Tuesday, May 07, 2013

File this one for Columbus Day

I suppose I should have saved this for October and the celebration of the depradation of the native peoples,  but I just found it now and I'm afraid I will forget it then.  So:
Hail!  oh King of Aragon!
Reign!  oh princely paragon!
Down upon your marrowbone,
Long live the King!
Monarch mightier is he, sir,
Than Joe Smith or Julius Caesar,
Brigham Young or Nebuchadnezzar,
Long live the King
And hail to Isabella, too,
For she's a right good fellow too,
And a right good tune to bellow to
Is long live the Queen!
 So Constance Rourke in her classic American Humor: A Study of the National Character (NYRB 2004; original 1931).  This from a certain Columbus el Filibustro, the product of one John Brougham, working in the 1840s.  Roarke says he "produced a lusty, gay, and savage humor,"  which is within the bounds of acceptable exaggeration, and says his best work "will bear comparison with Gilbert and Sullivan," which is not (unless the purpose of the comparison is to remind how vastly superior G and S are).

But what gets me is the echo of T.H. White, memorable for, inter alia,
God save king Pendragon
Long may his reign drag on.
 ...which sounds to me lot like outright pilferage.  And also
Confound their politics
Frustrate their knavish tricks;
On him our hopes we fix--
He is our king.
 Which is, of course, not comedy at  all, or at least not intentionally so. I haven't troubled to determine whether this proper second verse precedes Brougham or follows him.

For rhyming, I suppose it is also proper to measure Brougham against
But oh ye lords of ladies intellectual, 
Inform us truly - have they not henpecked you all?
And if Lord Byron can get away with it, I see no reason to stick up our nose at Brougham.

Afterthought:  For perspective, note that five of the seven counties with the lowest incomes in the United States are in South Dakota.  Bet you can guess what is going on there.

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