Author Archives: paulwhitberg

About paulwhitberg

Pizza is good. Pizza is great. Eat some pizza before it's too late.

Robin

An Elegy [a draft]

Did you attempt to fill an inner hole
By pouring water in another’s well?
Was soothing ev’ry stranger’s sagging soul
A way to lift your own from hopeless Hell?
You were a glass that magnified delight,
A sun that shined upon the spirit’s shore.
Your blazing, blinding brilliance kept from sight
The darkness deep inside your solar core.

When choosing not to live another day,
Perhaps, you—like us—didn’t truly know
That there’d again be clouds of black and gray
Above the spots once brightened by your glow.
But, though extinguished, you remain a star—
Which means some light will reach us from afar.

Jekyll/Hyde

fragments from Underworld

Said Will, while pointing to the place he stood,
There’s Henry Jekyll, also known as Hyde.
Though math’s not how he earned his doc’tral hood,
His project was to physic’lly divide
The human soul into the “Bad” and “Good”
And fully feel the power of each side.
It seems his fame’s the sort to always soar
Because his name’s become a metaphor.

 
Of such distinctions, people are quite fond.
Imagined cosmic wars of Right and Wrong
Are something few of us have moved beyond.
We’ve seen in black and white so very long
For fear that existence is a pond
Whose waters flow around the pointed prong
Which, partnered up with Concept’s nimble knife,
Attempts to slice, then pin and label life.

 

 

 

 

Paradox

I see a paradox in form and rhyme:
A pattern, regular as night and day,
Will coax a phrase we’d never think to say.
Inspired by verse, we might compare a crime
To something sour—perhaps a slice of lime.
This act of making words a thing of play
Restores the color to what’s going gray
And lifts the spells of blindness cast by Time.
Convention, seeming like a chain with locks,
Releases brilliance that we never sought
By forcing us to free a fettered thought.
In form and rhyme, I see a paradox.

Crazy and Disgusting

Crazy:
There’s a man who resides in a flat
Who’s convinced he’s becoming a rat.
On his hands and his knees,
He will search for some cheese
‘til he’s met by the gaze of a cat.

…and Disgusting:

There’s a chef from the city of Cork
Who was renowned for his dishes of pork
…‘til the day it was found
He’d been serving up hound
For his diners to eat with a fork.

Mad Method

Like Byron, of whose work I’m quite a fan,
I often yield to whimsy of the mind
And stumble ‘round without a guiding plan,
While rarely knowing what I hope to find
Asleep in corners that I probe and scan.
[I don’t decide the way the threads unwind].
I’ve written things I’ve barely understood
And seen results that mix the bad and good.

Rumor

…a fragment from an unfinished episode.

Of Rumor’s motives I’ve become suspicious
And found them things we frequently misjudge.
The gossip least correct and most pernicious
Is often spread by those who hold no grudge.
A lie’s propelled by people called “ambitious”
[Who sling a sewer full of slimy sludge].
It’s hard for hands to earn a lawful crown
But not for tongues to tear one’s wearer down

FORTUNE

A translation/adaptation [by Paul “Whitberg” Burgess] of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde [Book IV, lines 1-7]

Alas, one’s joy’s for but a little while
Since changes make the Lady Fortune grin.
She seems the truest when she would beguile.
With her songs she reels her blinded captives in
Then proves as false as traitor’s ever been.
When, from her wheel, she casts a person down,
She laughs to see her helpless victim frown.

The Original Passage:
But al to litel, weylaway the whyle,
Lastesth swich joie, ythonked be Fortune,
That semeth trewest whan she wol bygyle
And kan to fooles so hire song entune
That she hem hent and blent, traitour comune!
And whan a wight is from hire whiel ythrowe,
Than laugeht she, and maketh hym the mow.

