fragmentae mymae: translations and other things

Martial: Epigrams. Book III: 19

I’ve been reading and translating the great Roman poet Martial all day for some reason,
and I thought I'd do this in the style of The Lion and Albert,
as famously performed by Stanley Holloway ... First, the original:

proxima centenis ostenditur ursa columnis,
exornant fictae qua platanona ferae.
huius dum patulos alludens temptat hiatus
pulcher Hylas, teneram mersit in ora manum;
uipera sed caeco scelerata latebat in aere
uiuebatque anima deteriore fera.
non sensit puer esse dolos, nisi dente recepto
dum perit. o facinus, falsa quod ursa fuit!

Here's the fairly literal 1919 Loeb translation

NEXT to the Hundred Columns, where wild beasts in effigy adorn the plane-grove,
is shown a bear. While fair Hylas was in play challenging its yawning mouth
he plunged into its throat his youthful hand. But an accursed viper lay hid
in the dark cavern of the bronze, alive with a life more deadly than that
of the beast itself. The boy perceived not the guile but when he felt the
fang and died. Oh, what a crime was this, that unreal was the bear.

And here is mine... naturally it should be read (or heard) in a northern english accent.

The Lamentable Tale of Hylas and the Bear

The place in Rome called ‘Undred Columns,
Has statues of beasts on display,
And under the shade of the plane trees
Is where pretty young Hylas would play.

Now one of the statues I mentioned
Is a great big open-mouthed bear
That Hylas would oft stick his hand in,
To show that he hadn’t no fear.

Alas! On this day of ill-omen
Young Hylas was quite unaware
That an evil and poisonous snake
Was hiding inside the bronze bear!

Now heed to my moral you children:
True danger was hidden inside.
That bear was not real, but the snake was.
It bit ‘im - and poor Hylas died!

Martial: Epigrams. Book III: 49

Veientana mihi misces, ubi Massica potas:
olfacere haec malo pocula quam bibere.

You pour me Blue Nun, while you drink Brunello wine.
I’d rather smell your glass, than take a sip from mine.

Martial: Epigrams. Book III: 98

Sit culus tibi quam macer, requiris?
Pedicare potes, Sabelle, culo.

You want to know how bony your arse is?
So bony, Sabellus, you could bone someone with it.

Martial: Epigrams. Book III: 71

mentula cum doleat puero, tibi, Naeuole, culus,
non sum diuinus, sed scio quid facias.

He has a sore cock, you have a sore arse.
I'm no psychic, but I can also put these two things together.

Martial: Epigrams. Book II: 89

Quod nimio gaudes noctem producere uino
ignosco: uitium, Gaure, Catonis habes.
Carmina quod scribis Musis et Apolline nullo
laudari debes: hoc Ciceronis habes.
Quod uomis, Antoni: quod luxuriaris, Apici.
Quod fellas, uitium dic mihi cuius habes?

When you spend long nights on the piss
- well, that was Cato’s vice.
When you write poems the Muses wouldn’t wipe their arses with
- well, Cicero was just as bad.
When you throw up
- you’re just like Mark Antony!
When you overdo it
- just like Apicius!
When you suck cock
- well, that’s just you.


A quick squib sonnet for National Poetry Day, using the first two lines of Herbert's 'The Sonne'.
Not brilliant, but on NP Day I try and write something off the cuff, with no revision.

Let forrain nations of their language boast,
What fine varietie each tongue affords:
Thus Frenchmen give long, elegant toasts,
Words, verbs and sentences that cut like swords
And Germans, famous for being blunt,
Are not immune to laying down false tracks
To mislead senses and confuse the hunt
With multi-parted, compound terms that tax.
Or sharp Italians, some rippling phrase,
Butter-thick with adjectives, that only seeks -
Full of sidelong meaning and sly obliques -
To curse the hearer that it seems to praise.
The Englishman's direct, and says it true:
He'll call his spade a spade - then bury you.

Catullus: Carmen 97

NON (ita me di ament) quicquam referre putaui,
utrumne os an culum olfacerem Aemilio.
nilo mundius hoc, nihiloque immundius illud,
uerum etiam culus mundior et melior:
nam sine dentibus est. hic dentis sesquipedalis,
gingiuas uero ploxeni habet ueteris,
praeterea rictum qualem diffissus in aestu
meientis mulae cunnus habere solet.
hic futuit multas et se facit esse uenustum,
et non pistrino traditur atque asino?
quem siqua attingit, non illam posse putemus
aegroti culum lingere carnificis?

Let me tell you, it's hard to choose which is worse:
(Smellwise) Aemilius' arse or Aemilius' mouth.
Thinking about it, I prefer the arse -
Because it's safer, it has no teeth.
Unlike his mouth. Oh, his mouth...
Teeth as long as a very long word, stick out of gums
like the frame of a rotten cart.
And all of it sagging open, like the gaping cunt
Of a mule, pissing in summer. And yet,
You should see how many women he gets to shag!
He's a real charmer, despite being fit for the knacker's yard.
Honestly, some women would suck the arse of a hangman
With diarrhoea.

Martial: Epigrams. Book IV: 87

Infantem secum semper tua Bassa, Fabulle,
collocat et lusus deliciasque vocat,
et, quo mireris magis, infantria non est.
ergo quid in causa est? pedere Bassa solet.

