William Topaz McGonagall |
Alas! the people's hearts are now full of sorrow
For the deceased Professor Blackie, of Edinboro';
Because he was a Christian man, affable and kind,
And his equal in charitable actions would be hard to find
'Twas in the year of 1895, March the 2nd, he died at 10 o'clock.
Which to his dear wife, and his adopted son, was a great shock;
And before he died he bade farewell to his adopted son and wife.
Which, no doubt, they will remember during life.
Professor Blackie celebrated his golden wedding three years ago,
When he was made the recipient of respect from high and low.
He leaves a widow, but, fortunately, no family,
Which will cause Mrs. Blackie to feel less unhappy.
Professor Blackie will be greatly missed in Edinboro;
Especially those that met him daily will feel great sorrow,
When they think of his never-failing plaid and hazel rung,
For, although he was an old man, he considered he was young.
He had a very striking face, and silvery locks like a seer,
And in the hearts of the Scottish people he was loved most dear;
And many a heart will mourn for him, but all in vain,
Because he never can return to them again.
He was a very kind-hearted man, and in no way vain,
And I'm afraid we ne'er shall look upon his like again;
And to hear him tell Scotch stories, the time did quickly pass,
And for singing Scotch songs few could him surpass.
But I hope e is in heaven, singing with saints above,
Around God's throne, where all is peace and love;
There, where God's children daily doth meet
To sing praises to God, enchanting and sweet.
He had visited almost every part of Europe in his time,
And, like Lord Byron, he loved the Grecian clime;
Nor did he neglect his own dear country,
And few men knew it more thoroughly than he.
On foot he tramped o'er most of bonnie Scotland,
And in his seventies he climbed the highest hills most grand.
Few men in his day could be compared to him,
Because he wasn't hard on fallen creatures when they did sin.
Oh, dearly beloved Professor Blackie, I must conclude my muse,
And to write in praise of thee my pen does not refuse;
Because you were a very Christian man, be it told,
Worthy of a monument, and your name written thereon in letters of gold.
Mark Twain |
On the Erie Canal, it was,
All on a summer's day,
I sailed forth with my parents
Far away to Albany.
From out the clouds at noon that day
There came a dreadful storm,
That piled the billows high about,
And filled us with alarm.
A man came rushing from a house,
Saying, "Snub up your boat I pray,
Snub up your boat, snub up, alas,
Snub up while yet you may."
Our captain cast one glance astern,
Then forward glanced he,
And said, "My wife and little ones
I never more shall see."
Said Dollinger the pilot man,
In noble words, but few,--
"Fear not, but lean on Dollinger,
And he will fetch you through."
The boat drove on, the frightened mules
Tore through the rain and wind,
And bravely still, in danger's post,
The whip-boy strode behind.
"Come 'board, come 'board," the captain cried,
"Nor tempt so wild a storm;"
But still the raging mules advanced,
And still the boy strode on.
Then said the captain to us all,
"Alas, 'tis plain to me,
The greater danger is not there,
But here upon the sea.
So let us strive, while life remains,
To save all souls on board,
And then if die at last we must,
Let . . . . I cannot speak the word!"
Said Dollinger the pilot man,
Tow'ring above the crew,
"Fear not, but trust in Dollinger,
And he will fetch you through."
"Low bridge! low bridge!" all heads went down,
The laboring bark sped on;
A mill we passed, we passed church,
Hamlets, and fields of corn;
And all the world came out to see,
And chased along the shore
Crying, "Alas, alas, the sheeted rain,
The wind, the tempest's roar!
Alas, the gallant ship and crew,
Can nothing help them more?"
And from our deck sad eyes looked out
Across the stormy scene:
The tossing wake of billows aft,
The bending forests green,
The chickens sheltered under carts
In lee of barn the cows,
The skurrying swine with straw in mouth,
The wild spray from our bows!
Now let her go about!
If she misses stays and broaches to,
We're all"--then with a shout,]
Take in more sail!
Lord, what a gale!
Ho, boy, haul taut on the hind mule's tail!"
"Ho! lighten ship! ho! man the pump!
Ho, hostler, heave the lead!
"A quarter-three!--'tis shoaling fast!
Three feet large!--t-h-r-e-e feet!--
Three feet scant!" I cried in fright
"Oh, is there no retreat?"
Said Dollinger, the pilot man,
As on the vessel flew,
"Fear not, but trust in Dollinger,
And he will fetch you through."
