Some irreverent retakes on styles in literature
Starting at the beginning, have just read selections from Beowulf. The following poem was inspired by it. The rules are:
- four principal beats to a line (but any number of syllables),
- 3rd beat alliterates with the 1st or 2nd or both,
- no rhyme.
Walking the Curs
The rain had abated its awful deluging, The sun was now shining and showing its mirth. Keen-to-go canines, cavorted and howled, The freedom to frolic in fields on their mind. She called them and latched on the leashes to each, And gathered the goodies and gear in her pouch, And leaping and whining they left their great yard, Started the journey and jogged down the road, To sniff all the p-mail and pursue the scents, That beckoned and called and cried to their senses, But quickly she quenched their craving and lithe, For clouds massed so thickly, with thunder’s rude bellows, And back home they scurried as scattering drops, Renewed the deluge, that descended again.
The Medieval Ballad
Sir Pepper’s Balls
There be once a dog, Sir Pepper, call’d he
A pood’l black, happy and gay
And life was dandy and bonny and fine
Till Loolie arrive’d one day, one day,
Till Loolie arrive’d one day.
A wee black cur, sa forlorn and unlov’d,
She arrived naught but tangles and muck,
Abandoned, ‘twas she, tossed aside to the scarp*,
But life was to shower her luck, ye luck,
Yea, life was to shower her luck.
“Move o’er, Sir Pepper, and show what ye’ve got.
Prithee, pass all your trinkets my way,
Me thinkist the best way to deal with these spheres
Is t’ ravage, dismantle and fray,
I fain* ravage, dismantle and fray.”
And wi’ nary a thought, Loolie set to the task,
Each ball was reduc’d t’ mere crumbs,
Instead of a bounce, they lay hollow and hol’d,
“Does thou see what my life has become, become?
Woe is me, what my life has become!”
Alas, Sir Pepper, once King of Retrieve,
His joy was to run and to fetch,
Look’t on wi’ dismay as each fuzz-covered orb
Turned into a pile of wrecche*, of wrecche
Oh my! A pile of wrecche.
Stuffed poppets, too, turn’d into innards and bits,
The floor was aull littered with fluff.
And Pepper, Sir Pepper gaze’d on wi despair.
And turn’d from the room in a huff, a huff.
He turn’d from the room in a huff.
He hooly* lies, and muckle* sighs
And minds* the yestreen* past,
And yearns the day — pray come, make haste!
When Loolie’s found a new home, at last, at last.
Yes, when she will be gone at last.
* scarp = side of the road
fain = wish to
wrecche = wretch
hooly = slowly
muckle = much
mind = remember
yestreen = yesterday
Copyright ,Linda Yechiel, 2014 (Note: Loolie did find a new and wonderful forever home!)
Moving right along, I present to you the “English translation” of my latest, based on Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. (See “original” Middle English of the prologue below)
The Doggy-Bury Tails
When day is turning from noon to night
And the sun is rounding the celestial site,
Thoughts turn to the stroll that we take each day
So that when the time nears the dogs all start to bray
And jump up excited and start to spin round
And even off furniture start to rebound.
Oh my what a holler, oh my what a din,
They don’t pay attention, much to my chagrin.
But finally settled they sit for the leash
And sometimes they stay till I give the release.
Then bound to the gate, not a minute to lose
Besotted with life like they’ve been on the booze.
I gather the hounds and we make our short way
To fields that are yonder, to frolic and play.
Not far do we have to walk in tandem
Till I might release them to utter freedom,
In fields so green and blithe spread,
Where each may seek and follow one’s head,
To spring or wallow or roll or leap,
To run the hollows or climb the steep.
Three dogs have I, who are with me this day
Two foundlings mine, and another a stray.
Each one is dear, with canine thoughts all,
Yet each has a tale, all are different, recall.
I have no idea of their ancestral history,
In fact where they came from is much of a mystery.
You might think that a dog is a dog all the same,
But each is so different, I’ll tell them by name.
Honey, The Duchess
Honey is sweet, like her name makes her be,
She never gets dirty, she sits like at tea.
She’s nine years of age, I’ve had her for eight now.
When first I got her she was afraid of her shadow.
Had she grown up with panic and terror and fear?
Whatever had happened to a dog so dear?
It seemed like forever until she learned that life,
Could be happy and calm without any strife.
I taught her all manner of tricks and obedience,
And things like ‘roll over’ she learned with expedience
She even made way in the sport of agility,
And to bring me my shoes she has quite the ability.
She looks like a mixture of Shepherd and Sheltie,
With a thick furry ruff and a tail that’s quite feathery.
Upon a crest like marble she poses
A wreath she needs, of rue* or roses.
So angelic she looks and so graceful and proud
Her thoughts adrift among the clouds.