Fabullus' wife Bassa frequently totes
A friend's baby, on which she loudly dotes.
Why does she take on this childcare duty?
It explains farts that are somewhat fruity.

Martial: Epigrams. Book VI: 36

Mentula tam magna est, tantus tibi, Papyle, nasus
ut possis, quotiens arrigis, olfacere.

With your giant nose and cock
I bet you can with ease
When you get excited
sniff the end for cheese.


Catullus: Carmen XXXXI

Ameana puella defututa
tota milia me decem poposcit,
ista turpiculo puella naso,
decoctoris amica Formiani.
Propinqui, quibus est puella curae,
amicos medicosque convocate:
non est sana puella, nec rogare
qualis sit solet aes imaginosum.

That slackgash whore Ameana,
Wants ten thousand from me.
Yes! Her! The turdnosed 'friend'
Of that book-cooker from Formiae!
Those who give a toss about her
Should get her to a quack, quick.
She's mad. Ten thousand?
She should look in the mirror...

Nicarchus (Greek Anthology : 11.241)

Τὸ στόμα χὠ πρωκτὸς, Θεόδωρε, σοῦ ὄζει,
ὥστε διαγνῶναι τοῖς φυσικοῖς καλὸν ἦν.
ἦ γράψαι σε ἔδει ποῖον στόμα, ποῖον ὁ πρωκτός,
νῦν δὲ λαλοῦντος σου βδεῖν σ᾽ ἐνόμιζον ἐγώ.

Matthew's mouth smells like an arse,
To scientist's great confusion.
Without a label none can parse
The source of his effusions.
When he speaks of love, or art -
All his listeners think he farts.

The Priapeia

Most of the Priapeia are latin verses written on walls near
a statue of Priapus - traditional guardian of orchards
and gardens. The way he defends things under his
protection should be obvious from the verses

Priapeia: Epigram 2

Obscure poteram tibi dicere: 'da mihi, quod tu
des licet assidue, nil tamen inde perit.
da mihi, quod cupies frustra dare forsitan olim,
cum tenet obsessas invida barba genas,
quodque Iovi dederat, qui raptus ab alite sacra
miscet amatori pocula grata suo,
quod virgo prima cupido dat nocte marito,
dum timet alterius vulnus inepta loci.'
simplicius multo est 'da pedicare' Latine
dicere: quid faciam? crassa Minerva mea est.

Of course, I could be posh
And whisper in the dark
" Darling, give me something,
You would if you really loved me.
Something I won't want when you're older,
When you're all stubbly and old.
Give me what Ganymede gives to Jove,
That capacious cup always on offer.
Give me what the bridegroom got when he
Unexpectedly, went to the wrong reception..."

But me, I call a spade a spade, so:

"I want your arse! NOW!"

Well, how else can I put it?
I'm no poet...

Priapeia: Epigram 4

Quam puero legem fertur dixisse Priapus,
versibus hic infra scripta duobus erit:
'quod meus hortus habet, sumas impune licebit,
si dederis nobis, quod tuus hortus habet'.

These two lines, that are under seen
Are the god's agreement with a teen:
Everything's yours that you see here,
As long as I get to use your rear.

Priapeia: Epigram 12

Fulmina sub Iove sunt, Neptuni fuscina telum,
ense potens Mars est, hasta, Minerva, tua est,
sutilibus Liber committit proelia thyrsis,
fertur Apollinea missa sagitta manu,
Herculis armata est invicta dextera clava:
at me terribilem mentula tenta facit.

(to be read in a Northern Accent)

Jove warns with the lightning flashes,
Neptune's trident induces much fear,
Mars has a war-sword that he clashes,
Whilst Minerva, she carries a spear.
Bright Apollo? He shoots with a bow,
And Bacchus lays about with a stick,
Hercules' club lays everyone low,
But none scare like my gigantic prick

Priapeia: Epigram 27

Tu, qui non bene cogitas et aegre
carpendo tibi temperas ab horto,
pedicabere fascino pedali.
quod si tam gravis et molesta poena
non profecerit, altiora tangam.

Don't even think about it
You evil thief.
Let alone do it.
This is my garden, and you,
You'll get a foot long cock up your arse.
And if that doesn't work,
I'll do the other end too.

Priapeia: Epigram 31

Donec proterva nil mei manu carpes,
licebit ipsa sis pudicior Vesta.
sin, haec mei te ventris arma laxabunt,
exire ut ipse de tuo queas culo.

Keep your hands to yourself
And you'll out-virgin Vesta.
If not, I'll give you such a seeing-to
That your insides will fall out of your arse.

Priapeia: Epigram 49

Tu, quicumque vides circa tectoria nostra
non nimium casti carmina plena ioci,
versibus obscenis offendi desine: non est
mentula subducti nostra supercilii.

When you look round my walls
And see these rude poems
Don't be offended.
After all, my cock's not shocked.

Martial: Epigrams. Book XI: 21

Lydia tam laxa est equitis quam culus aeni,
quam celer arguto qui sonat aere trochus,
quam rota transmisso totiens inpacta petauro,
quam vetus a crassa calceus udus aqua,
quam quae rara vagos expectant retia turdos,
quam Pompeiano vela negata noto*,
quam quae de pthisico lapsa est armilla cinaedo,
culcita Leuconico quam viduata suo,
quam veteres bracae Brittonis pauperis, et quam
urpe Ravennatis guttur onocrotali.
Hanc in piscina dicor futuisse marina.
Nescio; piscinam me futuisse puto.

