Thanks for Nothing

Gordon Macdonald was the last British governor of Newfoundland. Despite the island’s fiercely independent nature, he openly campaigned for it to become part of Canada. In 1949 he succeeded, and two days before he returned to England, the Evening Telegram published a congratulatory poem:

The prayers of countless thousands sent
Heavenwards to speed thy safe return,
Ennobled as thou art with duty well performed,
Bringing peace, security and joy
Among the peoples of this New Found Land.
So saddened and depressed until your presence
Taught us discern and help decide what’s best for
All on whom fortune had not smiled.
Remember if you will the kindness and the love
Devotion and the respect that we the people have for Thee

— Farewell!

It was several weeks before the editors noticed it was an acrostic — read the first letter of each line.

R.I.P.

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/455713

“Questions,” an elegy for a departed dog, by William Hurrell Mallock, published in The Dog’s Book of Verse, 1916:

Where are you now, little wandering
Life, that so faithfully dwelt with us,
Played with us, fed with us, felt with us,
Years we grew fonder and fonder in?

You who but yesterday sprang to us,
Are we forever bereft of you?
And is this all that is left of you —
One little grave, and a pang to us?

Fore!

The swinging Brassie strikes; and, having struck,
Moves on: nor all your Wit or future Luck
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Stroke,
Nor from the Card a single Seven pluck.

— From “The Golfer’s Rubaiyat” by H.W. Boynton, collected in The Wit and Humor of America, Volume II, 1907

Limerick

A decrepit old gas man named Peter,
While hunting around for the meter,
Touched a leak with his light.
He arose out of sight,
And, as anyone can see by reading this, he also destroyed the meter.

— Anonymous

Limerick

There once was a miser named Clarence
Who simonized both of his parents;
“The initial expense,”
He remarked, “is immense,
But it saves on the wearance and tearance.”

— Ogden Nash

Ern Malley

I had often, cowled in the slumbrous heavy air,
Closed my inanimate lids to find it real,
As I knew it would be, the colourful spires
And painted roofs, the high snows glimpsed at the back,
All reversed in the quiet reflecting waters –
Not knowing then that Durer perceived it too.
Now I find that once more I have shrunk
To an interloper, robber of dead men’s dream,
I had read in books that art is not easy
But no one warned that the mind repeats
In its ignorance the vision of others. I am still
The black swan of trespass on alien waters.

That’s from “Durer: Innsbruck, 1495,” a poem by Ern Malley. When it was celebrated in the Australian modernist magazine Angry Penguins, its real authors, James McAuley and Harold Stewart, stepped forward. Not only had they written the poem, they said, but they had “deliberately perpetrated bad verse”: “We opened books at random, choosing a word or phrase haphazardly. We made lists of these and wove them in nonsensical sentences. We misquoted and made false allusions.”

The point, they said, was to show that modern critics had become “insensible of absurdity and incapable of ordinary discrimination.”

The critics insisted that they had accidentally created a masterpiece.

Lipogram Pangram

This verse is a combined lipogram and pangram: Each stanza omits the letter e but includes every other letter of the alphabet:

A jovial swain should not complain
Of any buxom fair,
Who mocks his pain and thinks it gain
To quiz his awkward air.

Quixotic boys who look for joys
Quixotic hazards run;
A lass annoys with trivial toys,
Opposing man for fun.

A jovial swain might rack his brain,
And tax his fancy’s might;
To quiz is vain, for ’tis most plain
That what I say is right.

— W.S. Walsh, Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities, 1892