A panic struck the bravest hearts,
The boldest cheek turned pale;
For plain to all, this shoaling said
A leak had burst the ditch's bed!
And, straight as bolt from crossbow sped,
Our ship swept on, with shoaling lead,
Before the fearful gale!
"Sever the tow-line! Cripple the mules!"
Too late! There comes a shock!
Another length, and the fated craft
Would have swum in the saving lock!
Then gathered together the shipwrecked crew
And took one last embrace,
While sorrowful tears from despairing eyes
Ran down each hopeless face;
And some did think of their little ones
Whom they never more might see,
And others of waiting wives at home,
And mothers that grieved would be.
But of all the children of misery there
On that poor sinking frame,
But one spake words of hope and faith,
And I worshipped as they came:
Said Dollinger the pilot man,--
(O brave heart, strong and true!)--
"Fear not, but trust in Dollinger,
For he will fetch you through."
Lo! scarce the words have passed his lips
The dauntless prophet say'th,
When every soul about him seeth
A wonder crown his faith!
And count ye all, both great and small,
As numbered with the dead:
For mariner for forty year,
On Erie, boy and man,
I never yet saw such a storm,
Or one't with it began!"
So overboard a keg of nails
And anvils three we threw,
Likewise four bales of gunny-sacks,
Two hundred pounds of glue,
Two sacks of corn, four ditto wheat,
A box of books, a cow,
A violin, Lord Byron's works,
A rip-saw and a sow.
A curve! a curve! the dangers grow!
Haw the head mule!--the aft one gee!
Luff!--bring her to the wind!"
For straight a farmer brought a plank,--
And laying it unto the ship,
In silent awe retired.
Then every sufferer stood amazed
That pilot man before;
A moment stood. Then wondering turned,
And speechless walked ashore.
Dorothy Parker |
The Lives and Times of John Keats,
Percy Bysshe Shelley, and
George Gordon Noel, Lord Byron
Byron and Shelley and Keats
Were a trio of Lyrical treats.
The forehead of Shelley was cluttered with curls,
And Keats never was a descendant of earls,
And Byron walked out with a number of girls,
But it didn't impair the poetical feats
Of Byron and Shelley,
Of Byron and Shelley,
Of Byron and Shelley and Keats.
Ogden Nash |
One thing that literature would be greatly the better for
Would be a more restricted employment by the authors of simile and
Authors of all races, be they Greeks, Romans, Teutons or Celts,
Can't seem just to say that anything is the thing it is but have to
go out of their way to say that it is like something else.
What does it mean when we are told
That that Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold?
In the first place, George Gordon Byron had enough experience
To know that it probably wasn't just one Assyrian, it was a lot of
However, as too many arguments are apt to induce apoplexy and
thus hinder longevity.
We'll let it pass as one Assyrian for the sake of brevity.
Now then, this particular Assyrian, the one whose cohorts were
gleaming in purple and gold,
Just what does the poet mean when he says he came down like a
wold on the fold?
In heaven and earth more than is dreamed of in our philosophy
there are great many things.
But I don't imagine that among them there is a wolf with purple
and gold cohorts or purple and gold anythings.
No, no, Lord Byron, before I'll believe that this Assyrian was
actually like a wolf I must have some kind of proof;
Did he run on all fours and did he have a hairy tail and a big red
mouth and big white teeth and did he say Woof Woof?
Frankly I think it is very unlikely, and all you were entitled to say,
at the very most,
Was that the Assyrian cohorts came down like a lot of Assyrian
cohorts about to destroy the Hebrew host.
But that wasn't fancy enough for Lord Byron, oh dear me no, he
had to invent a lot of figures of speech and then interpolate them,
With the result that whenever you mention Old Testament soldiers
to people they say Oh yes, they're the ones that a lot of
wolves dressed up in gold and purple ate them.
That's the kind of thing that's being done all the time by poets,
from Homer to Tennyson;
They're always comparing ladies to lilies and veal to venison,
And they always say things like that the snow is a white blanket
after a winter storm.
Oh it is, is it, all right then, you sleep under a six-inch blanket of
snow and I'll sleep under a half-inch blanket of unpoetical
blanket material and we'll see which one keeps warm,
And after that maybe you'll begin to comprehend dimly
What I mean by too much metaphor and simile.
