6770856_1-1

Walt Whitman Parody

From a Ignes Fatui, a Book of Parodies by Philip Guedalla (Oxford 1911) Parodic poems and playlets written while Guedalla was at Rugby and Balliol College, Oxford. Some of the parodies are of slightly forgotten authors like W.E. Henley and Maeterlinck (a piece that sounds like  Beckett's Godot) but he also lampoons Macaulay, Swinburne, Kipling, Baedeker, Omar Khayyam, Hardy, Shakespeare and Shaw. Here is his Whitman squib - at the time Whitman's reputation was still breaking in England.

'Walt Whitman, Inciting the Bird of
Freedom to Soar' by Max Beerbohm 1904

Canzonette to Democracy

I sing the song of me mendacious and the lies of
me mendacious:

I see God give the Land to the People, and the
grasshoppers on the Land,

I see double! Libertad, Americanos, Libertad I
cry. (No, I will not keep quiet.)

I want Eight, Votes for Women, brilliantine, a half blue,
one Man one Pub., Home Rule for Wales and a National Theatre.

Allons, camerados, let us tax the foreigner; let's
tax him in Paumanok, Manhattan, Oswego
and Illinois, but especially in Illinois.

I care nothing, or comparatively nothing for 
Second Chambers, Revising or otherwise. I 
am not a Peer: are you?

How hot you all look, the En Masse, the Tout
Ensemble: I too am hot from my unkempt
hair-thatch to the ten curling toes, each self
-contained with its individual nail.

O Columbia, how hot I am!

[Oxford 1910]

The tone is reminiscent of Rick the 'people's poet' from The Young Ones but it passes the first test of parody - i.e. you know who is being parodied...not sure what 'Eight' was however.

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on StumbleUpon

One thought on “Walt Whitman Parody

  1. David Gouldstone

    The Eight in the Whitman parody will refer to battleships – Ironclads, to be exact. There was a naval arms race at the time (1910), especially between Britain and Germany. 'We want eight and we won't wait' was the slogan of the British hawks, eager to outgun the Hun.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.