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Lines on and from "Bartlett's Familiar Quotations" -- Franklin P Adams

Back in action - many thanks to Thomas for covering the while
(Poem #1017) Lines on and from "Bartlett's Familiar Quotations"
 ("Sir: For the first time in twenty-three years 'Bartlett's Familiar
 Quotations' has been revised and enlarged, and under a separate cover
 we are sending you a copy of the new edition. We would appreciate an
 expression of opinion from you of the value of this work after you have
 had an ample opportunity of examining it." --THE PUBLISHERS)

 Of making many books there is no end--
     So Sancho Panza said, and so say I.
 Thou wert my guide, philosopher and friend
     When only one is shining in the sky.

 Books cannot always please, however good;
     The good is oft interred with their bones.
 To be great is to be misunderstood,
     The anointed sovereign of sighs and groans.

 The Moving Finger writes, and having writ,
     I never write as funny as I can.
 Remote, unfriendly, studious let me sit
     And say to all the world, "This was a man!"

 Go, lovely Rose, that lives its little hour!
     Go, little booke! and let who will be clever!
 Roll on! From yonder ivy-mantled tower
     The moon and I could keep this up forever.
-- Franklin P Adams
The title says it all <g>. Today's little gem has been stitched together -
and stitched together with nonchalant skill - from various fragments of
famous quotes, the whole dancing just on the other side of that misty
boundary between sense and nonsense. The idea is not new, of course, but it
is amusing nonetheless, and highly pleasing in its grouping into rhyming and
metrical stanzas. What makes the poem funny, though (as opposed to merely
random), is the fact that, while it is altogether incoherent on a large
scale, consecutive lines do follow on neatly from one another. The humour
lies both in the unexpectedness of the twists and their skewed but
undeniable logic (and, of course, the introductory text at the start).

The somewhat disjointed quotes are mostly one to a line, except towards the
end when the pace picks up slightly and lines break into quote-fragments.
And all the quotes are, except for one I couldn't find, all taken from
Bartlett's. (I've collected them at the end to save you the trouble of
searching.)

martin

Links:

  Biography of Adams: Poem #212

  Some poems along vaguely similar lines:
    Poem #211, 'The Oxford Hysteria of English Poetry'

    'Things are Seldom What They Seem',
      [broken link] http://math.boisestate.edu/gas/pinafore/web_opera/pn14.html

  The Dissociated Press is worth a look:
    [broken link] http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/jargon/html/entry/Dissociated-Press.html
    [broken link] http://www.gnu.org/manual/emacs/html_node/emacs_427.html
    http://www.eblong.com/zarf/markov/index.html

References:

And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is
no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. -- Ecclesiastes 12:12, KJV

"God bless the man who first invented sleep!"
So Sancho Panza said, and so say I. -- John Godfrey Saxe, 'Early Rising'

Thou wert my guide, philosopher, and friend. -- Alexander Pope, 'Essay on Man'

A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye;
Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.
  -- William Wordsworth, 'She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways'

Books cannot always please, however good;
Minds are not ever craving for their food.
  -- George Crabbe

The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.
  -- William Shakespeare, 'Julius Caesar'

To be great is to be misunderstood. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

This senior-junior, giant-dwarf, Dan Cupid;
Regent of love-rhymes, lord of folded arms,
The anointed sovereign of sighs and groans,
Liege of all loiterers and malcontents.
  -- William Shakespeare, 'Love's Labour's Lost'

The Moving Finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on; nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
  -- Edward Fitzgerald, 'The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam'
     (Bartlett's rather curiously attributes it to Khayyam instead, making
      no mention whatsoever of Fitzgerald)

Ten days and nights, with sleepless eye,
I watched that wretched man,
And since, I never dare to write
As funny as I can
  -- Oliver Wendell Holmes, 'The Height of the Ridiculous'

Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow,
Or by the lazy Scheld or wandering Po.
  -- Oliver Goldsmith, 'The Traveller'

There studious let me sit,
And hold high converse with the mighty dead.
  -- James Thomson, 'The Seasons, Winter'

His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him, that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, "This was a man!"
  -- William Shakespeare, 'Julius Caesar'

Go, lovely rose!
Tell her that wastes her time and me
That now she knows,
When I resemble her to thee,
How sweet and fair she seems to be.
  -- Edmund Waller, 'Go Lovely Rose'

Loveliest of lovely things are they
On earth that soonest pass away.
The rose that lives its little hour
Is prized beyond the sculptured flower.
  -- William Cullen Bryant 'A Scene on the Banks of the Hudson'

Go, little booke! go, my little tragedie!
  -- Geoffrey Chaucer, 'Troilus and Creseide'

Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever;
Do noble things, not dream them, all day long:
And so make life, death, and that vast forever
One grand sweet song.
  -- Charles Kingsley, 'A Farewell'

Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll!
  -- George Gordon Noel Byron, Lord Byron, 'Childe Harold's Pilgrimage'

Roll on, thou ball, roll on
Through pathless realms of space,
Roll on!
  -- Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, 'To the Terrestrial Globe'

Save that, from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
  -- Thomas Gray, 'Elegy in a Country Churchyard'

Though I am anything but clever,
I could talk like that forever."
  -- W. S. Gilbert, 'HMS Pinafore'

46 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Suresh Ramasubramanian said...

ROTFL.

Immediately remembered that "king and duke" poem from Huck Finn - the one
that goes "ope not they ponderous and marble jaws, but get thee to a nunnery,
go!"

Larry Kooper said...

The quotation "the moon and I" in the last line is from:

Ah, pray make no mistake,
We are not shy;
We're very wide awake,
The moon and I!

- W.S. Gilbert, 'The Mikado'

Larry Kooper

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