Guest poem submitted by Rohit Jaisingh:
(Poem #853) Stew Much
A duck once met a porcupine; they formed a corporation Which called itself a Porcuduck (a beastly conjugation!). A stork to a turtle said, "Let's put my head upon your torso; We who are so pretty now, as Stortle would be more so!" The lizard with the parrot's head thought: taking to the chilli After years of eating worms is absolutely silly. A prancing goat - one wonders why - was driven by a need To bequeath its upper portion to a crawling centipede. The giraffe with grasshopper's limbs reflected: Why should I Go for walks in grassy fields, now that I can fly? The nice contented cow will doubtless get a frightful shock On finding that its lower lombs belong to a fighting cock. It's obvious the Whalephant is not a happy notion: The head goes for the jungle, while the tail turns to the ocean, The lion's lack of horns distressed him greatly, so He teamed up with a deer - now watch his antlers grow!
Translated by Satyajit Ray. The Bengali version is titled "Haans chilo sojaru". Given the level of interest in nonsense verse among the people on the mailing list, I'm surprised that Sukumar Ray has not yet been run. Perhaps it has to do with the paucity of good translations from the original Bengali. The only one in wide circulation that I know of is Sukanta Chaudhuri's. At one level, this poem is wondrous for its vivid imagery. It evokes a delightful and uninhibited response, like the tinkling laughter of a child - spontaneous and devoid of any pollution. At another level, one can draw analogies to the attempts to combine incongruent units into a composite whole. Think of parallels in personal relationships, (and here I run the risk of courting controversy) arranged marriages, the North-South divide, mergers of companies ... Rohit. [More on Sukumar Ray] Sukumar Ray was one of the leading figures in that flowering of Bengali culture that occurred in the early years of the 20th century. Sadly, his work remains little known outside his homeland; recent translations by Sukanta Chaudhuri and Ray's (rather more famous) son Satyajit barely scratch the surface of his wit and invention. [broken link] http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/1555/sukumar/ is a fairly comprehensive Ray site; it includes biographical information, time lines, links, and a generous selection of his work (including the entire text of his masterpiece, "Abol-Tabol"). Two caveats, though: much of the textual material is in the original (Bengali) script, and the HTML of the site itself is rather buggy. Sukanta Chaudhuri's "The Select Nonsense of Sukumar Ray" is available on Amazon. [Minstrels Links] Other poems translated from the Bengali: Poem #177, Where The Mind is Without Fear -- Rabindranath Tagore Poem #367, Krishnakali -- Rabindranath Tagore Poem #673, The Flower-School -- Rabindranath Tagore Poem #446, Banalata Sen -- Jibanananda Das Poem #662, Cat -- Jibanananda Das Other nonsense poems: Poem #91, Cottleston Pie -- A. A. Milne Poem #369, The Cantelope -- Bayard Taylor Poem #99, Nephelidia -- Algernon Charles Swinburne Poem #849, Sir Beelzebub -- Edith Sitwell Poem #165, The Owl and the Pussy-Cat -- Edward Lear Poem #297, The Pobble Who Has No Toes -- Edward Lear Poem #356, The Akond of Swat -- Edward Lear Poem #378, There Was an Old Man with a Beard -- Edward Lear Poem #628, The Dong with a Luminous Nose -- Edward Lear Poem #120, The Purple Cow -- Gelett Burgess Poem #444, Contours -- Noel Coward Poem #161, The Yarn of the Nancy Bell -- W. S. Gilbert Poem #247, To Sit In Solemn Silence -- W. S. Gilbert Poem #505, The Story of Prince Agib -- W. S. Gilbert Poem #52, Jabberwocky -- Lewis Carroll Poem #265, The Mad Gardener's Song -- Lewis Carroll Poem #347, The Walrus and the Carpenter -- Lewis Carroll Poem #600, The Mouse's Tale -- Lewis Carroll