Carrying on with the triple rhyme theme...
(Poem #1025) Thais
One time in Alexandria, in wicked Alexandria Where nights were wild with revelry and life was but a game, There lived, so the report is, an adventuress and courtesan The pride of Alexandria, and Thais was her name. Nearby, in peace and piety, avoiding all society There dwelt a band of holy men who'd made their refuge there, And in the desert's solitude, they spurned all earthly folly to Devote their lives to holy works, to fasting and to prayer. Now one monk whom I solely mention of this band of holy men Was known as Athaneal, he was famous near and far. At fasting bouts and prayer, with him, none other could compare with him, At plain and fancy praying he could do the course in par. One day while sleeping heavily, from wresting with the Devil he Had gone to bed exhausted, though the sun was shining still He had a vision Freudian, and though he was annoyed, he an- Alyzed it in the well-known style of Doctors Jung and Brill. He dreamed of Alexandria, of wicked Alexandria. A crowd of men was cheering in a manner rather rude. And Athaneal glancing there at THAIS, who was dancing there Observed her do the shimmy, in what artists call The Nude! Said he,"This dream fantastical disturbs my thoughts monastical, Some unsuppressed desire, I fear, has found my monkish cell. I blushed up to the hat o' me to view that girl's anatomy I'll go to Alexandria and save her soul from Hell!" So, pausing not to wonder where he'd put his winter underwear He quickly packed his evening clothes, a toothbrush and a vest To guard against exposure he threw in some woolen hosiery And bidding all the boys Adieu, he started on his quest. The monk, though warned and fortified was deeply shocked and mortified, To find, on his arrival, wild debauchery in sway. While some were in a stupor, sent by booze of more than two percent, The rest were all behaving in a most immoral way. Said he to Thais, "Pardon me. Although this job is hard on me, I've got to put you straight to what I came out here to tell: What's all this boozin' gettin' you? Cut out this pie-eyed retinue, Let's hit the road together, kid, and save your soul from Hell!" Although this bold admonishment caused Thais some astonishment, She quickly answered,"Say! You said a heaping mouthful, Bo! This burg's a frost, I'm telling you. The brand of hooch they're selling you Ain't like the stuff you used to get, so let's pack up and go!" So off from Alexandria, from wicked Alexandria Across the desert sands they go, beneath the burning sun. Till Thais, parched and sweltering, finds refuge in the sheltering Seclusion of a convent in the habit of a nun. And now the monk is terrified to find his fears are verified His holy vows of chastity have cracked beneath the strain! Like one who has a jag on, he cries out in grief and agony "I'd sell my soul to see her do the shimmy once again!" Alas! His pleadings amorous, though passionate and clamorous Have come too late. The courtesan has danced her final dance. Said he,"Now that's a joke on me, for that there dame to croak on me, I never should have passed her up the time I had a chance!"
(in Opera Guyed, 1923) Note: Baed on the Massenet opera of the same name (see links) Newman Levy is definitely near the top of my list of poets that deserve to be famous but aren't - his verse is seldom short of brilliant, and often hilarious. More to the point, it is extremely *accessible* - lack of familiarity with the original is no drawback to appreciating his sparkling parodies, nor have the eighty or so years since their writing dated them noticeably. 'Thais' is probably Levy's most famous work, having apparently had the dubious honour of being labelled "Traditional" in a few old songbooks. (It's hard to see how that happened, actually - the lyrics certainly don't have a trad flavour to them.) It definitely illustrates all the aforementioned qualities - the verse is smooth and clever, the showiness of the rhymes adding to the enjoyment of the poem. The story is told in a manner that requires no knowledge of Massenet to follow it; indeed, unlike say "The Three Cherry Sisters Karamazov" it doesn't even make explicit reference to the original, choosing to simply retell the story in a somewhat lighter style. And the language certainly doesn't appear out of date or old fashioned (or, rather, any datedness appears deliberately humorous, a happy byproduct of the poem's blatant anachronism).  which contains a pun so awful that it alone would be worth the price of admission <g> And a very pleasing style it is, too - the playful rhymes, the deliberate dissonance between the poem's setting and its slangy dialogue, and the smoothly pattering metre make 'Thais' an excellent example of how to tell a humorous story in verse. As far as patter verse and complicated triple rhymes go, comparisons with Gilbert are inevitable. Despite a few superficial similarities, though, I think Levy's verse has a very different flavour from Gilbert's. The pacing is different, for one - in his more complicated pieces, Gilbert frequently had distinct primary and secondary stresses that made the verse almost paeonic (that is, with four syllables to a foot rather than two); this speeds up their reading even when decoupled from the music. Levy's verse is a lot more pronouncedly duple (though he follows the 'Major General' pattern of triple rhymes superposed on a duple metre), so that it is flowing but not tumbling. Also, Levy occasionally splits a word across lines for the rhyme, a technique that I can't remember Gilbert using, and one which is definitely noticeable when employed. I won't claim that Levy was uninfluenced by Gilbert, but his poetry is definitely not Gilbertesque.  and vice versa, as exemplified respectively by He had a vision Freudian, and though he was annoyed, he an- Alyzed it in the well-known style of Doctors Jung and Brill. and And in the desert's solitude, they spurned all earthly folly to Devote their lives to holy works, to fasting and to prayer. Links: All about Massenet's "Thais": http://www.intac.com/~rfrone/massenet/operas/10Thais/10Thais.htm Several of Levy's poems, and a brief biography, are here: http://www.stolaf.edu/people/hend/songs/NewmanLevy.htm as are Stewart Hendrickson's musical settings to them. A hilarious series of instrumental breaks interspersed with the verses: [broken link] http://shorty.mudcat.org/!!-song99.cfm?stuff=fall99+D+12012143 And a few more Levy poems in the Digital Tradition archive: [broken link] http://shorty.mudcat.org/!!-supersearch99.cfm?Command=Search&file=fall99&request=newman+levy&MaxHits=50&NumLines=1 Another poet in much the same vein is Guy Wetmore Carryl; see, for example, the (triple rhymed, to boot) Poem #94, The Embarrassing Episode of Little Miss Muffet Randall Garrett was influenced by Levy to write a series of very Levyesque verse synopses of science fiction novels; these are currently being reprinted in the filk magazine Xenofilkia: http://thestarport.org/xeno/ix.auth.html#G (main page: http://thestarport.org/xeno/xeno.html) And the theme to date: Poem #1023, The Soldiers of our Queen -martin