Joyce Kilmer |
(For Eleanor Rogers Cox)
For blows on the fort of evil
That never shows a breach,
For terrible life-long races
To a goal no foot can reach,
For reckless leaps into darkness
With hands outstretched to a star,
There is jubilation in Heaven
Where the great dead poets are.
There is joy over disappointment
And delight in hopes that were vain.
Each poet is glad there was no cure
To stop his lonely pain.
For nothing keeps a poet
In his high singing mood
Like unappeasable hunger
For unattainable food.
So fools are glad of the folly
That made them weep and sing,
And Keats is thankful for Fanny Brawne
And Drummond for his king.
They know that on flinty sorrow
And failure and desire
The steel of their souls was hammered
To bring forth the lyric fire.
Lord Byron and Shelley and Plunkett,
McDonough and Hunt and Pearse
See now why their hatred of tyrants
Was so insistently fierce.
Is Freedom only a Will-o'-the-wisp
To cheat a poet's eye?
Be it phantom or fact, it's a noble cause
In which to sing and to die!
So not for the Rainbow taken
And the magical White Bird snared
The poets sing grateful carols
In the place to which they have fared;
But for their lifetime's passion,
The quest that was fruitless and long,
They chorus their loud thanksgiving
To the thorn-crowned Master of Song.
Richard Brautigan |
THE AUTOPSY OF
TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA
This is the autopsy of Trout Fishing in America as if Trout
Fishing in America had been Lord Byron and had died in
Missolonghi, Greece, and afterward never saw the shores
of Idaho again, never saw Carrie Creek, Worsewick Hot
Springs, Paradise Creek, Salt Creek and Duck Lake again.
The Autopsy of Trout Fishing in America:
"The body was in excellent state and appeared as one that
had died suddenly of asphyxiation. The bony cranial vault
was opened and the bones of the cranium were found very
hard without any traces of the sutures like the bones of a
person 80 years, so much so that one would have said that
the cranium was formed by one solitary bone. . . . The
meninges were attached to the internal walls of the cranium
so firmly that while sawing the bone around the interior to
detach the bone from the dura the strength of two robust men
was not sufficient. . . . The cerebrum with cerebellum
weighed about six medical pounds. The kidneys were very
large but healthy and the urinary bladder was relatively
On May 2, 1824, the body of Trout Fishing in America
left Missolonghi by ship destined to arrive in England on the
evening of June 29, 1824.
Trout Fishing in America's body was preserved in a cask
holding one hundred-eighty gallons of spirits: 0, a long way
from Idaho, a long way from Stanley Basin, Little Redfish
Lake, the Big Lost River and from Lake Josephus and the
Big Wood River.
Last night a blue thing, the smoke itself, from our campfire
drifted down the valley, entering into the sound of the bell-
mare until the blue thing and the bell could not be separated,
no matter how hard you tried. There was no crowbar big
enough to do the job.
Yesterday afternoon we drove down the road from Wells
Summit, then we ran into the sheep. They also were being
moved on the road.
A shepherd walked in front of the car, a leafy branch in
his hand, sweeping the sheep aside. He looked like a young,
Skinny Adolf Hitler, but friendly.
I guess there were a thousand sheep on the road. It was
hot and dusty and noisy and took what seemed like a long
At the end of the sheep was a covered wagon being pulled
by two horses. There was a third horse, the bellmare, tied
on the back of the wagon. The white canvas rippled in the
wind and the wagon had no driver. The seat was empty.
Finally the Adolf Hitler, but friendly, shepherd got the
last of them out of the way. He smiled and we waved and said
We were looking for a good place to camp. We drove down
the road, following the Little Smoky about five miles and
didn't see a place that we liked, so we decided to turn around
and go back to a place we had seen just a ways up Carrie Creek.
"I hope those God-damn Sheep aren't on the road, " I said.
We drove back to where we had seen them on the road
and, of course they were gone, but as we drove on up the
road, we just kept fellowing sheep shit. It was ahead of us
for the next mile.
I kept looking down on the meadow by the Little Smokey,
hoping to see the sheep down there, but there wasn't a sheep
in sight. only the shit in front of us on the road.
As if it were a game invented by the spincter muscle, we
knew what the score was. shaking our heads side to side,
Then we went around a bend and the sheep burst like a
roman candle all over the road and again a thousand sheep
and the shepherd in front of us, wondering what the fuck. The
same thing was in our minds.
