Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October 2013 Poetry Challenge: A Parody

Much poetry has a serious purpose. Some is just for enjoyment. This month it is time for some poetic fun; it is time to write a parody.

Some poems almost seem to invite people to write parodies.  Among them are “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer and “Jenny Kiss’d Me” by Leigh Hunt.

Casey at the Bat

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, "If only Casey could but get a whack at that—
We'd put up even money now, with Casey at the bat."

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despisèd, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile lit Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt;
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one!" the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand;
And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;
But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, "Strike two!"

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Fraud!"
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate;
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.

~ Ernest Lawrence Thayer

Subsequent to the publication of this poem, other writers wrote parodies and sequels, some from the point of view of the opposing pitcher (or team), some in which Casey had a chance to redeem himself. In another, his daughter comes up to bat. I especially recommend “Casey – Twenty Years Later” by Clarence P. McDonald, “Casey’s Revenge” by Grantland Rice (both at http://www.richardton-taylor.k12.nd.us/tech/Casey%20stuff.htm), and a newer Casey poem, “Casey at the Bat (Road Game) by Garrison Keeler” (http://www.baseball-almanac.com/poetry/po_case7.shtml). Keeler’s parody assumes that Casey was playing on the road, not at home, and tells the story from the perspective of the opposing team.

You can scroll down to the “Casey Collection” at http://www.baseball-almanac.com/poems.shtml for other Casey poems (not all are parodies, however).

Jenny Kiss’d Me

Jenny kiss’d me when we met,
    Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
    Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
    Say that health and wealth have miss’d me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
    Jenny kiss’d me.

~ Leigh Hunt

Paul Dehn wrote the most famous (and probably the first) parody of “Jenny Kissed Me.” To read his poem and other parodies of Leigh Hunt;s poem (often printed as “Jenny Kissed Me:”) see http://warwithoblivion.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/free-poem-friday-jenny-kissed-me-and-parodies-thereof/. Here you will find some parodies longer than the original, including “Elvis Kissed Me” by T. S. Kerrigan.

Many other poems have been parodied. They include “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Alan Poe, “Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and “If” by Rudyard Kipling. You can read some of these parodies at http://www.angelfire.com/oz/redrose/funnyparody.html.

October Poetry Challenge:

The challenge for October is to write a parody of a famous poem, a poem old enough to be in the public domain (so we don’t run into copyright issues). Please submit only one poem. You can parody “Casey at the Bat” or “Jenny Kiss’d Me,” but there are already numerous parodies of those poems, so you will have a better chance of winning if you select a different poem. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Wordsworth, Edgar Alan Poe, and even William Shakespeare provide a lot of good material for parody.

The deadline is October 15. Poems submitted after the October 15 deadline will not be considered.

Copyright on poems are retained by the poets.

Poems published in books or on the Internet (including Facebook and other on-line social networks) are not eligible. If you poem has been published in a periodical, you may submit it if you retain copyright, but please include publication data.

How to Submit Your Poem:

Send your poem to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for [ dot]. Be sure provide your e-mail address. When you submit your poem, include the name and author of the poem being parodied. If the poem is published on the Internet, please include a link to it. If not, please send a copy of the poem and publication data with your parody.

Submission of a poem gives permission for the poem to be posted on the blog if it is a winner, so be sure that you put your name, exactly as you would like it to appear if you do win, at the end of the poem. Poems may be pasted into an email or sent as an attachment. Please do not indent the poem or center it on the page. Send a brief bio with your poem, if you would like to have one published if your poem is a winner.

© 2013 Wilda Morris