The Augustan Age in Briton (roughly 1680-1740) was a great age of parody. The poems below from Kathy King’s English 306 class (fall 2007) show that the indignant, malicious, and hilarious spirit of parody lives on in Montevallo. At the end of many of the poems you will find the writer’s assessment of his or her success in parodying, imitating, and/or answering the original. Here they are, in no particular order: poems by Amber Gilmore, Evan Carter, Sara Fowler, Jamie King, and Matthew Roth.
A Nymph Most Bewitching
(inspired by Behn’s “The Disappointment”)
by Amber Gilmore
Young Lysander stopped along his journey
To take a pause in an open glade;
There he rested, weak and weary,
For a moment’s peace he prayed.
His horse wandered far, searching
Among the brush for a refreshing stream,
Clearing the path with his crunching.
The earthly sounds lost in a dream,
The young man slumbered.
Upon waking his mission he no longer remembered.
The night had fallen, the sun had set.
His steed companion he would not encounter;
This grievance alone he would regret.
As he traveled, the woods around him seemed to gather.
The air was still; there was no song
Of the nightingale. All was eerie quiet.
For a warm fire and friendly faces he longed,
Now he would welcome the din and riot.
But hark! Lysander heard a voice,
That of an angel, foretelling great beauty and poise.
He saw her then, a figure divine
Illumined by the moonlight.
With long flowing hair and face so fine,
Lysander stood awed at the sight.
Her nude form was covered discreetly
By her tresses, ebony against porcelain skin;
Her sensuous lips smiled so sweetly
Drawing him, luring him in.
Lysander surrendered, embracing the belle,
Never to realize he was under her spell.
All night they tumbled carelessly,
Glistening, for breath he gasped.
She seduced him further mercilessly
Until words of love and adoration he rasped.
With a triumphant smile the beauty arose,
Bidding Lysander to follow
To her home among the laurel grove
Where the lives of men were swallowed.
Again she wooed him to her bed,
Her lust and his misery would soon be wed.
Lovers from her past now adorned
Every tree’s length and limb;
Strung up with vines and pierced with thorns-
The same would be done to him.
The nymph was no ordinary maid:
She fed off the lust of men
‘Til nothing but husks with whom she laid
Forced her to lay trap again.
To Lysander she now turned her vicious quest
Forevermore he lingered, and even still remains her guest.
A Description of a Montevallo Shower (from “A Description of a City Shower”)
By Evan Carter
When in this town a raging storm of fury
That causes damsels in distress to hurry
There is a sight to capture one’s attent’:
The blackened clouds from whence the rain was sent!
The droplets come, not vertically they fall,
But only horizontally come all.
The streets on which one goes by certain means
Are changed to correspond with other things:
Where once they were for horse or car or foot,
They now require the paddle and the boat!
These streets that transformed into rivers are
No longer passable by modern car.
The bricks outside the Comer building fill
With rain until it rushes down the hill.
It’s pointless to resist the rain’s caress,
Your hair is certainly a soggy mess.
The wayward goer’s eyes he tries to shield
But to the deluge everyone must yield,
For though it rains but once or twice a year
The weather captivates by reign* of fear.
If ever one is caught in rainstorm, hark!
Don’t be surprised if he sees Noah’s Ark!
The Lord without a warning will return
And so the clouds in Montevallo turn.
I decided to write this Mock-Georgic after Swift’s “A Description of a City Shower” in honor of Montevallo’s scarce-but-very-frightening downpours. Swift was very proud of his Georgic, and I feel similarly towards mine. I used heroic couplets and attempted to emulate Swift’s manners of punctuation and syntax. The language in my poem, I’m afraid, leaves a bit to be desired in comparison to Swift’s flowing descriptions. I also noted the extremely genius pun on “reign” and rain.” Wow.
MacBritnoe (from “Mac Flecknoe”)
By Evan Carter
She cannot dance and chooses not to sing,
Yet manages to somehow entertain.
What skill she masters thus to give the crowd
A show to watch when skill is not allowed
To be a part of her own repertoire.
She needs to put on more than just a bra!