That banker Harvey's rearmost parts surpass
Even a rag and bone man's horse's arse;
Wide as a sixties schoolgirl's hula-hoop;
Vast as the ring the circus horsemen stoop
To leap through neatly, touching not the side,
As round and round the big-top course they ride;
Capacious as some old and well-worn shoe,
That's trudged through mud for years, no longer new;
Stretched, like a net to catch and snare some prey;
Flapping, a bin bag on a motorway;
Loose as a bracelet that fell off the wrist
Of some tuberculotic onanist;
Shapeless as a futon, minus filling;
Sagging like an old tramp's piss-soaked clothing;
Relaxed, and hanging, like the skinny coat
Of some Norfolk Turkey's foul, flabby throat.
I fucked him once in a sauna. Don't laugh,
But I'm not sure I could tell arse from bath.

(* 'as the awnings denied to the wind at Pompey's Theater' - the bin-bag
is a suitable replacement I think)

Catullus: Carmen 39

Egnatius, quod candidos habet dentes,
renidet usque quaque. Si ad rei ventum est
subsellium, cum orator excitat fletum,
renidet ille; si ad pii rogum fili
lugetur, orba cum flet unicum mater,
renidet ille. Quidquid est, ubicumque est,
quodcumque agit, renidet: hunc habet morbum,
neque elegantem, ut arbitror, neque urbanum.
Quare monendum est te mihi, bone Egnati.
Si urbanus esses aut Sabinus aut Tiburs
aut pinguis Vmber aut obesus Etruscus
aut Lanuvinus ater atque dentatus
aut Transpadanus, ut meos quoque attingam,
aut quilubet, qui puriter lavit dentes,
tamen renidere usque quaque te nollem:
nam risu inepto res ineptior nulla est.
Nunc Celtiber es: Celtiberia in terra,
quod quisque minxit, hoc sibi solet mane
dentem atque russam defricare gingivam,
ut quo iste vester expolitior dens est,
hoc te amplius bibisse praedicet loti.

Because he has bright white teeth,
Ignacio smiles, a lot.

In court, when a defendant pleads so piteously
From the dock that the whole place sobs,
Ignacio grins.

At a funeral, amidst the weeping for a good man dead,
standing next to the mother wailing for her only son,
Ignacio grins.

On every occasion,
In every place,
Whatever he does,
Ignacio grins.

It's as though he's ill.
Some boorish, inelegant,
Social disease infects him.

A word to the wise, my dear Ignacio:

You are a Spaniard.

Even if you were a Londoner, or an Essex boy,
A Welshman, a tightwad Scot, a fat Brummie,
A Mancunian Spade with a mouth full of bling,
Even a Shropshire lad (like myself) in fact
Anyone in the wide world with clean sparkling teeth.
I wouldn't want you to grin all the time.
Because nothing is stupider than a stupid grin.

Unless you are a Spaniard.

Because in Spain, as everyone knows,
Men wake, relieve themselves, then scrub their teeth
And gums red-raw with the yellow.

So the more blinding that ubiquitous smile
The more piss we know you drank today.

Martial: Epigrams. Book XII: 61

Versus et breve vividumque carmen
In te ne faciam, times, Ligurra,
Et dignus cupis hoc metu videri.
Sed frustra metuis cupisque frustra.
In tauros Libyci ruunt leones,
Non sunt papilionibus molesti.
Quaeras, censeo, si legi laboras,
Nigri fornicis ebrium poetam,
Qui carbone rudi putrique creta
Scribit carmina, quae legunt cacantes.
Frons haec stigmate non meo notanda est.

Ah Ligurra, you’re quite afraid that I might write
About you. Some nasty, pithy, diamond-shard of spite
As is my wont. In fact, you quite like the idea.
Well, don’t get your hopes up I’ll gratify that fear.

I may be beastly but I claw with discretion,
No stepping on insects, flattered to be flattened.

I’ll give you a tip though, if that’s what you’re after,
Go and hang around Soho, find some pissed up poet
Who, for a half of lager, and in felt-tip pen,
Will write something suitable on a toilet wall.

So people having a shit can read all about
Ligurra, who won’t get a single word from me.
Not even “CUNT”, in capitals, on his forehead.

Autumn Publication

National Poetry Day, October the 6th 2004 - I usually try and write something for National Poetry Day and to try and write straight off (at work) with no revisions. This one takes it's first line from John Clare's poem 'Autumn'.

A poem to be written on a piece of paper, torn into twenty pieces and thrown from a high place.

I love the year's decline, and love to see
Trees print on air their testament of leaves,
A book the wind has read and thrown away
Page by page to cool, sharp, mist-smelling air
That almost, but not quite, presages snow.

If I could catch them all out of the sky,
And lay them out until it seemed to me
That I could read the language written there,
I think I'd find that kind of text that gives
A due proportion to the fear of death:

"We died, but yet we will be back again.
We are the skin that spring and summer shed,
And fallen to earth we only return home.
Come, tread on us, that lived above your head -
Then raise your eyes to see the tree still lives."

Now is the year's decline, and all around
The woodland presses print their old-new tale.
This year, like them, I too throw up my arms,
And to the wide world, on this wind, I send
These words of my renewed, renewing love

The Battle of Maldon

A quick attempt to make someone laugh by doing the famous anglo-saxon poem in the style of Albert and the Lion.

