(Poem #1889) A Grievance
After Byron Dear Mr. Editor: I wish to say - If you will not be angry at my, writing it - But I've been used, since childhood's happy day, When I have thought of something, to inditing it; I seldom think of things; and, by the way, Although this meter may not be exciting, it Enables one to be extremely terse, Which is not what one always is in verse. I used to know a man, - such things befall The observant wayfarer through Fate's domain - He was a man, take him for all in all, We shall not look upon his like again; I know that statement's not original; What statement is, since Shakespeare? or, since Cain, What murder? I believe 'twas Shakespeare said it, or Perhaps it may have been your Fighting Editor. Though why an Editor should fight, or why A Fighter should abase himself to edit, Are problems far too difficult and high For me to solve with any sort of credit. Some greatly more accomplished man than I Must tackle them: let's say then Shakespeare said it; And, if he did not, Lewis Morris may (Or even if he did). Some other day, When I have nothing pressing to impart, I should not mind dilating on this matter. I feel its import both in head and heart, And always did, - especially the latter. I could discuss it in the busy mart Or on the lonely housetop; hold! this chatter Diverts me from my purpose. To the point: The time, as Hamlet said, is out of joint, And perhaps I was born to set it right, - A fact I greet with perfect equanimity. I do not put it down to "cursed spite," I don't see any cause for cursing in it. I Have always taken very great delight In such pursuits since first I read divinity. Whoever will may write a nation's songs As long as I'm allowed to right its wrongs. What's Eton but a nursery of wrong-righters, A mighty mother of effective men; A training ground for amateur reciters, A sharpener of the sword as of the pen; A factory of orators and fighters, A forcing-house of genius? Now and then The world at large shrinks back, abashed and beaten, Unable to endure the glare of Eton. I think I said I knew a man: what then? I don't suppose such knowledge is forbid. We nearly all do, more or less, know men, - Or think we do; nor will a man get rid Of that delusion while he wields a pen. But who this man was, what, if aught, he did, Nor why I mentioned him, I do not know, Nor what I "wished to say" a while ago.
Most famous poets have attracted their share of parodies, and Byron was no exception, but seldom have I seen a parody as perfect as today's. The language, the tone, the metre, the sentiments, the construction, are all spot on. Moreover, the mockery is subtle enough that there are very few places one can point to and say "Byron would not have written that", though the cumulative effect is unmistakably parodic. All in all a superbly impressive piece of work, even for as consistently good a parodist as Stephen. martin [Links] Byron's "Don Juan", an excellent example of the style today's poem parodies: [broken link] http://www.sensible.it/personal/resio/donjuan/byron/ Biography: http://www.bartleby.com/223/0615.html More of Stephen's work: http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poet/310.html