Death of the Ball-Turret Gunner” and my brain cell was stubbornly supplying Randall Garrett instead of Randall Jarrell.

Which I suppose would cause the death to be investigated by Lord Darcy?

#51 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2021, 05:27 PM:

Julie L @50

A local tv comedy show (I’ve blanked on the name) used to have musical guests performing their greatest hits - but there would always have been an error in the booking, so instead of Joan Jett performing “I Live Rock and Roll” it would be Joan Kirner, Premier of the state of Victoria.

This error happened quite a few times.

#52 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2021, 09:47 AM:

Whose plums these are I think I know
But you have left them here, and so
You will not see me snacking here
On treats so sweet and cold as snow

#53 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2021, 11:57 AM:

Avram @20 & abi @28: From the Department of "It Is Obvious That—" Got it.

TBF, per my disclaimer, even on attempted reread, I can't extract any comprehensible meaning from the text. (I haz a sad.)

...with the exception of Cadbury Moose's @38. I am familiar enough with that form by now that that one, I actually got!

#54 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2021, 12:31 PM:

Delurking to ask Jacque @53 if this helps at all with the third poem in Abi's post.

And to offer much appreciation to all the poets in this thread!

#55 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2021, 01:38 PM:

A Weaver Rude was pricking up his eares
For what had put his fellows to their flight –
Heard nought, and deem’d they practist on his feares,
But from such jests he scorned to take affright,
And loud and raucous sing’d in their despight.
His braying accents, bold as sounding brass,
Did waken to that strange Midsommers Night
The Faerie Queene from sleepe - who straight did pass
To where she needs must see, and be enamour’d of, his Ass

es Head; for on his shoulders broad he bare…

- from Midsommer Mechanicals, or, Where Didst Thou Last See My Bottom?, a Comedie in Five Rollicking Cantos by Edmund Shakespeare, or Perchance some other Gentleman of the Same Name.

This work is now known chiefly from a surviving copy of the Very Special Illustrated Edition commissioned by the Midsomer Copperton & District Donkey Appreciation Society, known as the Full Foul Folio. It is obscured at this and many other salient points by greasy finger-smudges, miscellaneous stains, the remnants of ill-judged improvised bookmarks, and the notorious tendency of many pages to be stuck together in some manner left pointedly unexplored by Science. Getting access to it was murder.

#56 ::: John Burt ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2021, 05:48 PM:

I don't feel capable of actually performing the sort of brain-splicing surgery that has been performed here (after the fashion of the savants of Laputa, who carried on their most advanced esoteric debates by swapping brain tissue), but I did, awhile back, commission Thomas Jefferson to execute a new English translation of Eugène Pottier's immortal l'Internationale:

All people are created equal
With rights to life and liberty
The state must be the people's servant
That they might be safe and free
And if the state should shirk its duty
The people then must stand
Their right's to alter or abolish it
And remake it by their hand!

So brothers, come and sisters
Now's the time, and here's the place
Our universal struggle
Shall free the human race!

#57 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2021, 08:20 PM:

Susie @54: Thanks muchly, but it's a perceptual fail, not a structural issue. So the offered key produces the same error code as the original lol.

#58 ::: Troutwaxer ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2021, 12:27 PM:

I'm breaking lurker mode to unleash this mashup:

Magus let me in, I wanna be your friend
I want to give you dreams and visions
Just wrap your legs 'round these tentacles
We'll make an infernal engine!
Together we could merge our brains
Visit ice-clad Leng, go slowly mad on the plains!
Oh can we burn in the ritual fires
`Cause baby I'm just ia fhtagn
Can I fill up your soul with eels?
Oh can I nibble on your brain mage
I want to know if it tastes good
Oh, chant ph'nglui...

Back to lurking now.

#59 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2021, 07:16 PM:

Jacque @18: Abi and I were also musing about that on Twitter shortly after she started this there. I had been trying to come up with a Frost-ian version of the same poem playing with the names the same way, but gave it up after her exemplary 3rd poem, so I'm pleased to see someone did something along those lines as #22.

and Jacque also @53: The secret decoder ring for the other half of #38 may be found here, among other places: Naming of Parts. I think I first came across it in my high school English class, but perhaps it was in college. Either way, long ago.

#60 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2021, 10:22 AM:

Despite my best efforts, here now is that verse foredoomed since comment #11. In excuse I can only plead that the text does not explicitly follow matters beyond the end of Act I of the Hyadean Play, for reasons which will be sufficiently apparent.

