Guest poem submittedy by William Grey:
(Poem #1596) I Met a Lady in the Wood
I met a lady in the wood. No mortal maid, I knew, was she; She was no thing of flesh and blood, No child of human ancestry. Her beauty held my eyes in thrall. I spoke to her sweet words, soft-toned. She answered me no word at all, But only looked at me and moaned. I spoke to her about Exchange, Of Sterling and its recent rise. The subject was beyond her range; She stared at me with haunting eyes. I touched upon the price of Rye And its effect upon the Pound. She walked beside me silently, Like one that treads on charméd ground. She witched me with her elfin grace. I spoke of Wages and the Dole And briefly sketched for her the case For International Control. She gazed upon me as I talked; Some elfin thing she seemed to be. I knew her, by the way she walked, A creature of the Faëry. Through green and leafy glades we went, Knee-deep among the dewy ferns; I touched upon the Law of Rent And of Diminishing Returns. And, as we wandered through the wood Mid oaks and elm-tree boles rotund, Explained to her as best I could The workings of a Sinking Fund. I said that Rubber was depressed By recent rumours from Malay. She only moaned and beat her breast And cried aloud, 'Alack-a-day!' I said my brokers had foreseen A rise in Oil, and asked her view As to the trend of Margarine, She only answered 'Willaloo!' I took her to a green-lit glade Where tall trees twined their branches high And a moss-muted streamlet made Unmeditating melody; And there I paused awhile; and there I offered her my heart and hand, And bade her take me in her care To dwell with her in Fairyland. I said I was a Whale-oil King, With gold and goods and gear in plenty. She said she was a Mrs. Byng And had a family of twenty. She turned and left me where I stood. While round her elfin pipes were fluting She walked away into the wood, And I walked home to Lower Tooting.
[Notes] Edward Lear (1812-1888) was an early pioneer of nonsense poetry, a genre developed further by the Rev Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, (alias Lewis Carroll, 1832-1898), and more recently by Spike Milligna (the well-known typing-error, 1918-2002). Barrington (1909-1990) is a golden link in this brilliant chain of absurdists. Like many of Barrington's poems the comic effect is generated by an absurdity of juxtapositions -- perhaps most absurdity comes to that, one way or another. In this masterpiece of inspired nonsense Barrington juxtaposes Arcadian romance with economic and commercial discourse. The denouement -- when the identity of the elfin companion is exploded -- is vintage Barrington. As usual, Barrington's romantic narrative is unconsummated. (Barrington never married.) The poem was published in 'Songs of a Sub-Man' (London: Methuen & Company Limited, 1934). The title of the collection presumably parodies Nietzsche's "ubermensch" ("overman"). Barrington sketches more than one credible untermensch. William Grey.