(Poem #607) Ballad of the Canal
We were crowded in the cabin, Not a soul had room to sleep; It was midnight on the waters, And the banks were very steep. 'Tis a fearful thing when sleeping To be startled by the shock, And to hear the rattling trumpet Thunder, "Coming to a lock!" So we shuddered there in silence, For the stoutest berth was shook, While the wooden gates were opened And the mate talked with the cook. And as thus we lay in darkness, Each one wishing we were there, "We are through!" the captain shouted, And he sat upon a chair. And his little daughter whispered, Thinking that he ought to know, "Isn't travelling by canal-boats Just as safe as it is slow?" Then he kissed the little maiden, And with better cheer we spoke, And we trotted into Pittsburg, When the morn looked through the smoke.
Note: A parody of James T. Field's "Ballad of the Tempest" (see links) There are some poems that just cry out for parodies. Now this is not in itself a bad thing - in fact we ran an entire theme on oft-parodied poems, where what made them so was their well-earned distinctiveness. However, there are others which have shot to fame on the basis of a weak sentimentality or blatant sanctimoniousness, and which no right-thinking person should be content to leave unskewered <g>. Well, Field's "Ballad of the Tempest" was just such a poem, and, luckily for posterity, Phoebe Cary was just such a right-thinking person. Today's poem is not all that funny if you read it on its own; in conjunction with the original, I found it hilarious. (My favourite line was the wonderfully deadpan 'and the banks were very steep'). Biography: Here's a joint biography of Cary and her sister Alice [broken link] http://women.eb.com/women/articles/Cary_Alice_and_Phoebe.html Links: Field's original: [broken link] http://www.geocities.com/~spanoudi/poems/fields01.html#1 It is unlikely to appear on Minstrels any time soon. The complete works of Cary online http://www.nt1.nagasaki-gaigo.ac.jp/ishikawa/amlit/c/cary_p19re.htm Cary's most famous poem is probably 'The Leak in the Dike', http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/rp/poems/caryph3.html We've run a number of parodies on Minstrels, and two parody themes - the aforementioned oft-parodied poems poem #85 poem #88 poem #90 and a set of poems run specifically for their parodies: poem #376 poem #378 poem #380 -martin