Then home again, she makes her lair,
On landing’s pass or ‘hind a chair,
She sits like a duchess, her paws neatly crossed,
You might say she treats other dogs with some frost.
Pepper, The Adventurer
Always up and ready to go
He’s full of energy and life, and so…
Pepper has learned all manner of tricks,
Like fetch the ball and bring back sticks.
And one thing that he knows to do
Is bring me a tissue when I go “Atchoo.”
And if I leave the fridge door ajar,
He’ll close it up tight, he is quite the dog star.
In doggie sports he’s got ribbons galore
And we are working to get him more.
He also knows some canine freestyle,
We do it for old folks, it makes them smile.
He’s quite the scoundrel and loves to roll
In any mud puddle that tempts his soul,
There’s nothing better than a good mud bath,
And from there he will roll in the sand on the path,
But better than that, I must tell you,
That better than mud, he’ll roll in poo.
He’s medium-sized with black curly hair,
Seems mostly poodle, but there’s more in there.
Five years ago February I saw him in town,
Day after day he was walking around.
I brought him home and cleaned him up nicely,
And told all around I would find him a fam’ly.
But soon dear Pepper caught my heart
And I knew we would never, ever part.
I’ll never know a friend who’s better
Than this great dog, my wond’ful Pepper.
Loolie, The Foundling
A few months ago Looli joined our abode
Because some mean human dumped her out in the road,
That’s not a very nice thing to do,
And if I were Loolie, I’d try to sue.
But now she is here, we’re her foster home
And she can be happy with no need to roam.
She’s such a sweet girl, loves to shower wet licks
On anyone’s face, that gives her her kicks.
She’s got short little legs and shaggy black hair
But quite a round belly, she’s certainly not spare.
Her tail’s always wagging,and she loves to play
And she will chase balls all the night and all day.
When she has caught one, she’ll jump on a chair,
And rip it to pieces till nothing is there
But shreds of fuzz fabric and crumbles of rubber
And then she will cry so we’ll give her another.
She gets on quite well with the other two canines,
But hasn’t learned how to behave with the felines.
She barks at our cat, and she makes her quite miserable
And chases her, too. It is really quite terrible.
But other than that, she is really quite clever
And we hope to find her a home for forever.
* * * * *
Copyright 2014, Linda Yechiel
Just for fun, I translated (very loosely defined) the prologue into Middle English. I used a few sites, especially this one to help me out. Terms with an asterisk are real Middle English words; otherwise, I used poetic licence.
I am sure any real Middle-English scholar will be horrified!
Nevertheless, it was fun to do and I think it’s fun to read, nonetheless!
When daye is turning from noonë* to nyght
And the sonnë* is rounding the celestial syte,
Thoughts turn to the stroll that we takë each dayë
So that when tyme nears nyce* dogs all start to brayë
And jump priketh hearts and start to spin rund
And even frome relics they woode** rebound.
Oh,my what a steven*, forsoothe what a din,
They will not pay much heed to my waymentyng*.
But finally settled they sitt for the leash
And somdel* they stay till I bid them release.
Then bound to the gate, not a mynute to lose
Besotted with lyfe lyke they’ve been on the booze.
I gather ye hounds and we make our hool* wey
To yonder fields where they be frolic and playë.
Not far do we need be to walk forth in tandem
Till I myght release them to their muche* of freedom,
In fiylds so green and blythie spread,
Where each may follow beastie’s head,
To spring or wallow or roll or leapë,
To run the hollows or climbë the steepë.
Three dogs be myne, with me this dayë
Tweye* foundlings mine, and oon* that’s a strayë.
Each o*) is deare, with canine wene* all,
Yet no* each a tale, all are different, recall.
Me thinkest know not of their ancestral histrey,
Anon where they be fro is muche of a mystery.
You might think that a dog is a dog all the saymë,
But echo* so different, I’ll tell them by namë.
Noone – noon
Sonne – sun
Nyce – foolish
Woode – crazy
Steven – sound
Waymentyng – lamentation
Somdel – somewhat
Hool – whole
Muche – much
Tweye – two
Oon – one
O – one
Wene – thinking
No – know
Echo – each one
And finally (until the muse hits again)… good ol’ Will …
A Shakespearean Sonnet
With drooling mouths and slurping tongues they come,
To grab the meaty bones that I present.
And off to find a special place they run,
To gnaw and chew and love the bones as meant.
One bone for each is the essential plot,
To clean their teeth while they are having joy.
But Poodle Pepper, gracious he is not,
And steals the bone from Honey, naughty boy.
Poor Honey, she has not an ounce of verve,
She sits and looks with wretched eyes a’tear,
Though countless times I counter Pepper’s nerve,
He sallies forth and steals her bone so dear.
So what is there that I can really do?
He ends with none instead of having two.
If you enjoyed this … wait till you see what I do with Milton!