Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I just gotta say,


Perhaps the most parodied poem ever?

Oh Cassie, you have taken this into a bizarre new place. Behind the Looking Glass even.


My grandmother had a *thing* for Lewis Carrol. She was also surrounded most of her life by other extremely intelligent women who were not allowed to work. But they were allowed to volunteer. Churches, community centers and, in Grandma's case, the Girl Scouts, all benefited from their crafty dedication.

At one point, while Grandma was on the National Council, she discovered that the most of the rest of the leaders of Girl Scouts in the USA were nuts for Lewis Carrol too. They traded quotes, they dressed up as him or some of his very obscure characters for parties, they were hooked. Towards the end of her term, in an homage to Carroll, they wrote their Council minutes in the metre of Song of Hiawatha. No one noticed. Hee! So they did it again. No comments. Hee Hee! (It should be noted here that Grandma took great pains to speak glowingly of Longfellow, and she was accomplished at reading "Song of Hiawatha" in a flowing manner that really was moving. These girls were doing an homage more to Lewis Carrol's "Hiawatha's Photographing" than they were making fun of "Song of Hiawatha".)

For decades after that, there were sections of Christmas cards passed around this group (ominously nicknamed "the seven", peppered with Hiawatha drumbeats. Grandma got so good at it that she could just start talking in (help me wiki, are they trochees or dactyls?) trochaic metre.


Wikipedia has the intro from Lewis Carrol to his parody, "Hiawatha's Photographing". This is so clever:
In an age of imitation, I can claim no special merit for this slight attempt at doing what is known to be so easy. Any fairly practised writer, with the slightest ear for rhythm, could compose, for hours together, in the easy running metre of 'The Song of Hiawatha'. Having then distinctly stated that I challenge no attention in the following little poem to its merely verbal metre I must ask the candid reader to confine his criticism to its treatment of the subject.
Anyway. Dear Cassie, you've brought back some humorous memories.

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