The cellulite upon her hams exists
to make it to the hottest* top ten lists.
The sagging pouch where once her baby grew
Now jiggles round (on beat) all filled with brew
The cigarettes that hang from out her mouth
Might make one think that she could be uncouth,
But fries that add to Britney’s sausage thighs
Are seen as beautiful in wisest eyes.
The high-class see the beauty in her dance,
While only prudes scoff at her lack of pants.
Consider now her monetary state:
She has whate’er her small mind can create.
When she can spend one thousand dollars here,
And I have that to last about a year,
And she has spent ten thousand dollars there,
What did she get? -extensions in her hair.
With Paris Hilton every night she goes
To hit the clubs and look like stupid hoes.
Poor K-Fed doesn’t really like it much
When Britney parties with the “Fire-Crotch.”
Uneducated think they shallow are,
But really constantly they raise the bar.*
Her limousine she rides without a care,
And exits nary wearing underwear.
How glamorous is the woman flashing cunt,
Her appetite for lust shall never want
For lines of male escorts to give her chase:
They love the child star who once was chaste.
So obvious is Britney in success
That one cannot afford to give her less
Than that which she has earned and deserves here,
A front page on the tabloids drinking beer.
I patterned this gem after Dryden’s “Mac Flecknoe”, which was rather enjoyable for me to read. Dryden’s style is deadpan and strikingly funny to me (as I have an unusual sense of humor). The first person to come to mind for this assignment was Mrs. Spears, and I am sure that there was no lack of fantastic material to work from. Note the award-winning display of punnage: “Bar,” as in “fix me a Bloody Mary, Jack.” (Oh, I crack myself up.) I tried to create a similar structure in my poem as Dryden has created: heroic couplets again, lack of stanza separation, and copious usage of end-of-line punctuation.
The Imperfect Enjoinment (from “The Imperfect Enjoyment” and “The
By Evan Carter
One night the drunken Lysander
With briny beer upon his breath
Drank to an easy maiden’s health
“Oh may this night I be her lover!”
Her ear was slightly out of reach
And missed the joyous revelry
He neared and said, “I thee beseech
To interrupt you karaoke”
And so he grabbed her by the thigh
And so she shot her mace into his eye
Advances from the av’rage man
Would normally at this be swayed
But what was unbeknownst to maid
Persistence had defined this swain
The more his eyes they burned like fire
And maddened every sense he had
It most affected his desire
Which made his countenance so glad
Fair Phyllis saw this lover’s stare
And wished that she had better fixed her hair
She drew her hand around his gut
Leading his trembling hand to see
Just how her legs were prickly
And then he tried to grab her butt
But first he had to pay his dues
He ordered her a woman’s drink
And bid the jukebox play some blues
He promised her a coat of mink
And tabbed another round for him
But oh, the lights were growing rather dim
The two became both quickly drunk
With kisses ‘round the plastered face
That recently had dealt with mace
Alas! They’re playing honky-tonk!
He grabbed his partner up to dance
They were excited as could be
She stumbled over ‘Sander’s pants
And held on for security
They tumbled down and I shall cede
They passed out before they could do the deed!
This piece presented a bit more complication in construction and form. Heroic couplets are, for me, a rather natural, pleasing, flowing form of metrical structuring. Behn’s “The Disappointment” carries a much different metrical tune: at times I do not like the way the setup plays out. The line codification is ABBA, CDCD, EE, with iambic tetrameter, except for the last line, the tenth, which is iambic pentameter. Unfortunately, Behn’s grasp, or at least her application, of iambic beat is somewhat loose. As you may be able to tell, I have attempted to recreate the stumbling iambic murder that Behn has originally presented.
Response to Swift’s “A Lady’s Dressing Room”
By Sarah Fowler
A certain man attempts to press his luck
And from the lady, her secrets pluck
So as he sneaks into her private room
He begins to look upon things with gloom
Through the vanity mirror he thinks he sees
What is too smelly by many degrees
The clothes upon the chair, he cannot bare
And with a sad look as he sniffs the air
Finds sadly, women aren’t so perfect
Alas, he chooses to sit and correct
The false idea men have about ladies
And the real secret about their undies
But the truth lies not in our own chambers
But in the fantasies they believe in.
