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Shakesperian Readings - 3 -- Phoebe Cary

(Poem #1083) Shakesperian Readings - 3
 My father had a daughter got a man,
 As it might be, perhaps, were I good-looking,
 I should, your lordship.
 And what's her residence?
 A hut my lord, she never owned a house,
 But let her husband, like a graceless scamp,
 Spend all her little means, -- she thought she ought, --
 And in a wretched chamber, on an alley,
 She worked like masons on a monument,
 Earning their bread. Was not this love indeed?
-- Phoebe Cary
Note: A parody of Viola's speech in Twelfth Night, II.iv.107-15

  [Viola]  My father had a daughter lov'd a man
           As it might be perhaps, were I a woman,
           I should your lordship.
  [Orsino] And what's her history?
  [Viola]  A blank, my lord; she never told her love,
           But let concealment like a worm i' th' bud
           Feed on her damask cheek; she pin'd in thought,
           And with a green and yellow melancholy
           She sate like Patience on a monument,
           Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed?


  Cary collected three separate parodies together under the title
  "Shakesperian [sic] Readings"; since they were entirely distinct otherwise
  I decided to run this one as a standalone poem.

Today's skilful little parody is a deceptively gentle commentary on the
difference between Romance and Reality. Cary cleaves very closely indeed to
the Shakespearean original, following the structure, development and even
the sound of Viola's lines, twisting them subtly but deftly. This is a true
parody (as opposed to a pastiche) insofar as it satirises the original at
the same time as it follows its form.

The poem's opening salvo, "as it might be, perhaps, were I good looking",
sets the tone admirably, contrasting at once the pragmatism of Cary's
narrator with Viola's deliberate dissemblings. The rest of the poem develops
the theme, contrasting the unglamorous but oft-encountered case of a poor
woman slaving to support a wastrel husband with the 'romantic' heroine
pining away for a love she will not name. Cary's heroine, we feel, cannot
afford the time for such self-inflicted griefs; her problems are far more
real and concrete. The main impact of the poem, though, lies in its final
line, the one that mirrors precisely Shakespeare's, and invites the reader
to ponder the same question - "Was this not love indeed?". And the
implication is, definitely, that they can't *both* be right.



Another parody that follows the sound of the original closely is Bierce's
"Elegy" (Poem #400)

All three Shakesperian Readings:

And a nascent Collection of parodies on Minstrels:
  [broken link]

151 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

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When I get some information about Shakesperian Readings I feel so excited, I tryed to write similar poems but I do not have talent to do it.

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hahaha sounds like a problem of certain couple or marriage... anyway that's why is not good to get married.

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