Friday, February 26, 2010
Gigantic Near an A—hole
Speaking of parodies, as I was the other day, what a pleasure to stumble again on Swinburne’s parodies of the Brownings, far more readable things than any amount of Atalanta in Calydon or the algolagniac and roundel-addicted bard of Putney Hill’s other more self-consciously (which is to say humour-bypassed) decadent productions. I am also reminded, now that I mention Swinburne, of the story of George Moore dropping in on him only to find him dangling upside down naked, and descending to ask the interloping Irishman, And what the hell do you want? But how could one not fall for the four-piece suit of that Victorian punctuation (the comma tucked inside a close-bracket), the swagger stick of the double em dash prodding you to fill in those filthy gaps, the over-emphatic italics, and the outbreak of the too-rarely-seen q-word:
That is a p——,
But this is a c——!
For a cripple, a stick;
For the hounds, the hunt;
And for you, my duck,
(As you are such a brick
As care to f——,)
Here’s a q—— to lick,
And an a—— to suck!
An academic I greatly admire recently told me about a spot of bother from a student when, in a lecture, he quoted Swinburne’s lines on the death of Oscar Wilde (‘it was for sinners such as this, /That Hell was created bottomless’), suggesting that all that anti-Christian posturing must have enjoined a refusal to (wait for it, wait for it) turn the other cheek. But the parodies get better than the one I just quoted. How about this:
‘There is no c——,’ the b—— saith,
But none, ‘There is no bottom’;
And Paphos oft, with bated breath,
Will use the terms of Sodom:
And what, when seen by girls in front,
Was but a lank limp tassel,
Becomes, though puny near a c——,
Gigantic near an a—hole.
The last two lines here remind me of the joke about Winston Churchill taking a pee in the House of Commons gents’ when Clement Attlee walks in and stands beside him. Churchill begins to edge away nervously. What’s the matter Winston?, Attlee asks, What have I done to you now? Nothing, Churchill answers, but it’s just that whenever you see anything big you want to nationalize it.
That’s a very tenuous segue, I now realize, but I never yet saw an invitation to lower the tone I couldn’t take and run with. Anyone with bawdy parodies of their own or smutty jokes triggered by reading bawdy parodies, into the comment stream with them, please.