TROILUS AND CRISEYDE

from Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde Book I, Lines 225-59; translated/adapted from Middle English by Paul “Whitberg” Burgess

The Translation:
…It was thus for the brave and prideful knight.
As Priam’s son, a prince of Trojan race,
He’d never dreamed that any force’s might
Could pierce his heart and make it beat apace.
His heart was set ablaze by Beauty’s face,
And he, whose pride had soared so high above,
Was promptly put in chains by potent Love.

What better evidence can one adduce
To show those thinking, “Love can’t conquer me”
That Cupid wields the powers that reduce
To servitude a heart that once was free?
This rule has held and will eternally:
The chains of Love will bind whatever lives,
And none can break a law which Nature gives.

This truth’s been shown and will be shown again.
Some reading would reveal to all on Earth
That love enslaves the best there’s ever been.
It captures those with thoughts of endless worth,
Imprisons men with muscles great in girth,
And puts in thrall the peers of royal name.
The ways of Love have always been the same.

I truly think the ways of Love are fair,
And sages tend to hold the same belief.
So many men succumbing to despair
Have found that Love’s the perfect cure for grief,
And it provides the cruelest hearts relief.
It’s pushed the great to even greater fame
And made the shameless feel a sense of shame.

Since Love’s a god no person can resist
[and is the sea that’s Virtue’s flowing source],
Present to Love your willing heart and wrist,
Lest he decide to bind them both by force.
It’s better that a sapling take the course
Of wind that’d snap its tender trunk in two
… “Obey the god,” is my advice to you.

The Original Passage:
…So ferde it by this fierse and proude knyght
Though he worthy kynges sone were
And wende nothing hadde swich might
Ayeyns his wille that shuld his herte stere,
Yet with a look his herte wex a-fere,
That he now was moost in pride above
Wax sodeynly moost subgit unto love

Forthy ensample taketh of this man,
Ye wise, proude, and worthi folks alle
To scornen Love, which that so soone kan
The freedom of youre hertes to hym thralle
For evere it was, and evere it shall byfalle
That Love is he that alle thing may bynde
For may no man fordon the law of kynde.

That this be soth, hath preved and doth yit.
For this trowe I ye knowen alle or some,
Men redden nat that folk han gretter wit
Than they that han be most with love ynome
And strengest folk ben therwith overcome,
The worthiest and grettest of degree:
This was, and is, and yet men shall it see.

And trewelich it sit well to be so,
For alderwisest han therwith ben pleased;
And they that han ben aldermost in wo,
With love han ben comforted moost and esed;
And ofte it hath the cruel herte apesed,
And worthi folk maad worthier of name,
And causeth moost to dreden vice and shame.

Now sith it may nat goodly ben withstonde,
And is a thing so vertuous in kynde,
Refuseth nat to Love for to ben bonde,
Syn, as hymselven liste, he may yow bynde;
The yerde is bet that bowen wole and wynde
Than that that brest, and therefore I yow rede
To follow hym that so wel kan yow lede.

BEER: A BALLAD

[The ballad without its “Classical Intro”]

A beer can make a person wise
And make a person witty.
It’s not allowed at school and work,
And that’s a bloody pity.

Though not allowed at school or work,
A beer enhances play.
My doctor recommends I drink
A pint or two a day:

“A pint to welcome morning’s sun,
Another one at noon—
Then, wash your dinner down with beer
To welcome Mother Moon.”

Those were the orders doctor gave.
I swear it on my life.
You’ll listen to the doc, I’m sure,
If you’re a loving wife.

It’s best you didn’t call the doc,
For he’s a busy man.
The only question left for now
Is “Bottle, draught, or can?”

The hours dissolve like foam, my dear,
Like bubbles in a cup.
Relax and have a beer with me
To bring your spirits up.

Recline a moment on the couch.
I’ll pour you out a glass.
I’ll pick a brew that’s fit for you,
That’s sweet but got some sass.

A life is filled with bitter things
But also with delight,
So let us shun the bitter beers
And drink a Belgian White.