It is because of men we dress so fair
And flaunt our beauty in expensive wares
It is because of them that we must
Gaze, fiddle, pluck and ultimately adjust
Our hairstyles to that of society
And apply perfumes out of sheer piety
The makeup to cover up age and stains
That keeps us looking glamorous in rains
And to bear the torture of the morning
So that we may give some sort of warning
To those men we might pretend to want,
Or to those men which we might choose to flaunt.
Then at night to grace her home halls and find
Her room, her secret has been unwinded
The powders and lacquers through which she grins
Have been tossed aside with such dreadful sin
And what’s worse, in the paper tomorrow
Entire contents of her box written in such sorrow
For this one man who could not yet contain
His secret desire to know but know in vain
Shall be sleeping with himself tonight
The sure punishment of his sinful plight
I wrote this piece in response to Swift’s “The Ladies Dressing Room,” yet I chose to take a different stance than Mary Wortley did. I wanted to look at it as if it is man’s fault women conceal their bodily functions, and that curiosity kills the cat. I feel that this was the best of my three. I think I satired decently enough, and this was certainly the most fun to write. I was most pleased with this piece.
Portrait of an Heiress (inspired by Dryden’s “MacFlecknoe”)
By Jamie King
In the empire of vain celebrity
Paris governs with strict audacity.
No one can follow your dedication,
To shopping with so much concentration.
For in vainness, you reign the most supreme
Even Tinkerbell’s wardrobe is extreme.
You proved yourself quite the avid writer
Your Confessions made the world shine brighter.
For not anyone can write a book so good
Except the ignorant and fool withstood.
Even the album was great beyond compare
Milli Vanilli is proud of their heir.
“Stars are blind” is such a wonderful hit
But your busy day job you should not quit.
As for an actress, no words can describe
To see House of Wax one must take a bribe.
One Night in Paris raises you above
Rick Salomon forwards it with his love.
The internet is such a superb place
People will pay to see the look on your face.
We know you like to be captured on tape
But next time try to evade that ill scrape
Stick to partying it is your passion
Strutting about with the latest fashion
With Lindsey, Brittany, and Nicole in tow
Earning D.U.I’s anywhere you all go.
But the time has come to serve your sentence
The public watches for your repentance.
It is time to trade your Prada for stripes
Beware in prison you will meet all types
Of people who think you are not unique
They might even consider you a freak.
Do not worry your publicist awaits
To clean up all of your messy mistakes.
For now you are out to begin anew
Your next daring act is way overdue.
For news is slow, your public is eager
Quench their thirst, so do not act so meager.
Keep up the good work, keep being exposed
Wait much longer and you will be disposed.
Step up or hand down your inheritance
Go forth, do not ignore your arrogance.
Go forth and beleaguer, go and make haste
For everyone loves to see you disgraced.
Between the Dawns (inspired by Behn’s “The Disappointment”)
By Jamie King
As day is consumed by night,
And unyielding minds by Hypnos are claimed,
By winding brooks, two lovers proclaimed,
To each other, their love at first sight.
“Come lay with me, my Sylvia” cried
The amorous Shepard to his reward.
Sylvia, in her passion adored,
Agreed to Lysander with pride.
Cupid with his bow stringed tight
To the two lovers took flight.
But on that soft countryside,
While the two fervent lovers lay
Aphrodite in her jealous rage laid prey
To Sylvia by pushing her aside
As an appealing shepardess walked on by
Sylvia in her fit of rage
In that sweet field, did engage
To say her final goodbye.
“But fair Sylvia, I am but a man.
Surely she is a consort of Pan.”
But in that serene place,
Sylvia cursed the gods in vain
For in her intense disdain
Lysander has to her disgraced.
The scorned Sylvia took her flight
And the miserable Lysander was left
Feeling the contempt of theft
That has taken place on this quiet night.
The plight of love has come and gone,
As Helios arrives once more with dawn.