Byrhtnoð maþelode, bord hafenode,
wand wacne æsc, wordum mælde,
yrre and anræd ageaf him andsware:
'Gehyrst þu, sælida, hwæt þis folc segeð?


There's a famous seaside place called Maldon,
That's noted for rough danes and churls,
And Mr and Mrs Byrhtelm
Went there with young Byrhtnoth, their Earl.

A grand little lad was young Byrhtnoth,
All dressed in his best; quite a swell
With a sword with an dragon's 'ead 'hilt,
The finest that Wayland could sell.

They didn't think much of the danish:
Their ships, they were fiddlin' and small,
There was no wrecks and nobody drownded,
Fact, nothing to laugh at at all.

So, seeking for further amusement,
They lined up abreast on the shore,
Where they'd swordsmen and berserks and 'orses,
And drank ale from big horns by the score.

There were one great big saxon called Wulfstan;
His shield were all painted with hands -
He stood in a violent posture,
And waved his big spear on the sands.



A Triadic

I usually try and write something for National Poetry Day. This year's theme was 'Britain'. Here's a 9/6/3 vaguely triadic/celtic poem. Not my best, but I like to try and write straight off (at work) with no revisions on this day.

Son of Saint Henwg, name me three flatnesses
That may be swept clean by the sea.

This is a mortar board
On which the trowel of time
Has scraped and mixed
The lime, the mud and sand
To build the roman road
The castle tower
The wattle hut
The brick-made house
The concrete mall.

This is an artist's palette
On which the native shades
Of forest green and ochre earth
Are blended, by the brush of man,
With less organic colours
To show a likeness back to him.

This is an old stone;
Lichen-spots like cities,
Leaning from an oily pond.

All and none of these is Britain,
That shall be be swept clean by the sea.

(The 'son of Saint Henwg' is Taliesin, the great and semi-mythic welsh bard)



Love can be Southern -
The wild leaps of the men 
from the slope of the Lupercal
Into the city. The run
Down bright streets,
Whipping the crowd into a frenzy.
Whipping the crowd.

But our love is Northern.
Returning sunlight, slowly growing
In the wood, on the tree,
In these words.
'For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day'
As the poet said,
'Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate'

A Valentine's Day poem. At the roman festival of the Lupercalia the priestly college of the Luperci met in the Lupercal cave on the Palatine Hill - where Romulus and Remus were raised by the she-wolf. There they sacrificed goats and a dog. Smeared in the blood, and clothed only in loincloths made from the skins of the sacrifices, the Luperci ran through Rome, striking passers-by with februa - thongs made from skins of the sacrificed goats - this bestowed luck and fertility. February was also sacred to Juno Februata, the goddess of the fever of love (hence our word febrile). February derives from februa. The 'poet' is Chaucer, and the quote from The Parliament of Fowles.


Beowulf - lines 210-216

Because someone recently discovered a 'new' translation of Beowulf by JRR Tolkien there was some discussion on cix about the matter and I posted two excerpts of the same passage - one from Seamus Heaney's much admired version, and one JRRT's:

Time went by, the boat was on water, 
in close under the cliffs. Men climbed eagerly up the gangplank,
sand churned in surf, warriors loaded a cargo of weapons, 
shining war-gear in the vessel's hold, then heaved out, 
away with a will in their wood-wreathed ship.

On went the hours: on ocean afloat under cliff was their craft. 
Now climb blithely brave man aboard; 
breakers pounding ground the shingle. 
Gleaming harness they hove to the bosom of the bark, 
armour with cunning forged then cast her forth 
to voyage triumphant, valiant-timbered fleet foam twisted.

Dr Paul Bibire then posted comments on these and a literal translation of the original as follows:

A while went forth; floater was on waves, boat under 
[projecting] rock. Ready warriors stepped up on to the prow, 
currents twisted, sound against sand; men [very heroic word] 
bore on to the ship's bosom bright adornments, ready 
battle-cunning [= armour made with cunning skill]; men [lofty 
word] thrust out, men [less lofty word] on a willing journey, the 
bound wood [ship-timbers tied not nailed to the strakes].

well, thinks I, as I have a haggis simmering downstairs which is ready in 30 minutes, I'll have a quick stab myself.

Time flowed: on rippling water rode the headland-hid ship.

No, that's no good, I can't do it in that style, seriously... 
Ah. I know, what if an Augustan poet had had a go?...

A Fragment of Mr Pope's lost translation of the Ancient English Poem of BEOWOLFE lately discovered lining a pie-tin in the kitchen of Dr Bibire of Crail.

Time flowed - and on the rippling road
Below the cliff a ship's bestowed
Where swiftly to the dragon'd prow
The warriors make, all eager now
For war.
Now every wave that lands 
The rising tide upon the strand
Speaks haste. So to the rolling raft
Are taken arms, of cunning craft,
'til shiny death fills up the hold.
This done, these lords across the cold
And heavy sea set forth in heat.
Thus heart's fire drives the tree-born fleet.

Martial, Epigrams, Book XI, 66

Et delator es et calumniator,
et fraudator es et negotiator,
et fellator es et lanista. Miror
quare non habeas, Vacerra, nummos. 

