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'MOST ANGLERS ARE VERY HUMANE'--Daily Paper -- Norman Rowland Gale

(Poem #284) 'MOST ANGLERS ARE VERY HUMANE'--Daily Paper
 The kind-hearted angler was sadly pursuing
 His calling unhallowed of choking the fishes;
 He bitterly wept, for of course he was doing
 An action most strongly opposed to his wishes!

 His vertabra shook as he musingly planned
 How kindly to threadle the worm he'd begun--it
 Was plain had the reptile possessed a right hand
 The penitent angler would gladly have wrung it!

 He cast in his float filled with tearful emotion
 And murmured "How fearful, how terrible this is!"
 And just at that moment, amid some commotion,
 He jerked out a panting and rather small /piscis/!

 "Unfortunate fishlet, what dread impulse brought you
 To meddle with bait which I carelessly threw in?
 My dear little swimmer, I'm sorry I caught you,
 So please don't blame me for contriving your ruin!"

 "O barbel and salmon-trout, tench, dace and gugdeon,
 O ev'ry fat jack and each eel (not a conger)
 Why, why will you grieve me and stir up my dudgeon?
 Go, die on his hooks who has eyes that are stronger!"

 But, however, whilst moaning he pulled out a score,
 And continued his wonderful luck till at last--it
 Was plain that his soft heart could bear it no more,
 Too deep were his groans, and--too full was his basket!
-- Norman Rowland Gale
A type of poem that has always intrigued me is one written in response to a
specific incident or situation. This is particularly true when the poem is
humorous - there's an extra piquancy to the fact that the incident the poet
has so amusingly described is indeed true, or, more accurately, that the
poet has produced so wonderfully appropriate a response to the situation.

Today's gently sarcastic poem is a nice example of the genre. The form is
also one very popular among writers of light verse - the predominantly
triple verse, and the heavy use of feminine rhymes, give it a light,
tripping feel (in particular, ending with a feminine rhyme avoids the risk
of closing on a heavy note). Again, it is a somewhat 'playful' form - the
poet often willing to sacrifice the mot juste in favour of a clever rhyme or
unexpected polysyllabic word.

Of course, like most such poems, it was never destined for greatness; but
equally, greatness was never its aim. In fact, even the fact that it has
withstood the test of time is not the point - I like it more for its
topicality, for the fact that it was a wonderful rejoinder to a careless
headline (one wonders where the poets are to immortalise more recent
examples, such as the famous 'Man Found Dead in Graveyard').



Another lovely 'incidental' poem (though in a much harsher vein) is O'Kelly's
Litany for Doneraile poem #266

Norman Gale seems to be another of those poets without an accessible
biography, though you can read several of his poems at the Poets' Corner
[broken link]

20 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Mallika said...


"The Walrus and the Carpenter" by Lewis Carrol
is very much in this vein!



Ray said...

it's quite a funny poem. i love reading the poems featured in this site.

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