I have been on semi-hiatus recently, busy with work and an article for DRI’s For The Defense magazine.  The article will hopefully appear in the September Trial Tactics issue, unless the editors consider it crap, and if so I defer to them.  In any event, it’s good to be back with Monday Morning Hearsay. 

Poetry is supposedly A Serious Thing, to be undertaken with proper reverence and in a silent, dusty English-manor-style library.  Humbug.  Jabberwocky is not a serious poem, but it is fun to read.  Another funny one I love, love, love is The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered, by Clive James.   It’s funny because it reflects  an insider-writer’s sentiment, but it also parodies Psalm 9, a work we take as serious, even holy. 

Poet Wendy Cope’s first book parodies several denizens of the poetic canon with marvelous results.  Consider Eliot’s The Waste Land.  If ever there was a Serious Poem, it’s this, chock full of Eliot’s old standby, Latin phrases only the most Serious Academics will understand. 

Now read Cope’s Waste Land Limericks:

I
 
 
 
In April one seldom feels cheerful;
Dry stones, sun and dust make me fearful;
Clairvoyants distress me,
Commuters depress me –
Met Stetson and gave him an earful.
 
 
 
 
II
 
 
 
She sat on a mighty fine chair,
Sparks flew as she tidied her hair;
She asks many questions,
I make few suggestions –
Bad as Albert and Lil – what a pair!
 
 
 
III
 
 
 
The Thames runs, bones rattle, rats creep;
Tiresias fancies a peep –
A typist is laid,
A record is played –
Wei la la.  After this it gets deep.
 
 
 
IV
 
 
 
A Phoenician called Phlebas forgot
About birds and his business – the lot.
Which is no surprise,
Since he’d met his demise
And been left in the ocean to rot.
 
 
 
V
 
 
 
No water.  Dry rocks and dry throats,
Then thunder, a shower of quotes
From the Sanskrit and Dante.
Da.  Damyata.  Shantih.
I hope you’ll make sense of the notes.
 

Wendy Cope, Waste Land Limericks,  from Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis (Faber & Faber, 1986). 

Somewhat famously, Faber & Faber was Eliot’s publisher, too.  It takes guts to take on the poet considered one of the greatest of the twentieth century, or possibly ever, and I am so glad she did.