The Corporate Conundrum

X is a sneak 
and a liar,
And a fraud,
and a pimp,
And an arselicker who coaches others, and....
...I really can't work out why he isn't a Director yet.

Martial, Epigrams, Book X, 90

Quid vellis vetulum, Ligeia, cunnum?
Quid busti cineres tui lacessis?
Tales munditiae decent puellas
--Nam tu iam nec anus potes videri--;
Istud, crede mihi, Ligeia, belle
Non mater facit Hectoris, sed uxor.
Erras, si tibi cunnus hic videtur,
Ad quem mentula pertinere desit.
Quare si pudor est, Ligeia, noli
Barbam vellere mortuo leoni.

Lines on the preparations for the 4th Wedding Night of Ms Liza Minelli

You're old, your love-life's been cremated,
And your cunt's so dry you must have stowed
The ashes in it. So why, Liza,
Do you bother plucking the gray hairs
From around it? The sort of finesse
You expect of sophisticated
Young women - not some old sack-arsed hag.
The sort of thing, believe me, that's nice
In a wife but not a mother-in-law.
If you think that any cock could rise
To the bait your flapping labia shroud
You're seriously mistaken. That mangy
Lioness is dead, leave its beard alone!


after Horace, Book I Ode XXV

Parcius iunctas quatiunt fenestras
Ictibus crebris iuvenes protervi,
Nec tibi somnos adimunt, amatque
Ianua limen,

Quae prius multuria facilis movebat
Cardines. Audis minus et minus iam:
'Me tuo longas pereunte noctes,
Lydia, dormis?'

Invicem moechos anus arrogantis
Flebis in solo levis angiportu,
Thracio bacchante magis sub
interlunia vento,

Cum tibi flagrans amor et libido,
Quae solet matres furiare equorum,
Saeviet circa iecur ulcerosum,
Non sine questu,

Laeta quod pubes hedera virenti
Gaudeat pulla magis atque myrto,
Aridas frondes hiemis sodali
Dedicet Euro.

Do you sleep better now, Lydia?
Now those young men no longer throw stones
At your shutters at night?
Now you no longer open your door so easily
To let them in?
Now you've noted a falling off
In the calling up from the street?
Those urgent whispers, 'Lydia, I want you! 
Lydia! How can you sleep?'

It will be you, out there, one day. Soon.
You, in the barren alleyway they now shun.
You, standing in wind-whipped, waning moonlight
Feeling the fury inside you, a nag on heat, 
Your emptiness eating itself, your guts twisted
By the fact you are not wanted.

Those young men want summer, 
Green ivy to hold them hard,
Not withered fallen dryness. 
Not autumn.
They don't want to see it.
They're glad when the winter wind takes it.
They pray for that wind
And it never fails them.

Two Chesterton Parodies

GK Chesterton wrote a tiresome load of tosh about Don John 
of Austria which radio 4 broadcast twice recently - this 
prompted an argument as to it's merits amongst some friends
and someone posted a chunk of it, viz:

King Philip's in his closet with the Fleece about his neck
(Don John of Austria is armed upon the deck)
The walls are hung with velvet that is black and soft as sin,
And little dwarfs creep out of it and little dwarfs creep in.
He holds a crystal phial that has colours like the moon,
He touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very soon,
And his face is as a fungus of a leprous white and grey
Like plants in the high houses that are shuttered from the day,
And death is in the phial, and the end of noble work,
But Don John of Austria has fired on the Turk.
Don John's hunting, and his hounds have bayed -
Booms away past Italy the rumour of his raid.

I retaliated off the cuff...

hmmm, 9*14 syllables then 3*13....

let's see...

GK, who's in his closet with a grudge against the past,
Decides to squat and make a verse, to put things right at last.

hmm, not quite right... try again...

GK, who's in high dudgeon with the way that history went,
Decides to squat and make a verse, to throw us off the scent,
So in a late-victorian style (long past its sell by date)
He flings about such abstract nouns as 'Honour', 'Truth' and 'Fate'.
And on they come, and still they come, a-battering the ear,
Such endless floods of verbiage, poetic diarrhoea!
Oh hear it flood the airwaves, as it swills up off the page,
With metaphor and simile in fecal-vocal rage,
Hurled backwards down the ages to besmirch the King of Spain -
So Pale, Wan and Leprous - for not taking to the main
Like manly, handsome, butch Don John with his salty crew...
I rather think old GKC fancied him. Don't you?


Hypocrite, or the Threat of Knowledge: An Ode

apologies to Chesterton's 'Antichrist' (see below), especially for 
trimming it to two verses...

'We know attempts are being made to re-define the family to include
same sex relationships and that the ultimate aim is to have these
arrangements recognised by law. This alarms all families in 
Scotland' -- Cardinal Thomas Winning, on the Repeal of Section 28.

Are they backing to the wall,
Thomas Winning,
In their tasteful tartan trews,
Are they, Winning?
Do they, clenching, squeezing, wincing,
Wait the news from out Auld Reekie?
Groaning 'That's the Second Reading!'
Hissing 'There is still Committee!'
If the voice of Souter falters,
If the tories fail in spinning,
Do they tremble for their bottoms?
Do they, Winning?

It would greatly, I must own,
Soothe me, Winning!
If you left this theme alone,
Holy Winning!
For you really should be seeking
Nearer home for real evils
At your own kitchen peeking
For that's where there are devils
Talk about the child abusers
In their parish houses sinning!
Not the private lives of others.
Fuck you, Winning.

