Wednesday, 10 June 2009

It was Jack who built this shitty house.

I christen this blog with one of the first cut-up (or proto-cutup to be fair) poems I ever read--a sonnet pieced together by Samuel Taylor Coleridge entirely from snippets and phrases from other poems throughout his ouvre, and published under his satirical pseudonym Nehemiah Higginbottom in The Monthly Magazine in 1796 (later reprinted in a footnote to Coleridge's Biographia Literaria, on which I first weaned my Philosophic teeth). The poem was intended as a commentary on form divorced from conceptual neccessity, and employs the common 19th Century satirical device of the House that Jack Built--with Jack literally mooning us bare-arsed at the end.

Don't ever say I don't repay my poetic debts, Mr. Coleridge, you turn-coat Tory Monarchist bastard.

Lamented Jack! and here his malt he pil'd,
Cautious in vain! these rats, that squeak so wild,
Squeak not unconscious of their father's guilt.
Did he not see her gleaming thro' the glade!
Belike 'twas she, the maiden all forlorn.
What tho' she milk no cow with crumpled horn,
Yet, aye she haunts the dale where erst she stray'd:
And aye, beside her stalks her amorous knight!
Still on his thighs their wonted brogues are worn,
And thro' those brogues, still tatter'd and betorn,
His hindward charms gleam an unearthly white.
Ah! thus thro' broken clouds at night's high noon
Peeps in fair fragments forth the full-orb'd harvest moon!


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