Purple Poesy

DIVERSIONS OF THE RE-ECHO CLUB

It is with pleasure that we announce our ability to offer to the public the papers of the Re-Echo Club. This club, somewhat after the order of the Echo Club, late of Boston, takes pleasure in trying to better what is done. On the occasion of the meeting of which the following gems of poesy are the result, the several members of the club engaged to write up the well-known tradition of the Purple Cow in more elaborate form than the quatrain made famous by Mr. Gelett Burgess:

“I NEVER saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one.”

[…]

MR. A. SWINBURNE:

Oh, Cow of rare rapturous vision,
Oh, purple, impalpable Cow,
Do you browse in a Dream Field Elysian,
Are you purpling pleasantly now?
By the side of wan waves do you languish?
Or in the lithe lush of the grove?
While vainly I search in my anguish,
Bovine of mauve!

Despair in my bosom is sighing,
Hope’s star has sunk sadly to rest;
Though cows of rare sorts I am buying,
Not one breathes a balm to my breast.
Oh, rapturous rose-crowned occasion
When I such a glory might see!
But a cow of a purple persuasion
I never would be.


Elsewhere other-engageable:

The Purple Cow Parodies
Diversions of the Re-Echo Club
Such Nonsense! An Anthology (c. 1918) — with this and other parodies

Feel the ’Burne

The Poets at Tea […]

3.—(Swinburne, who let it get cold)

As the sin that was sweet in the sinning
Is foul in the ending thereof,
As the heat of the summer’s beginning
Is past in the winter of love:
O purity, painful and pleading!
O coldness, ineffably gray!
Oh, hear us, our handmaid unheeding,
And take it away!

Barry Pain (1864-1928)


A Melton-Mowbray Pork Pie

Strange pie that is almost a passion,
     O passion immoral for pie!
Unknown are the ways that they fashion,
     Unknown and unseen of the eye.

The pie that is marbled and mottled,
     The pie that digests with a sigh:
For all is not Bass that is bottled,
     And all is not pork that is pie.

Richard Le Gallienne (1866-1947)

Whet Work

What, still alive at twenty-two,
A clean, upstanding chap like you?
Sure, if your throat ’tis hard to slit,
Slit your girl’s, and swing for it.

Like enough, you won’t be glad,
When they come to hang you, lad:
But bacon’s not the only thing
That’s cured by hanging from a string.

So, when the spilt ink of the night
Spreads o’er the blotting-pad of light,
Lads whose job is still to do
Shall whet their knives, and think of you.

Hugh Kingsmill’s famous parody of A.E. Housman

Eight Speech

OCTOPUS

By Algernon Charles Sin-burn

STRANGE beauty, eight-limbed and eight-handed,
    Whence camest to dazzle our eyes?
With thy bosom bespangled and banded
    With the hues of the seas and the skies;
Is thy home European or Asian,
    O mystical monster marine?
Part molluscous and partly crustacean,
    Betwixt and between.

Wast thou born to the sound of sea trumpets,
    Hast thou eaten and drunk to excess
Of the sponges — thy muffins and crumpets;
    Of the seaweed — thy mustard and cress?
Wast thou nurtured in caverns of coral,
    Remote from reproof or restraint?
Art thou innocent, art thou immoral,
    Sinburnian or Saint?

Lithe limbs, curling free, as a creeper
    That creeps in a desolate place,
To enroll and envelop the sleeper
    In a silent and stealthy embrace,
Cruel beak craning forward to bite us,
    Our juices to drain and to drink,
Or to whelm us in waves of Cocytus,
    Indelible ink!

O breast, that ’twere rapture to writhe on!
    O arms, ’twere delicious to feel
Clinging close with the crush of the Python,
    When she maketh her murderous meal!
In thy eightfold embraces enfolden,
    Let our empty existence escape;
Give us death that is glorious and golden,
    Crushed all out of shape!

Ah! thy red lips, lascivious and luscious,
    With death in their amorous kiss,
Cling round us, and clasp us, and crush us,
    With bitings of agonized bliss;
We are sick with the poison of pleasure,
    Dispense us the potion of pain;
Ope thy mouth to its uttermost measure
    And bite us again!

Arthur Clement Hilton (1851–77), written at the Crystal Palace Aquarium.