Antichrist, or the Reunion of Christendom: An Ode
G K Chesterton

'A Bill which has shocked the conscience of every Christian community
in Europe.' -- Mr. F. E. Smith, on the Welsh Disestablishment Bill.

Are they clinging to their crosses,
F. E. Smith,
Where the Breton boat-fleet tosses,
Are they, Smith?
Do they, fasting, trembling, bleeding,
Wait the news from this our city?
Groaning 'That's the Second Reading!'
Hissing 'There is still Committee!'
If the voice of Cecil falters,
If McKenna's point has pith,
Do they tremble for their altars?
Do they, Smith?

Russian peasants round their pope
Huddled, Smith,
Hear about it all, I hope,
Don't they, Smith?
In the mountain hamlets clothing
Peaks beyond Caucasian pales,
Where Establishment means nothing
And they never heard of Wales,
Do they read it all in Hansard --
With a crib to read it with --
'Welsh Tithes: Dr. Clifford answered.'
Really, Smith?

In the lands where Christians were,
F. E. Smith,
In the little lands laid bare,
Smith, O Smith!
Where the Turkish bands are busy
And the Tory name is blessed
Since they hailed the Cross of Dizzy
On the banners from the West!
Men don't think it half so hard if
Islam burns their kin and kith,
Since a curate lives in Cardiff
Saved by Smith.

It would greatly, I must own,
Soothe me, Smith!
If you left this theme alone,
Holy Smith!
For your legal cause or civil
You fight well and get your fee;
For your God or dream or devil
You will answer, not to me.
Talk about the pews and steeples
And the cash that goes therewith!
But the souls of Christian peoples...
Chuck it, Smith!


Palladas (c. 360-430 AD)

an attempt at a para-translation of his oft cited Poem:

Pasa gyne cholos estin: echei d'agathas du(o) horas,
ten mian en thalamo, ten mian en thanato!

Unripe irritants.
When they Spring into the bedroom,
Or Fall into the grave,
Then they are in season...

rather unpleasant sentiments and certainly not mine (how could they be?) but someone on the web was asking for new renderings.


Catullus - Carmen XVI

There was a competition on the web to translate this into rhyming couplets, well I can never resist that sort of challenge... here is the original:

Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo,
Aureli pathice et cinaede Furi,
qui me ex versiculis meis putastis,
quod sunt molliculi, parum pudicum.
nam castum esse decet pium poetam
ipsum, versiculos nihil necesse est;
qui tum denique habent salem ac leporem,
si sunt molliculi ac parum pudici,
et quod pruriat incitare possunt non dico pueris,
sed his pilosis qui duros nequeunt movere lumbos.
vos, quod milia multa basiorum
legistis, male me marem putatis?
pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo

here is a lunch hour effort... more an approximation than a genuine translation I'm afraid (particularly the assumption that Furius and Aurelius are father and son)...

Rough bondage and some sexual pain
Shall be your fate you wicked twain
For thinking poets are as crude
As you - because their work is lewd.
For though in words I talk that talk
It is no sign I walk that walk.
A poet writes to cause effect
And need not those same things affect
Which he displays in careful verse,
Using the best to say the worst.
So, if I write of things you've done -
Nasty father and horrid son -
Just don't assume I did them too,
Not everyone's as loose as you!
No, shut your mouths and make no sound
For, if I hear it spread around
'Catullus likes a bit of bum',
I'll tie you up and make you come!

Although this works OK, it wasn't quite 'Catullan' enough for my liking (Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo, for instance, means I will put my penis in your mouth and then bugger you) so I had another go an hour or so later...

Well fuck you Furius, you nasty queen. 
My work is - and so I must be - obscene? 
You and 'friend' Aurelius have dared deduce 
My habits lewd, my morals less than spruce, 
By reading into what I write some vice 
That flatters you - to make a less than nice 
Distinction 'twixt the poet and his verse - 
Proclaim me pervert through the town, and worse. 
What fools you are - and I don't write for fools,
Real, hairy men, whose balls and heavy tools 
Are stirred to action by lascivious words, 
Are my aim. So, go blunt the ends of turds! 
But spare me this critique that so misses
It's mark - that cannot see 'love' and 'kisses' 
Writ without suspecting that Catullus 
Just like you, cannot control his phallus. 
Or, just to show that I'm not like you queers, 
I'll tie you both up - and then fuck your rears! 

Much better - it won the contest too ;)
London 11 January 2000


Mayoral Matters...

22/11/99 - Jeffrey Archer - discovered to have lied once too often - has lost the tory nomination for Mayor of London, even though the party leader, William Hague, described him as a 'candidate of integrity and probity'... Once again Gilbert and Sullivan sprang to mind (see 'I am the very Model of an Urban Homosexual' below) - I was too tired to polish this up to a properly finished state...

here it is anyway...

[The CANDIDATE has entered unnoticed, in ermine, carrying a Brown 

CANDIDATE: Yes I am the London Tory Candidate!

HAGUE : He is the London Tory Candidate!

ALL : He is! Hurrah for the London Tory Candidate!

