Necessary Narcissism

Omnia Morte Cadunt by Barthel Bruyn


Necessary Narcissism

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.


disco medusa
Discomedusae by Ernst Haeckel


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 ?

Adle Strop



Adle Strop

Yes, I remember the poet’s train
That pulled up one afternoon,
And waited by my bare platform
Unwontedly.  Was it late June ?

I had been whitless-still in fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky,
Listening to a blackbird sing
Of meadowsweet and haycocks dry,

When the express-train drew up there.
No-one left and no-one came.
The only thing they even saw
Were platform boards which bore my name.

And then they went, and took their noise,
Their hissing steam and flashing brass,
And left me once again in peace
With willow, willow-herb and grass.



Stoking the Peeves



Stoking the Peeves

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,
Self-appointedly experty,
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.



The Lack of The Circumflex in the British Îles



The Lack of The Circumflex in the British Îles

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 !

Flimsy were the Borogroves

Jabberwocky by John Tenniel


Flimsy were the Borogroves

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.




Maximum Maxims



Maximum Maxims

We all cringe at clitches,
They bring on the twitches –
We see them as hackneyed and vague.
We look down on clitches
As droppings and glitches,
Avoiding them all like the plague.

But with such a dissing,
Just see what we’re missing !
Take heed, here’s a word to the wise –
There’s beauty in clitches
That awes and bewitches
The scales from over our eyes.

There’s wisdom on view,
And variety too,
Each diff’rent as chalk is from cheese.
By rushing past clitches
For linguistic riches
We’re missing the wood for the trees.

They still get it right,
Thought they often seem trite –
Familiar breeding contempt.
They’re seen as, these clitches,
Too big for their britches,
As language that’s drab and unkempt.

I know we get lazy
And pluck the same daisy
Each time when the going gets tough,
But still we need clitches
To scratch where it itches
When other words just ain’t enough

If we were more caring
We’d use them but sparing –
Then surely they’d still pack a punch
The wit of some clitches
Should have us in stitches
(But don’t, when it comes to the crunch.)

If used in rotation,
The next generation
Will not suffer famine nor feast.
Don’t wear out the clitches
Or park them in niches,
But gladly embrace with the beast.

Let’s let them lie low,
Take it steady and slow,
For a little will go a long way.
There’s life in the clitches,
New tricks in the bitches,
For ev’ry old dog has his day.