The Damnation of Dan McGrew, by Robert W Service Chambers

A gaggle of ghouls are whooping it up on Carcosa's cloud-lapped shore;
The queen who sang us the song of her soul will sing us no note no more.
Black are the stars, and strange are the moons - and great was the hullabaloo,
And the rending of veils, and the ending of tales, when the King came for Dan McGrew.


It happened by night, by the light of the ball that began when two suns went down:
Camilla the Fair caught the moons in her hair, and the queen wore her pride for a crown.
Cassilda went masked as a silvery wolf, and the princess a golden-furred cat,
And their courtiers came in each guise you could name - I myself was an orichalc rat.
Then the dances we danced, and the blasphemies blabbed, and the frantic delights we knew,
And the harps that were wrung, and the songs that were sung, ere the Ill-Wind brought Dan McGrew!

There were girls that masqued as Squid-Head's spawn, and boys like the Toad-Thing's get:
There were flowers and towers and obsolete Powers, but never a kind look yet.
Our queen stood high in sorcery. Gods danced to her design,
But she could not spare us the long despair of the lands 'neath the Yellow Sign.
Camilla's hard laugh was our headiest draught, for it rang both clean and true -
And I heard it last with the trumpet-blast, when - they called the Stranger through!

He swaggered in late by the Windwalker's Gate, that gives on a frozen wood
Which hunters have won through to skies not ours, but seldom have come to good.
He wasn't a hunter of Alar's or ours - he brought us no trophy nor pelt.
Though the rod of a warlock hung at his side, of magic no fear we felt
While Cassilda could sing. - No, the horrible thing that struck at my heart like a stone
Was the mask that seemed molded and fixed to his face, all pallid and dead as bone.

Did you ever dream that your hated dead came leaping to life again,
With no blood to spill, and no breath to still, and no purpose but your pain?
Such was the twist on its carven lips - such were its ash-pit eyes.
Camilla's laughter cut through the air with the glee of her frank surprise.
"Oh, Stranger bold from the wastelands cold! It's eightscore years and three
Since anyone here's had a different idea - so you shall dance with me!"

He danced with her, with the hot disdain of the Hastur-trouper strut.
She gave him it brazenly back again, till a courtier tried to cut
In on the dance - you know the sad kind! - the sort thinks his will's the girl's wish -
The warlock's wand flashed a shooting-star thrice, and gutted the lout like a fish,
Still with nary a word; and they danced through his blood, till Aldebaran stood at his height
And the queen cried, "Unmask! Now the time comes to ask, and to show who we danced with tonight!"

All masks but one fell - then Camilla cried, "Hell-hound! You, sir, shall unmask with the rest!"
But the carven lips sneered, and the sunken eyes leered, and she heaved him away from her breast.
"I dunno what hooch you folks have swilled," said the mask of writhing bone,
"Nor what all this fancy dress is about - I happened by here on my own!"
"Indeed it is time!" Cassilda spoke curt. "We've all doffed our disguise but you!"
"Well, this sure ain't no mask - and you oughtn't need ask, 'cause I'm Dangerous Dan McGrew!"

"No mask? This bone-white bone-hard face, with evil's track scored clear,
No mask? What hell's beyond that wood, O Mother my dearest dear?"
Cam drew her poniard and backed away, but Dan gave a grisly grin:
"If anything out there's worse than me, it's welcome to follow me in
And drag me down! - You follow me home, and I'll give you all the hell
You like - !" The sky gave an awful crack, with the wreck of Cassilda's spell,
And a Worse was there, and his scolloped tatters swirled about Dan's head,
And, "Not upon us, O King - !" the Queen Cassilda vainly pled,
And she drew the light -


And that's all he said, before he was dead - poor Natty Alba the priest,
Hiding away in the wood from the ghouls, and frothing like whipped-up yeast.
A skein of flapping things crossed the sky. Carcosa's gates stood shut -
I didn't think knocking would get me much good, so I fled from I won't ask what.

This is as much as I know to tell, and as much as I want to know.
The Phantom of Truth can go haunt someone else, and the Songs of a Sourdough
Were probably best with all that suppressed... Still, give the devil his due:
At least the fiend in the cloak did croak the yhtill called Dan McGrew!