CANDIDATE: And it is -- it is a glorious thing to be the London Tory 

ALL : It is! Hurrah for the London Tory Candidate

<the band strikes up>

I am the very model of a London Tory Candidate
And every evening on the TV you are sure to hear me prate
About the lack of honesty in politicians nowadays,
And how there's really no-one left (apart from me) deserving praise.
So here I trot up whitehall with my Blue Flag and my gleaming steed
With Mr Aitken's Sword of Truth and trusty British Fair-Play Shield 
To show you all I'm different and William Hague was right to see,
A candidate who's flagrant with integrity and probity!

ALL: Integri-tegrity, Integri-tegrity!
A candidate who's flagrant with integrity and probity!

The greasy pole was slippery, the climb was long, the stakes were high
I've spent sev'ral small fortunes on Champagne and bloody Cottage Pie.
But still, it was all worth it, the expense was quite commensurate,
You need to spend a lot to be the London Tory Candidate!

ALL: But still, it was all worth it, the expense was quite commensurate
You need to spend a lot to be the London Tory Candidate!

From photo-call to photo-call I wander spouting sophistry
On how I ride the bus a lot, and how the tube is safe with me
Because I won't *quite* sell it off but merely forty nine per cent
(Which by a strange coincidence is just what 'Two Jags' Prescott meant).
With chinese I ate roasted duck, with cockneys it was jellied eels,
I've been to every synagogue, danced Irish jigs and Scottish reels,
I've done the Gays, I've done the Blacks, the Hindus and the Muslims too
If your group hasn't been ticked off then I would like to speak to you!

ALL: He's done the Gays, he did the Blacks, the Hindus and the Muslims too,
And if he hasn't ticked you off he'd rather like to speak to you!

Now some say I don't mean it, that I am a slimy hypocrite,
But is that fair I ask you? If you'll only stop and think a bit
You'll see the effort I put in, it really means a lot to me
It proves, at last, that I possess integrity and probity!

All: You see the effort he puts in, it really just confirms that he
For all his wealth has *second hand* integrity and probity!


I am the very model of an urban homosexual
London 1998

someone asked me to write a parody of some Gilbert and Sullivan,
here (with a couple of suggestions from the Lovely Rupert) is the outcome:

[The HOMOSEXUAL has entered unnoticed, on poppers]
HOMOSEXUAL: Yes I am an urban homosexual!
FAG HAG : For he is an urban homosexual!
ALL : He is! Hurrah for the urban homosexual!
HOMOSEXUAL: And it is -- it is a glorious thing to be an urban homosexual!
ALL : It is! Hurrah for the urban homosexual

<the band strikes up>

H: I am the very model of an urban homosexual
I seek that 'special one' and so my cruising is perpetual,
And even though I tell folks that I very very happy am
A cynic may consider this a self-deluding hollow sham.
From club to club and drug to drug I stagger in a twilight world
Of profiteering venues outside which the rainbow flag's unfurled,
So over priced and over full and over loud it seems to be
A symbol now of greed and not of freedom and diversity.

ALL: Diversi-versity, diversi-versity!
A symbol now of greed and not of freedom and diversity.

H: I spend my cash in Clone Zone, Prowler Press and in the Zipperstore.
I pull a man each evening; but by morning he's a crushing bore.
In short by being shallow, fickle, foolish, apolitical
I am the very model of an urban homosexual.

ALL: In short by being shallow, fickle, foolish, apolitical
He is the very model of an urban homosexual.

H: I read Attitude and Boyz and Out and suchlike periodicals
That tell me what to wear, to think, and that I want abdominals.
(For abs like rock and pecs like steel are what define us nowadays
And if you haven't got 'em then to some folk you're not really gay).
My body's toned and sculpted and my hair's a very modish crop,
My only Social Statement is a Dolce & Gabbana top
(Through which I flex my pecs at any passing bit of skinhead trade)
And my idea of hell is going out and failing to get laid.

ALL: And failing to get laid! And failing to get laid!
And failing failing failing failing failing to get laid!

H: I follow all the Boy Bands and on Fridays I'm a Dancing Queen
At Camp Attack at G.A.Y. pretending that I'm still eighteen.
I'll be at Trade the next night in a t-shirt rather minimal...
It's non-stop entertainment for an urban homosexual

ALL: He'll be at Trade the next night, in a t-shirt rather minimal
It's non-stop entertainment for an urban homosexual.

H.: Then three hours' sleep and off I go to somewhere rather heavier,
A Sunday night cheap-beer'n'fuck do at some run-down leather bar,
Where jockstrap clad and nipple clamped, I do the modern fetish thing
And sublimate my shyness getting fisted in a leather sling.
But still that's not enough for me and so I wander off elswhere
In search of quick encounters up to Hampstead Heath or Russell Square
But I won't use Clapham Common as I think it's all too sinister -
I'm looking for a rent boy but I'd probably meet a minister.

All: A mini-minister! A mini-minister!
He's looking for a rentboy but he'd probably meet a minister!

H: It's 5AM on Monday when I'm suddenly cognisant that
I have a job to hold down and I really must get to my flat.
And so I get the last bus home depressed that I have failed to pull -
Thus ends the usual weekend of the urban homosexual.

All: And so he gets the last bus home depressed that he has failed to pull
Thus ends the usual weekend of the urban homosexual.


In Poor Imitation of Shakespeare (for Ben).

