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Strugnell's Rubaiyat -- Wendy Cope

This is but one of several works attributed by Wendy Cope to the
impressionable South London poet Jason Strugnell, whose misfortune has been
to fall under the all-too-obvious influence of one great poet after
another... here, Strugnell encounters Edward Fitzgerald and Omar Khayyam:
(Poem #587) Strugnell's Rubaiyat

 Awake! for Morning on the Pitch of Night
 Has whistled and has put the Stars to Flight.
 The incandescent football in the East
 Has brought the splendour of Tulse Hill to Light.


 Another Pint! Come, loosen up, have Fun!
 Fling off your Hang-ups and enjoy the Sun:
 Time's Spacecraft all too soon will carry you
 Away - and Lo! the Countdown has begun


 Here with a Bag of Crisps beneath the Bough,
 A Can of Beer, a Radio - and Thou
 Beside me half asleep in Brockwell Park
 And Brockwell Park is Paradise enow.


 Some Men to everlasting Bliss aspire,
 Their lives, Auditions for the heavenly Choir:
 Oh, use your Credit Card and waive the Rest -
 Brave Music of a distant Amplifier!


 Oh, come with Strugnell - Argument's no Tonic.
 One thing's certain: Life flies supersonic.
 One thing's certain: Man's Evasion chronic -
 The Flower that's blown can never be bionic.


 The Moving Telex writes, and having writ,
 Moves on; nor all thy Therapy nor Wit
 Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line
 Nor Tide nor Daz wash out a word of it.
-- Wendy Cope
Wendy Cope is one of the most gifted parodists around, and Strugnell's
Rubaiyat invariably has me laughing out loud - especially the line about
"the incandescent football in the East". Actually, it's not just the one
line; the entire poem is blisteringly funny, transforming the sublime to the
ridiculous with effortless ease. Where Khayyam talks amout Life and the Soul
and Desire, Strugnell's subjects are humbler: the distant Amplifier, the
Moving Telex, Therapy, Tide and Daz...


PS. Time's Spacecraft - perhaps a descendant of Time's Winged Chariot? See
Andrew Marvell, poem #158


The complete Rubaiyat can be found at

We've run a few excerpts from it in the past (including several of the
verses parodied above); you can read them at
poem #162
poem #342
poem #545

[Britannica on the Art of Parody]

(Greek paroidía, "a song sung alongside another"), in literature, a form of
satirical criticism or comic mockery that imitates the style and manner of a
particular writer or school of writers so as to emphasize the weakness of
the writer or the overused conventions of the school. Differing from
burlesque by the depth of its technical penetration and from travesty, which
treats dignified subjects in a trivial manner, true parody mercilessly
exposes the tricks of manner and thought of its victim yet cannot be written
without a thorough appreciation of the work that it ridicules.

        -- EB

[thomas on the ditto]

Incongruity, technical ingenuity, the inversion of the normal relationship
between form and content, the conscious walking of a fine line between
structural exactitude and semantic absurdity... I like parodies <grin>.

[More Links]

poem #400
poem #468

Oft-parodied poems:
poem #85
poem #88
poem #90

Poems run specifically for their parodies:
poem #376
poem #378
poem #380

The most ingenious parody I've ever read:


One of the most notorious hoaxes of recent years is Alan Sokal's classic
paper "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics
of Quantum Gravity", which you can read at

Paul Boghossian has an interesting followup thereto:

And finally, I leave you with this

[Bonus Poem]

 I liked the project not one bit.
   I didn't think I had a hope,
 But got it done, and this is it:
   A parody of Wendy Cope!

        -- Kit Wright

23 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

sandi_ordinario said...

Please introduce all of us to Wendy Cope.
Reading her parodies remedies my heartburn
through a deep belly laugh. Thanks.


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