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From A Letter From Lesbia -- Dorothy Parker

Not all poets admire (or aspire to to be like) Catullus; for a different
point of view, here's a lovely poem suggested by :
(Poem #1467) From A Letter From Lesbia
 ... So, praise the gods, Catullus is away!
 And let me tend you this advice, my dear:
 Take any lover that you will, or may,
 Except a poet. All of them are queer.

 It's just the same -- a quarrel or a kiss
 Is but a tune to play upon his pipe.
 He's always hymning that or wailing this;
 Myself, I much prefer the business type.

 That thing he wrote, the time the sparrow died --
 (Oh, most unpleasant -- gloomy, tedious words!)
 I called it sweet, and made believe I cried;
 The stupid fool! I've always hated birds ...
-- Dorothy Parker
Catullus may have brought about a revolution in Latin verse by
"[rejecting] the epic and its public themes ... [and using] colloquial
language to write about personal experience" [1]. But it's clear that to
some people, at least, he took the process altogether too far. Dorothy
Parker skewers the typical self-absorption of the poet quite brilliantly
-- though in a nice irony, what is her own poem but a declaration of
personal preferences?

thomas.

[1] www.poets.org, quoted at greater length in the commentary to
Catullus' fifth Song, Minstrels Poem #1463.

[Links]

One imagines that Dorothy Parker would have enjoyed reading Wendy Cope's
"Being Boring" (Poem #1444), and indeed, there's something delightfully
Cope-ish about today's poem.

Other Parkers:
Poem #150, Resume
Poem #192, Comment
Poem #486, Epitaph for a Darling Lady
Poem #560, Chant for Dark Hours
Poem #638, Song of Perfect Propriety
Poem #697, A Well Worn Story
Poem #878, Frustration
Poem #1090, Unfortunate Coincidence
Poem #1460, Love Song

Other Copes:
Poem #587, Strugnell's Rubaiyat
Poem #693, Strugnell's Haiku
Poem #859, Waste Land Limericks
Poem #1059, An Unusual Cat-Poem
Poem #1323, Strugnell's Sonnets (VI)

The sparrow referred to by Parker/Lesbia is this one:
http://www.bartleby.com/245/85.html

The Daily Telegraph ran a Catullus translation competition based on the
sparrow poem; here are the winners:
[broken link] http://www.friends-classics.demon.co.uk/poetry.htm

More dead sparrow poems:
http://www.lyrics.net.ua/song/34358
http://eir.library.utoronto.ca/rpo/display/poem1943.html

46 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

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Hi,
Awesome poem posted here..Really very interesting...Nice combination of words,I like the concept of using rhyming words in the poem...

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