You mar yourself with constant doubt.
Be not so dour, and in your thought
Take on a little of the view
That I have when I think on you.
Since then, your eyes yourself malign
Let some small light reflect from mine:
There's none so blind as those that will
In mirror-gazing see but ill,
Cold mirrors show no more than face,
And creeping age's cold embrace -
Look here instead, and in my eyes
Let limpid truth disclose where lies
A heart of love, a sad, wise mind,
For both, in you, these things I find.
So, with these words, dispatched in my poor rhyme,
May Mark's-eye-Ben escape the reach of time.

(well, it's hard to do faux-sonnets when you have customers on the phone
every few minutes...)


A Parnassian Does Her Duty.

written for Ben - straight off in about an hour
on National Poetry Day October 8th 1998

I know the form that these things take
First 'The Invocation' - then make
A verse or two that shows the way
You want the errand done, then say
A few concluding lines. Right, so,
That being settled, off we go.

Now come, O Muse, and visit Lee
(A place not often linked with thee
It must be said). She heeds my call!
See! see! obediently in thrall
She quits Parnassus. Silver Wings
Float o'er estates, cars, trees and things
Which, closely watched, can resolve to
A shape that from Her aerial view
(Crossmatched with divine A to Z -
Well, even muses get misled)
Defines the line of Eltham Road.
Thus, reassured, to one abode
Drops down her Grace, to perch upon
A roof she hopes shelters the one
Sought. Phonebook opens, pages turn
Through London (South) she seeks 'Colburn'.
Then, having checked th'address is right,
Leans down and peers into the light
Of Candles, shining from a room
Where piles of books and minerals loom
Above a bed on which reclines
A black clad figure - drawing signs
And sigils on his many maps -
Ensconced amongst so many scraps
Of paper (bearing Family Trees,
Coats of Arms and Deities
Arranged in patterns geometric
By a mind that's more hectic
Than ordered) that the scene recalls
Some Great Bird's Nest. Her shadow falls
(Cast by the Moon) across the bed.
Startled, the figure raises head
And widens eyes as it beholds,
(Upside down and wrapped in folds
Of robe that was not meant to be
Quite *thus* subject to gravity)
The redd'ning face there suspended.
Striving to maintain up-ended
Dignity, the Muse sways back and
Forth, curses, and extends a hand
Through the non-resisting glass.
'Well' Appeals the goddess 'you can tell
I am not used to this position
And, since you look like tradition
Means Something to you young man, might
You perhaps help me to upright
Stance?' The youth drop't the Ashen Staff
He'd grabbed in fear, suppress'd a laugh
And, gravely bowing, answered back
'It's true one thing I do not lack
Madam, is courtesy and, if
I am not mistaken, a whiff
Of divinity attends this
Visit. Therefore be welcome, 'tis
Not often that my room has seen
So auspicious an event nor been
Favoured by a god. But tell me
Why are you here? And do I see
A Paper thrust beneath the band
At your waist?' He put forth a hand
And drew the rumpled spirit in
Gracefully (though she banged her shin
And uttered several words in greek
Ev'n the tutor later that week
Was hard put to translate). 'Now then'
She said as she smoothed her gown 'when
I have quite restored my balance
You shall hear how your own talents
Prompt this visit. My contract says
That I'm obliged (both night and day)
To turn out whene'er some poets Whim
Impels a verse or two from him
That starts 'O Muse'. I need hardly
Say that this annoying bardly
Trite and hackneyed affectation
Causes no small irritation
On Parnassus. Time and again
I'm forced through wind and hail and rain
To turn up in some teen's boudoir
And all because some lout thought 'phwoooar'
Then dressed his hormones up in smart
Pentameters t'impress the tart'
The muse drew breath and seemed to think
'It's SO annoying, when you drink
Nectar and eat Ambrosia,
Some mortal doting on a rear
Can write 'O muse, sing of her bum'
And make me set off at a run
To deliver it... Erm, I seem
To have departed from the scheme
Of things... let me get back on track'
(A Muse, by musing, loses her aim
But wait enough and she'll declaim
The verse that prompted her visit -
And maybe, at last, this is it...)
'Now then, there seem to be no lack
Of admirers of you young man,
But fortunately few who can
Put pen to paper in the style
That drives a Muse to cover miles'
The young man smiles and nods his head
'there's Truth in that' he sighed and said
'However' said the Muse 'it seems
There's one who fits the bill and dreams
Of you, and Pears, and Ships, and stuff
Like that. And, though his talent's rough,
Here I am - and here is his poem
Listening to it's all you owe him'
With that the Muse lifted her hand
And loosed the paper from the band
About her waist, unrolled it then
Winked and began

'I know the form that these things take...'


Conservatives and others...
Lancaster 1987

I hear a shrill unreasoned voice
That speaks of True Parental Choice
And how important to our nation
Are people taught to know their station.
'In hisTORY Gays must have no part!'
(So farewell Richard Lionheart,
Edward the Second, James the First -
To name a handful of the worst -
And if some curious little child
Should ask about old Oscar Wilde
We'll talk about 'Artistic Pose'
And not let on he's One Of Those)
'Sex Education's got to go
There's Certain Things You Shouldn't Know!'
(They lead to harm in later life,
Like knowing how to please your 'wife'
Or please your 'husband' and avoid
The nastier things as found by Freud
Or worse. 'Innocence' baits a trap
That leads to AIDS, the Pox and Clap.
Parent's know best on Cunts and Dicks -
The Proof? Child Abuse Statistics).




| | | | | ©2009 Mark Ynys-Mon