Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Little Poetry

I'll try to make the lead in to this one as short as possible. I've been reading Bullfinch, who was a guy in the 1800s who wrote vast, in-depth, summaries of all sorts of things. I'm just starting to wade through his summaries of ancient literature and read about the time Jupiter and Mercury visited Phrygia in human form and went looking for hospitality. Finding none they finally happened on the home of an elderly couple who welcomed them. To make a summary of a long story even shorter, they hung out a while, then the two gods revealed themselves, sank the rest of the town under a lake and left only the elderly couple's hut, which they turned into a temple.

To finally get to the point, Swift drafted a more modern version in which two saints do the visiting and turn the happy couple's home into a church. I'm not a huge fan of poetry, but this one has a lot of appeal to a carpenter. Anyone who can use the word "joists" and then rhyme it is OK in my book. The last line is also a killer, I've read it five times now and I'm still on the verge of peeing my pants. Here it is, for your amusement, an excerpt:

They scarce had spoke, when, fair and soft,
The roof began to mount aloft;
Aloft rose every beam and rafter;
The heavy wall climbed slowly after.
The chimney widened and grew higher,
Became a steeple with a spire.
The kettle to the top was hoist,
And there stood fastened to a joist, (Ha!)
But with the upside down, to show
Its inclination for below;
In vain, for a superior force,
Applied at bottom, stops its course;
Doomed ever in suspense to dwell,
'Tis now no kettle, but a bell.
A wooden jack, which had almost
Lost by disuse the art to roast,
A sudden alteration feels.
Increased by new intestine wheels;
And, what exalts the wonder more,
The number made the motion slower;
The flier, though 't had leaden feet,
Turned round so quick you scarce could see 't'
But slackened by some secret power,
Now hardly moves and inch an hour.
The jack and chimney, near allied,
Had never left each other's side;
The chimney to a steeple grown,
The jack would not be left alone;
But up against the steeple reared,
Became a clock, and still adhered;
And still its love to household cares
By a shrill voice at noon declared,
Warning the cook-maid not to burn
That roast meat which it cannot turn.
The groaning chair began to crawl,
Like a huge snail, along the wall;
There stuck aloft in public view,
And with small change, a pulpit grew.
A bedstead of the antique mode,
Compact of timber many a load,
Such as our ancestors did use,
Was metamorphosed into pews,
Which still their ancient nature keep
By lodging folks disposed to sleep.

Yup... still funny.

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