Sunday, August 21, 2011

Poetry Break: "The Song of the Wanderin' Angus"

Angus Cow and Calf
(Image from Wikipedia)

Time for another poetry break, but with apologies to William Butler Yeats for my parody of his lovely poem "The Song of Wandering Aengus" (The Wind Among the Reeds, 1899), but I just can't get over its title. First, the original poem by Yeats:
"The Song of Wandering Aengus"

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
That's the lovely original, and knowing that "Aengus" in Irish mythology was likely a god of love, youth, and poetic inspiration helps in understanding the poem, for when I first read this poem at Baylor, I was fresh from the Ozarks and misunderstood "Aengus" as "Angus," a breed of cattle with which I was quite familiar but which left me baffled by the poem. The breed of cattle is still my first thought upon seeing the title, and I always think of a steer that's gotten out of pasture and wandered off lost and thus needs to be sought for. Hence the following parody:
The Song of the Wanderin' Angus

I went out to ol' Hazel's wood,
Because I feared I had a head
Of cattle that had gone and wand-
ered off toward death to dread.
And while the steer was on that fling,
I searched till stars were blinkin' out,
And tripped unwary in a stream,
But caught myself and clambered out.

And so I laid there on the floor
Of Hazel's wood in burnin' shame,
And asked if rustled from my door
Had been that steer I knew by name:
Had it become a simmerin' sirl-
oin steak with ample sauce right there
Where branded was my name and ran
Its juice o'er plate with bright'nin' glare?

Though mighty old with wanderin'
Through hollers, hills, and flinty lands,
I'll not give up on it as gone,
That Angus wandered from my hands.
I'll wend my way through dappled grass,
And chuck from time to time till done
Small stones like slivers at the moon,
And stones yet bolder at the sun.
No harm intended, ye fans of W. B. Yeats. I also like his poetry, so just enjoy the puns . . . if ye can. Enjoyment might prove difficult, however. Just yesterday, I was telling my wife that one shouldn't write parodies of good poems because the parody will always be inferior. Instead, write parodies of famous, popular, oft-quoted but mediocre poems so that the parody will be better than the original.

I broke my rule, and I know I'll go to hell for this, but I just couldn't pass up a good pun . . .

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At 11:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to worry Jeff.

Cran grants dispensations.


At 2:27 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Lucky for me, he just might be into soteriological nepotism . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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