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The Cantelope -- Bayard Taylor

Back after a much-needed vacataion - thanks to Thomas for doing a daily poem
in my absence.
(Poem #369) The Cantelope
  Side by side in the crowded streets,
    Amid its ebb and flow,
  We walked together one autumn morn;
    ('Twas many years ago!)

  The markets blushed with fruits and flowers;
    (Both Memory and Hope!)
  You stopped and bought me at the stall,
    A spicy cantelope.

  We drained together its honeyed wine,
    We cast the seeds away;
  I slipped and fell on the moony rinds,
    And you took me home in a dray!

  The honeyed wine of your love is drained;
    I limp from the fall I had;
  The snow-flakes muffle the empty stall,
    And everything is sad.

  The sky is an inkstand, upside down,
    It splashes the world with gloom;
  The earth is full of skeleton bones,
    And the sea is a wobbling tomb!
-- Bayard Taylor
Another recent discovery of mine[1], Taylor has written a number of parodies
and other humorous poems. While I've been somewhat reluctant to run
lesser-known parodies of well-known poems[2], I think 'Cantelope' is a nice
poem in its own right - a very effective combination of 'poetic' language,
bathos and just plain absurdity that made me laugh. Of course, it helps that
- while I have the vague feeling this is a parody - I have not the slightest
idea what the original is.

[1] in case I haven't mentioned it before, I cannot recommend the Poets'
Corner too highly. [broken link]
[2] mostly because i feel that even if they're good, it's just because the
original was (although see next week's theme).


  cantelope: a small, round, ribbed variety of musk-melon, of a very
  delicate flavour [OED]. the modern spelling is cantaloupe

  dray: a small cart


  Taylor, Bayard
  b. Jan. 11, 1825, Kennett Square, Pa., U.S.
  d. Dec. 19, 1878, Berlin, Ger.
  in full JAMES BAYARD TAYLOR, American author known primarily for his
  lively travel narratives and for his translation of J.W. von Goethe's

  A restless student, Taylor was apprenticed to a printer at age 17. In 1844
  his first volume of verse, Ximena, was published. He then arranged with
  The Saturday Evening Post and the United States Gazette to finance a trip
  abroad in return for publication rights to his travel letters, which were
  compiled in the extremely popular Views Afoot (1846). In 1847 he began a
  career in journalism in New York. Eldorado (1850) recounted his trials as
  a newspaper correspondent in the 1849 California gold rush. He continued
  his trips to remote parts of the world--to the Orient, to Africa, to
  Russia--and became renowned as something of a modern Marco Polo. In 1862
  he became secretary of the U.S. legation at St. Petersburg, Russia. Of his
  works in this later period, the translation of Faust (1870-71) remains his
  best known. His Poems of the Orient appeared in 1855.


  The poem's slightly surreal imagery reminds me of Carroll's 'The Walrus
  and the Carpenter', poem #347

  Another poem that relies both on bathos and exaggeratedly poetic language
  (both very popular techniques) is Claverley's 'Forever', poem #255


16 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Cousins Donald said...

My message relates not to Taylor's poetry, but rather to a possible statue,
which may or not be within your sphere of knowledge. Do you know whether
there is a statue of Taylor in Berlin? A member of the Kennett Square
Historical Society (PA) recalls seeing such a statue in Berlin, "outside the
cathedral beyond Brandenburgertor." She was in Berlin in the mid-90s, so any
such statue would have survived the war and the occupation years.

Any knowledge you have would be helpful to me. Thanks for any

Don Cousins

WorkshopGroup said...

I saw your posted query re Taylor - a statue in Berlin -

I am interested to learn if there is one (mainly I am looking for his
papers related to Japan; my own school, Cornell, has some material but
apparently not these.

Aaron M Cohen
New Paltz NY

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