#61 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2021, 10:34 AM:

A brief linguistic note to #60:

Yhtill - Old Low Carcosan: "Ewww!"; something or somebody that makes one want to say that. In the personal context, a grand-operatic-revenging insult, like so much else in Late Halian culture. I have heard Mr Service Chambers pronounce it "yick-tick" in a rare recorded reading; but Machen says the first syllable is much like the ych in Welsh "ych y fi!" in both pronunciation and feeling, and the terminal 'll' is so much like the similarly spelled Welsh sound that he suspects the whole Romanization of being due to Myrddin during the infamous T H White affair.

See Scholiast on Alhazred: "by that lamentable Worde which is spoken ukh-tulh as if an one would invoke Him Who Lieth Dreaming, wee are to understand dis aaargh aarrgh agh gett it off m"

and also The King in Yellow, Act II Scene I:

NAOTALBA: Only the prawn canapés.
CAMILLA: Yhtill!
CASSILDA: How shall this stand? Yet, if

#62 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2021, 11:02 AM:

Well, that's made my morning.

#63 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2021, 12:08 PM:

The King in Yellowknife approves.

#64 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2021, 06:49 PM:

#60 is quite wonderful indeed!

#65 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2021, 07:45 AM:

What an accomplishment!

#66 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2021, 11:22 AM:

Truly a mind-shattering achievement!

#67 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2021, 08:35 AM:

I'll just be over here gibbering quietly in a corner....

(Well done!)

#68 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2021, 05:25 PM:

Gray Woodland at #60: Very impressive. But what are you parodying? I recognize the Robert W Service part, but not the other part.

#69 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2021, 06:30 PM:

Erik Nelson@68

Robert W. Chambers. “The King in Yellow”.

#70 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2021, 10:05 PM:

Gray Woodland at #60: Very impressive. But what are you parodying? I recognize the Robert W Service part, but not the other part.

#71 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2021, 10:07 PM:

Sorry sorry about about the the double double post post

#72 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2021, 02:38 PM:

I love people offering up more poetry to help decode the poetry.... XD

Yeah, uh, that's...not gonna help. I do appreciate the intent, though.

Now, see, Gray Woodland's @60 I can actually parse somewhat. The Cremation of Sam McGee was my dad's favorite poem, so I heard him read that out loud a few times as a kid, and actually have a lot of it memorized. So I can slot Gray's version into the rhythm of the original. I still find the textual format exhausting to try to read. :(

Face it, folks. When it comes to poetry, I'm just a waste of good air.

#73 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2021, 04:06 PM:

My parents had a book with Service's poetry. He was awfully fond of anapests.

(My childhood included commercials that were, I believe, from Stan Freberg's fertile mind.
"A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Bell Brand potato chip rack" going to "See what the boys in the back bag will have," said dangerous Irving Bell". And (to the Triumphal March from "Aida": "Just look! 29 elephants loaded with Golden Grain" going to "Is this all you brought for me: spaghetti from Italy? Another man's chickadee I'll be!" "Then leave! I will live happily eating my Golden Grain". Radio commercials, of course.)

#74 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2021, 01:55 AM:

The world might end in fire
Another option's ice
The flames of true desire
Convince us fire is nice
But if we had to burn it
Another time or two
The cold of hate shows ice is great
For dooming me and you

#75 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2021, 02:38 AM:

Today we have fire and ice. Yesterday
We had sea level rise. And tomorrow morning
We shall have viral pandemics. But today,
Today we have fire and ice. The plums
Sparkle, dewy, in the icebox,
And today we have fire and ice

This is the strategic missile. And this
is the tactical missile, whose use you will see
When you are totally batshit. And this is the defensive missile
Which in your case you have not got. At breakfast,
We go searching for cold sweet plums
Which in our case we have not got

This is the button, which is always depressed
In a simple response to an order. And please do not let me
See anyone using his thinker. You can do it quite easy
If you have too much faith in your orders. Taking the plums,
Was natural in the warm dark of night but an apology
required using his thinker

And this you can see is the vault. The purpose of this
Is to hide from the fire and ice. We can close it
Quickly, with an echoing clunk. We call this
Waiting for Spring. And quickly, with an echoing clunk
The plum owner's boot hits her poet's ass.
She calls it weighting for spring

They call it waiting for Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have too much faith in your orders: like the vault,
and the breach, and the firestorm, and the assured deterrence
which in our case we have not got; and the plums flowering
in the public gardens, and the world burning in desire or hate,
For today we have fire and ice

#76 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2021, 11:25 AM:

thomas, very good!

#77 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2021, 04:35 PM:

thomas @ #75

That is superb.

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