Tag Archives: formal verse

“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


“Lost Cat” an Elizabethan Sonnet by Paul Burgess

While watering the plants today, I heard
The ring of metal tags then saw a cat
And wondered whether he’d pursued a bird
Too far and gotten lost. He was as fat
And clean, from furry head to furry paw,
As any loving person’s treasured pet.
A little like one running from the law—
Eluding officers’ circling, dragging net—
He’d often hide in bushes and in trees.
His eyes appeared to say, “It’s not a game.
I’m scared and want again my life of ease.”
He fled before the tags revealed his name.
I hope his face won’t soon appear on pines
In “Help-Me-Find-My-Precious-Kitty” signs.

“Apology for the Rich”–A Parody of Jonathan Swift [Written by Paul Burgess in 2006]

Having become tired of writing papers, I asked a professor if he would let me write a poem in the style of the era we were studying. He agreed, and the results can be seen below by creatures that have eyes:

“An Apology for the Rich”


Oh, Doctor Swift was quick enough of wit
that victims scarcely knew it when he hit
with lightning, dagger strokes of lethal pen
exposing them as loathsome, foolish men.
A funny time it must have surely been
when verse that’d turn a squeamish person green
and scathing satires, murderously keen
were written by a pious, holy dean!
The poem:
The Yahoos filled them with such disgust,
they’d laugh and think, “I’m not like that, I trust!”
For those among the saintly upper crust
possessed no bit of vanity or lust,
nor any other vice, you may be sure;
their souls were noble, true, and wholly pure.
If your doubt need remedy or cure,
remember how they did so well endure
(Unlike the wicked, wretched, starving poor,
the very men, who did the wrath incur
of He who sits on pearly throne above—
His vengeance tempered only by his love).
In fact, I’d say they did no less than thrive,
while peasants struggled just to stay alive.
(They) deservedly had more than all the rest
for they’re* the children God did like the best.    *they were
Oh, rest assured, I don’t speak in jest
(I cross the heart that beats behind my breast)
but say these words I know to be correct.
No, not a one of them would visit whores,
for just their dearest, darling wives’ allures
could ever make them grow the least erect.
Declare I further, words escaped their lips
that came from deep inside their powdered heads
(and not the smaller ones between their hips);
oh, each and everything was wise they said
(with voices musical’s* Apollo’s lyre;          *as
I wish I’d lived (then) to hear them and admire).
And physic’lly they were at least as fine,
with faces soft, without a single line
and smiles as sweet as fancy, agéd wine
(perhaps from Bacchus’s legendary vine)!
Though smell them, I did not, I dare presume
they always had aromas like perfume,
from birth ‘til time of final rest in tomb.
(How lucky must have been their young in fragrant womb!)*        *intentional extra iamb
I cannot help but be in utter awe
of humans as devoid of slightest flaw!