Carlos Mencia is a Big, Fat, Stupid Idiot: MacFlecknoe Spoof
By Matthew Roth
Of social satire’s vessel in the realm
There is but one true captain at the helm.
Whose witty jokes the spectrum truly span
From midgets, to the smell of Mexicans.
And in politeness little stock he holds,
Instead he crafts his stage persona bold.
For after all, the issues of the day
Require no real sense of discrepancy.
The differences of race are solved through types
And telling jokes is nothing more than hype.
Stale, patriotic poses, tailor-fit
Grant license to the dullness of his wit,
Which, unapologizing, at its worst
Can stand upon the freedom of the first.
For, what’s complex about the right to speech
When easy jokes are well within his reach?
And those who don’t appreciate his barbs
Are simply just uptight, or labeled ‘tards.
The dimwit is his real cash cow these days
Providing him his popular catch-phrase,
A tri-syllabic, richly hewn brocade
Plucked deftly from the parlance of third grade.
His characterizations are all such
That viewers aren’t required to ponder much.
Just look: sombrero, sandals, and poncho,
A squinting, Spanish gent, mustachioed.
The brash, licentious, unlearned, swarthy moor
Will simply call his baby’s mother “whore.”
All Middle-Easterners will turbans wear
With robes, and beards and oaths of jihad swear.
The homosexuals are simpler still,
Effeminate, queer lads with voices shrill.
Around each group he plainly draws the lines
On clear division thus, Carlos relies.
Each group’s derogatory badge shall bear
An equal time onscreen, ‘tis only fair.
For in a world which needs lines to abate,
Mencia’s Mind the lines perpetuates.
I wanted my Mac Flecknoe spoof to be about Carlos Mencia because I feel that if Shadwell was, as Dryden implies, a talentless hack who found great popularity and in doing so actually posed a threat to the artistic form he practiced then Mencia is the Shadwell of today. Mencia’s television show, alongside several others, doesn’t just make me doubt the judgment of the creative department at Comedy Central (who we all rely on for the continuation of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report) but of the future of television in general. The type of anti-political correctness approach that Mencia adopts really isn’t the problem I have with him, it’s the fact that he consistently relies on stereotypes for his humor in a way that insults the viewers intelligence far more than any sense of proprietary boundaries.
I tried to focus on making my poem as vituperative as possible to stay in the form of Dryden’s work, and I think managed to keep a lot of the biting tone. The problem that I kept running into was how to maintain the biting tone within the form of praise. In this aspect I think I failed. A lot of my poem seems to be criticism that could be read either at critical face value, or as a rhetorically underhanded compliment, but never really demands to be read as mockingly praiseful like Dryden’s does.
Mock Georgic: Description of a Hollywood Shower
(inspired by Swift’s “Description of a City Shower”)
By Matthew Roth
Beyond the letters perched atop the hills,
Above the town that manufactures thrills,
Dense, looming storm clouds shudder, drift and swell
And threaten to unleash their blustery hell.
Across the sparkling ‘scape their shadows fall
To darken trailers, sets, old shopping malls,
Boutiques, salons, designer stores with brands
Elite enough for plastic to change hands.
The shower then begins, and faces frown
To feel precipitation in their town,
For who would know that such a climate warm
Could, interrupting sun, indulge a storm?
Why, after all, L.A. just can’t be beat
When one is searching for a bronzing heat.
But now the showers build and block the rays
So tanning nymphs all shrug and reach for sprays.
Within the briefest quarter of an hour
The storm has reached the full force of its power,
And floods its surging waters through the rows
Of storerooms in the rent of studios.
And all the goods that in the storerooms sit
The frothy tide unto the street commits.
Gorilla suits, and geisha wigs, and things
Like business suits and golden angels’ wings,
Pink poodle skirts, and spaceman uniforms
All drift along, escaping in the storm.
An arsenal of ray-guns, swords, and tanks
Float impotently by in sorry ranks.
A pirate ship and UFO endure
The currents past the Chinese theatre.
An old canoe, just glad to be outside
Concedes to take some robots for a ride.
And all the sets on which these pieces play
Are also freed to frolic in the fray;
Thus onlookers are treated to the sight
Of half a taxi running traffic lights.