There was some beer in the back seat. It wasn't exactly
cold, but it wasn't warm either. I tell you I was really embarrassed.
I took a bottle of beer and got out of the car.
I walked up to the shepherd who looked like Adolf Hitler,
"I'm sorry, " I said.
"It's the sheep, " he said. (0 sweet and distant blossoms
of Munich and Berlin!) "Sometimes they are a trouble but it
all works out."
"Would you like a bottle of beer?" I said. "I'm sorry to
put you through this again. "
"Thank you, " he said, shrugging his shoulders. He took
the beer over and put it on the empty seat of the wagon.
That's how it looked. After a long time, we were free of the
sheep. They were like a net dragged finally away from the
We drove up to the place on Carrie Creek and pitched the tent and took our goods out of the car and piled them in the tent.
Then we drove up the creek a ways, above the place where
there were beaver darns and the trout stared back at us like
We filled the back of the car with wood for the fire and I
caught a mess of those leaves for dinner. They were small
and dark and cold. The autumn was good to us.
When we got back to our camp, I saw the shepherd's wagon
down the road a ways and on the meadow I heard the bellmare
and the very distant sound of the sheep.
It was the final circle with the Adolf Hitler, but friendly,
shepherd as the diameter. He was camping down there for
the night. So in the dusk, the blue smoke from our campfire
went down and got in there with the bellmare.
The sheep lulled themselves into senseless sleep, one following
another like the banners of a lost army. I have here a very
important message that just arrived a few moments ago.
It says "Stalingrad. "
TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA
Long live our friend the revolver !
Long live our friend the machine-gun!
--Israeli terrorist chant
One April morning in the sixth grade, we became, first by
accident and then by premeditation, trout fishing in America
It came about this way: we were a strange bunch of kids.
We were always being called in before the principal for
daring and mischievous deeds. The principal was a young
man and a genius in the way he handled us.
One April morning we were standing around in the play
yard, acting as if it were a huge open-air poolhall with the
first-graders coming and going like poolballs. We were all
bored with the prospect of another day's school, studying
One of us had a piece of white chalk and as a first-grader
went walking by, the one of us absentmindedly wrote "Trout
fishing in America" on the back of the first-grader.
The first-grader strained around, trying to read what was
written on his back, but he couldn't see what it was, so he
shrugged his shoulders and went off to play on the swings.
We watched the first-grader walk away with "Trout fishing
in America" written on his back. It looked good and
seemed quite natural and pleasing to the eye that a first-
grader should have "Trout fishing in America" written in
chalk on his back.
The next time I saw a first-grader, I borrowed my friend's
piece of chalk and said, "First-grader, you're wanted over
The first-grader came over to me and I said, "Turn
The first-grader turned around and I wrote "Trout fishing
in America" on his back. It looked even better on the second
first-grader. We couldn't help but admire it. "Trout fishing
in America." It certianly did add something to the first-
graders. It compleated them and gave them a kind of class
"It reallt looks good, doesn't it?"
"There are a lot more first-graders over there by the monkey-
"Lets get some more chalk."
We all got hold of chalk and later in the day, by the end of
lunch period, almost all of the first-graders had "Trout fishing
in America" written on their backs, girls included.
Complaints began arriving at the principal's office from
the first-grade teachers. One of the complaints was in the
form of a little girl.
"Miss Robins sent me, " she said to the principal. "She
told me to have you look at this."
"Look at what?" the principal said, staring at the empty
"At my back, " she said.
The little girl turned around and the principal read aloud,
"Trout fishing in America."
"Who did this?" the principal said.
That gang of sixth-graders," she said. "The bad ones.
They've done it to all us first-graders. We all look like this.
"Trout fishing in America.' What does it mean? I just got
this sweater new from my grandma. "
"Huh.'Trout fishing in America, " the principal said."Tell
Miss Robins I'11 be down to see her in a little while," and
excused the girl and a short time later we terrorists were
summoned up from the lower world.
We reluctantly stamped into the principal's office, fidgeting
and pawing our feet and looking out the windows and yawning
and one of us suddenly got an insane blink going and putting
our hands into our pockets and looking away and then back
again and looking up at the light fixture on the ceiling, how
much it looked like a boiled potato, and down again and at the
picture of the principal's mother on the wall. She had been a
star in the silent pictures and was tied to a railroad track.
