Tag Archives: Early Modern England

“The Blinding of the Cyclops Polyphemus”

Modern Heroic Couplets by Paul Burgess–inspired by a scene in Homer [Book 9 of The Odyssey; one might view these lines as a compressed adaptation and modernization of a much longer passage.]

While clutching at his mutilated eye,
To Ulysses, the Cyclops gave reply:
“An oracle, whose words I could recite,
Predicted that the man who’d take my sight
Would be the famous hero Ulysses.
From mini morsels, shorter than my knees,
I had no fear of death or even harm—
A shadow might have caused me more alarm!
Assuming only force could make me blind,
I was not ready for a deadly mind.

 

–Anyone interested in Homer, Classical Poetry, or Early Modern English Literature* should check out George Chapman’s brilliant translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey. The following link leads to information on an inexpensive edition of the translation so famously praised by Keats: http://www.amazon.com/Chapmans-Homer-Odyssey-Classics-Literature/dp/1840221178/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1401367076&sr=1-3&keywords=wordsworth+classics+chapman%27s+homer

*from the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods in which Shakespeare was one among several brilliant minds

“Thomas Hobbes”

When influential monarchist Thomas Hobbes
Suggests that men in nature are like brutes,
The modern readers say, between their sobs,
“I guess some haven’t left behind their roots.”

Edgar Allan Poe, Marie Antoinette, Mary Queen of Scots, and Ernest Hemingway–4 Clerihews by Paul Burgess

“Edgar Allan Poe”
Edgar “Raven” Allan Poe
To cemeteries liked to go
And mourn the cousins lying dead
Who nevermore would share his bed. *

*While many of my clerihews are absurd, this one comes somewhat close to the truth.

“Marie Antoinette”
The queen, Marie Antoinette,
In Vegas made a foolish bet.
She wagered both her neck and head
On men forgetting what she’d said.

“Mary Queen of Scots”
Mary, lovely Queen of Scots,
Refused to sleep on hay or cots.
She cried, “This cot’s no feather bed!”
Queen Bess* replied, “Off with her head!”

*Elizabeth I’s nickname.

“Ernest Hemingway”
Insecure old* Ernest Hemingway
Was afraid that people’d think him gay*,
So he vowed he’d never leave Japan
‘til he’d fought Godzilla like a man.*

*In the first foot of each line, I have used anapests instead of iambs.
*Hemingway was the sort of “manly man” who would exaggerate his masculinity to alleviate his sexual confusion.

*I apologize for the sexist assumption that only men would fight Godzilla.

Elizabeth I–the 5th Clerihew by Paul Burgess

A clerihew about the brilliant “virgin” queen:

“Elizabeth I”
Good Queen Elizabeth the First
Among all liars was the worst.
She was a virgin, people said,
Including those who shared her bed.
(Alternate ending: Because they’d rather keep their head[s]…)