Guest poem sent in by Jeff Berndt
(Poem #732) At the Theatre: To the Lady Behind Me
Dear Madam, you have seen this play; I never saw it till today. You know the details of the plot, But, let me tell you, I do not. The author seeks to keep from me The murderer's identity, And you are not a friend of his If you keep shouting who it is. The actors in their funny way Have several funny things to say, But they do not amuse me more If you have said them just before; The merit of the drama lies, I understand, in some surprise; But the surprise must now be small Since you have just foretold it all. The lady you have brought with you Is, I infer, a half-wit too, But I can understand the piece Without assistance from your niece. In short, foul woman, it would suit Me just as well if you were mute; In fact, to make my meaning plain, I trust you will not speak again. And---may I add one human touch?--- Don't breathe upon my neck so much.
Once upon a time you sent the Deep Sorriness Atonement Song ("They're all sorry, very sorry, but I'm sorrier by far") and commented that poetry _can_ be useful. I first read this poem in ninth grade. We didn't study it. I was bored and was paging ahead in our literature book. I had it half-memorized once upon a time, mostly because it's funny. Then, years later, I became involved in community theater. This poem should be printed on the inside cover of every program handed out to every person who ever goes to a live theater production. My only complaint is that it doesn't mention pagers and cell phones, which did not exist in A P Herbert's time. Info on A.P.Herbert: From Simpson's Contemporary Quotations: A P Herbert, Member of British Parliament QUOTATION: I am sure that the party system is right and necessary. there must be some scum. Wrote a series for Punch! Magazine called 'Misleading Cases' Here's a link: http://www.kmoser.com/herbert/ Also wrote a book called 'The Water Gypsies' Here's his entry in Factmonster.com: Herbert, A. P. (Sir Alan Patrick Herbert), 1890-1971, English author and member of Parliament. He was a regular contributor to the comic magazine Punch from 1910 until his death. Herbert served in Parliament from 1935 until 1950 as a representative for Oxford Univ. and was largely responsible for the bill (1937) liberalizing English divorce law. His numerous books include The House by the River (1921), The Water Gipsies (1930), and The Singing Swan (1968). He was knighted in 1945. - JKB [Martin adds] We've had, over the years, a number of letters from readers, expressing their delight at rediscovering poems whose half-remembered fragments had been haunting them. Well, the cosmic balance has been restored somewhat - today's poem is one I read once, some ten years ago, and have been trying to relocate ever since (helped not at all by the fact that I only remembered the opening four lines). Many thanks to Jeff, with whose comments I agree fully. Links: The aforementioned 'Deep Sorriness Atonement Song' can be found at poem #602 m.