"Does 'Trout fishing in America' seem at all familiar to
you boys?" the principal said. "I wonder if perhaps you've
seen it written down anywhere today in your travels? 'Trout
fishing in America.' Think hard about it for a minute."
We all thought hard about it.
There was a silence in the room, a silence that we all
knew intimately, having been at the principal's office quite a
few times in the past.
"Let me see if I can help you," the principal said. "Perhaps
you saw 'Trout fishing in America' written in chalk on
the backs of the first-graders. I wonder how it got there."
We couldn't help but smile nervously.
"I just came back from Miss Robin's first-grade class,"
the principal said. "I asked all those who had 'Trout fishing
in America' written on their backs to hold up their hands,and
all the children in the class held up their hands, except one
and he had spent his whole lunch period hiding in the lavatory.
What do you boys make of it . . . ? This 'Trout fishing in
We didn't say anything.
The one of us still had his mad blink going. I am certain
that it was his guilty blink that always gave us away. We
should have gotten rid of him at the beginning of the sixth
"You're all guilty, aren't you?" he said. "Is there one of
you who isn't guilty? If there is, speak up. Now. "
We were all silent except for blink, blink, blink, blink, blink.
Suddenly I could hear his God-damn eye blinking. It was very much
like the sound of an insect laying the 1, 000, 000th egg of our
"The whole bunch of you did it. Why? . . . Why 'Trout
fishing in America' on the backs of the first-graders?"
And then the principal went into his famous E=MC2 sixth-
grade gimmick, the thing he always used in dealing with us.
"Now wouldn't it look funny, " he said. "If I asked all your
teachers to come in here, and then I told the teachers all to
turn around, and then I took a piece of chalk and wrote 'Trout
fishing in America' on their backs?"
We all giggled nervously and blushed faintly.
"Would you like to see your teachers walking around all
day with 'Trout fishing in America' written on their backs,
trying to teach you about Cuba? That would look silly, wouldn't
it? You wouldn't like to see that would you? That wouldn't do
at all, would it?"
"No," we said like a Greek chorus some of us saying it
with our voices and some of us by nodding our heads, and
then there was the blink, blink, blink.
"That's what I thought, " he said. "The first-graders look
up to you and admire you like the teachers look up to me and
admire me, It just won't do to write 'Trout fishing in America'
on their backs. Are we agreed, gentlemen?"
We were agreed.
I tell you it worked every God-damn time.
Of course it had to work.
"All right, " he said. "I'll consider trout fishing in Ameri-
ca to have come to an end. Agreed?"
"Blink, blink. "
But it wasn't completely over, for it took a while to get
trout fishing in America off the clothes of the first-graders.
A fair percentage of trout fishing in America was gone the
next day. The mothers did this by simply putting clean
clothes on their children, but there were a lot of kids whose
mothers just tried to wipe it off and then sent them back to
school the next day with the same clothes on, but you could
still see "Trout fishing in America" faintly outlined on their
backs. But after a few more days trout fishing in America
disappeared altogether as it was destined to from its very
beginning, and a kind of autumn fell over the first grade.
TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA
WITH THE FBI
Dear Trout Fishing in America,
last week walking along lower market on the way to work
saw the pictures of the FBI's TEN MOST WANTED MEN in
the window of a store. the dodger under one of the pictures
was folded under at both sides and you couldn't read all of it.
the picture showed a nice, clean-cut-looking guy with freckles
and curly (red?) hair
RICHARD LAWRENCE MARQUETTE
Aliases: Richard Lawrence Marquette, Richard
26, born Dec. 12, 1934, Portland, Oregon
170 to 180 pounds
light brown, cut short
Complexion: ruddy Race:
white Nationality: American
auto body w
arks: 6" hernia scar; tattoo "Mom" in wreath on
ull upper denture, may also have lower denture.
s, and is an avid trout fisherman.
(this is how the dodger looked cut off on both sides and you
couldn't make out any more, even what he was wanted for.)
Your old buddy, Pard
Your letter explains why I saw two FBI agents watching a
trout stream last week. They watched a path that came down
through the trees and then circled a large black stump and
led to a deep pool. Trout were rising in the pool. The FBI
agents watched the path, the trees, the black stump, the pool
and the trout as if they were all holes punched in a card that
had just come out of a computer. The afternoon sun kept
changing everything as it moved across the sky, and the FBI
agents kept changing with the sun. It appears to be part of
Trout Fishing in America