A coffee shop’s green sofa, overturned
And roman chariots with Grecian urns,
As well as kitchens furnished full in chrome
With all the modern comforts of a home:
Appliances that shimmer like the sun,
Stoves that don’t heat, dishwashers that don’t run.
My main concern in writing this was trying to capture a place in the same way that Swift used Virgil’s Georgic form to portray the details of city life. As far as characterizing a place I tried to focus on the superficiality of Hollywood, which I think I pulled off best in the last four lines, and probably not anywhere else. While Swift managed to portray a fairly wide range of individual characters in his poem my only real characters are tanning ladies who turn to bronzing lotion when the rains come. Also, since I’m not particularly versed in classical literature my incorporation of any sort of classical reference is limited to roman chariots and Grecian urns. Though, I could turn around and attribute the glossy limits of my exposure to the classics to popular culture, which would reinterpret my inclusion of the roman chariots as an allusion to Hollywood’s empty blockbusterification of the classical world. I think that would do nicely.
Rape of the Lock Spoof
By Matthew Roth
The morning light crept o’er the windowpane
And from the porch, the ling’ring sound of rain
Aroused the hero’s figure where he lay
And introduced his knighthood and the day.
Great men doth rarely dally, and therefore
The hero from the featherbed sheets tore
And rent himself from slumber’s symbiosis
And ignorance of morning’s halitosis.
Alas! The wind that bellowed from the cave
Was foul enough to choke the rudest knave.
The smell of putrid dairy filled the room
As though some vile repugnant flow’r had bloomed.
The night had, in his mouth, imposed and seasoned
For in the morn his breath’d been touched by daemons.
Quick! To the chamber flies our hero’s feet
And loud slaps echo as the tiles they meet.
The purpose of the morning hours was clear
For on this day he was to see his dear.
The fair, beloved maid to whom he’s sworn
Whose dainty heart and nostrils would be torn
If such a rancid oath were breathed her way:
The pillars of her fortitude would sway.
His quest forthcoming and his efforts bold,
Such loathsome odors love could not behold.
And so without a moment’s hesitation
Upon arriving at his cleaning station
He reaches for the weapon of the day
To fight bad breath, plaque build-up, tooth decay.
The bristles of his instrument could flush
A dragon from a cave with one swift brush.
Through direst dental straights its reach could weave
And navigate a labyrinth with ease.
Why, balanced perfectly within his hand
It was the finest weapon in the land.
To prep for battle on his brush he spread
The finest minty pastes held in good stead.
Then from his neck he hung a bib to shield
His person from the mess of the ordeal.
Beside the sink to rinse out afterward
A cleansing wash into a cup he poured.
Now to one knee upon the tile he kneels
And unto Mars and Venus he appeals.
For only with their favour on him laden
Could he smite daemon’s breath and, thus, his maiden.
Then rising, fully prepped, his foe to face
Into his mirrored mouth he turns his gaze,
And plunging deep into the heart of stench
His weapon starts to scrub the jaws unclenched.
Through buildup of the mouth his bristles cut
While lips contain the foam by pursing shut.
But from the frothing battle issues out
The minty martial gore of cleaning mouths.
Now tartar from bicuspids brushing parts
Incisors start to shine like works of art.
And, finished with the brush, the hero spits.
Against the basin drain the stench foam hits.
The rinse is cool and leaves a pleasant taste
Within the battle-pit upon his face.
So, smiling to be rid of daemon’s breath
Our hero leaves the chamber and gets dressed.
Quite pleased with pleasant odors to present
Unto the maiden’s dainty nose, our gent
Strides to the street, a skip within his step.
But one should know that partly in his pep
He knows that in the night he still must rest
And, barring sleep hygiene, repeat the quest.
Zeugmas are hard! I think I only managed to incorporate one that really worked, the line about smiting bad breath and thus his maid. It’s a lot of work to maintain heroic couplets, an elevated style and still manage to think up neat little zeugmas and the like. I definitely don’t compare to Pope at the end of the day. Nonetheless, I’m proud of my zeugma!