I’ve always heard them say
That Golden Brown & Perfect Day
Are smuggling in some heroin
Cos that’s so rock & roll !
But I don’t think that’s such a feat
When looking at each lyric sheet –
There’s nothing there to threaten or cajole.
The Stranglers waltz around with metaphor
About…well, what ?
Some vagueries that lapse into an ideal love, perhaps,
To fox our trot, but little more.
And Lou is not opaque at all,
Just thanks for needed company –
And if it’s from a needle, well,
He fails to wink sufficiently.
Now, there’s no reason songs can’t hide
Another message deep inside,
But usually they’re straight ahead –
And if we let our fancies fly
We’re chasing diamonds in the sky
And swearing blind that Paul is dead.
Yeats ? I’m better than him, any day !
Shakespeare ? Kipling ? Take them away !
Wordsworth ain’t worth a word, nor a letter –
Betjeman, ha ! Bet you meant to be better.
Sure, they have moments – as do I, if you only knew –
But it’s only their moments forever retold and adored.
I could write beauty, should it suit me – and it does !, and I do !
But it’s always their words get remembered, and my words ignored.
To tell the truth, I’d always hoped I could have loved them all instead,
But then they never wrote the lines I wished and needed to be said,
And so it fell to me to please myself with what I couldn’t find,
And that is why it’s only I who sparks my picky, prickly mind.
Oh, they all have moments, and I cling to these for dear love –
That just for once they get me – when they get me right and get me good !
I need these, only ten times more so – scattered crumbs are not enough –
Why must I hack my own damn verses just to feel I’m understood ?
Perhaps I over-dramatise a little, make too much a fuss,
But surely we’ve all felt at times abandoned, like we’ve missed the bus –
They make such lofty claims of how they speak for us, these sacred arts,
Yet often fail so mis’rably to touch us in our hungry hearts.
Sure they have their moments – as do I ! Ah, but you’ll never know.
I wouldn’t care, if only they could steal my thoughts and set them free.
I know I have some beauty, somewhere – Ah, forget it, let it go…
If only I could love them as you love them – but it ain’t to be.
Yeats ? I’m better, when we’re both said and done !
At least, to my audience of one.
jellyfish – OED first citation 1796 medusa (in this sense) – 1752 sea-nettle – 1601
What did we call the jellyfish
Before we called them that ?
Aristotle was the first
To note what they were at –
He called them akelephe
In his mighty omnibus –
While Pliny called them sea-lungs –
That is, pulmo marinus.
At some point, they were likened
To Medusa, with the snakes –
So when Linnaeus crowned them that,
He simply upped the stakes.
But what about in English,
From before the mighty Swede ?
Shakespeare never mentioned them,
Nor Caxton, Chaucer, Bede.
I guess those Middle Ages folk
Just neither knew, nor cared –
Though fishermen, at lease, you’d think,
Would need to be prepared. Sea nettle, I suppose
Could make the strongest claims,
But hands that felt the stings were not
The hands that wrote down names.
Yet surely they are tailor-made
To populate in Hell ?
It seems their nightmares missed a trick,
When jellies did not gel.
They kinda look like floating heads,
(Though clearly going bald).
Much like Cthulhu’s nameless ones,
Who knows what they were called ?
Language is clouds – that’s lit’rally true.
It’s diffrent than past – it answers to who ?
You lie down authority, but we won’t listen
We so could care less to the diss your dismissing.
So stamp your feet and hector shirty,
All the bastards bastardizing –
Y’ain’t got no affect, chastizing.
You’re grammar trolls who think your helpful elves,
But who can’t agree whats right amid yourselves.
Infinitives split and participles dangle
And just in your head does this cause a jangle.
We’re abusing our muse, we mis-stress our mistrèss,
But you’re loosing the argument, irregardless.
You think we don’t care
In our languistic flair ?
Well, might could we don’t care for you.
So calm up and note
That we alls got a vote,
Cos this tongue is ours as well too.
Ah, the French, with their hats upon their vowels
That they wear as a reminder to the fickleness of fate:
For there used to be a consonant, since buried in the bowels,
And thus no letter’s truly safe unless it pulls its weight.
For even though the final consonants are free to stay, L’Académie insists on hats, and French must all obey it: These warn them of the missing s they had, but threw away,
And how they must remember not to say it.
In English, though, it’s understood
We keep the silents hanging round –
Cos once they’re in, they’re in for good,
However pointless and unsound.
They’re traps, just waiting to be sprung –
We keep the buggers out of spite,
To trip up Johnny Foreign’s tongue.
Bloody minded ? Bloody right !
Whenever a line is correctly misquoted,
It’s odds-on much better that way.
The warts-and-all version may be more authentic,
But sometimes the masses must have their say.
To which I say: lead on Macduff, Let each subconscious cast its vote. Play it again, Sam, let them eat cake – I’ll defend to the death your right to misquote.
So: just the facts, ma’am, it’s not always garbles,
It’s sometimes invented from naught but thin air –
Or maybe the right words are placed in the wrong mouth,
For no other reason than simply it’s there.
Oh mirror mirror on the wall, Crisis, what crisis ? I cannot tell a lie. We must disagree: Me Tarzan, you Jane, So excuse me while I kiss this guy.
But Hell hath no fury quite like the misquoted,
Of being abridged and rewritten by peers.
So brace for their sighs and their tuts and their glances,
And no drop to drink but our blood, sweat and tears.
Some say, of course, “You dirty rat, You’re letting their corruption win through. You spare the rod and spoil the child – Another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.”
To which I reply “Oh, not tonight, Josephine !
Beam me up, Scotty, from self-righteous bunk !
If you aim for perfection, you’d ask the question –
Do you feel lucky, punk ?”
It’s elementary, my dear Watson – Survival of the fittest, in fact. We all gild the lily when we paraphrase the famous – And not a lot of people know that.