DAY 269: Penning a Cautionary Tale

27 May

IN EQUAL measures impish and grisly, cautionary tales moved from folklore to fashion in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

I’ve always been fond of ‘master of whimsy’ Hilaire Belloc (Jim, Who ran away from his Nurse, and was eaten by a Lion; Matilda, Who told lies, and was Burned to Death, etc) and German compendium Struwwelpeter (The Dreadful Story of Pauline and the Matches)… which inspires me to write my own bombastic verse.

It’s pretty simple. I have to adhere to rhyming couplets that fall into an iambic pentameter (if you give them a bit of a shove), and I need a very naughty subject.

First, though, here’s a cautionary tale by Hilaire:

George (The boy who played with dangerous toys)

When George’s Grandmamma was told
That George had been as good as gold,
She promised in the afternoon
To buy him an Immense BALLOON.
And so she did; but when it came,
It got into the candle flame,
And being of a dangerous sort
Exploded with a loud report!
The lights went out! The windows broke!
The room was filled with reeking smoke.
And in the darkness shrieks and yells
Were mingled with electric bells,
And falling masonry and groans,
And crunching, as of broken bones,
And dreadful shrieks, when, worst of all,
The house itself began to fall!
It tottered, shuddering to and fro,
Then crashed into the street below-
Which happened to be Savile Row.
When help arrived, among the dead
Were Cousin Mary, Little Fred,
The Footmen (both of them), the Groom,
The man that cleaned the Billiard-Room,
The Chaplain, and the Still-Room Maid.
And I am dreadfully afraid
That Monsieur Champignon, the Chef,
Will now be permanently deaf-
And both his aides are much the same;
While George, who was in part to blame,
Received, you will regret to hear,
A nasty lump behind the ear.
The moral is that little boys
Should not be given dangerous toys.

And now here’s mine.

Young Rosie (Who Fell Under the Hooves of a Galloping Deadline)

In a room deep in Stoke Newington
There bounced a great deal on the Futon
A Child, by turns, Wild and Woolly
In fact, she demanded one’s attention Fully.
Upon Daybreak she would Sally Forth
And insist that Grown-Ups be her Horse.
With a plaintive Cry of “Don’t Go, Don’t Go”
She’d Launch Herself upon their Torso
And Fling her arms around their Throat
So Tightly they were apt to note
That Rosie ought to wind it down a fraction
Or leave a Houseguest prone in Traction.
Alas, our Young Charge failed to forsee
That all these Boisterous Games of Horsey
Could only end in Sulks and Tears
When a Houseguest’s deadline nears.
But no, the Child would not be Told
In fact, she became Increasingly Bold:
The guest, Tappety Tapping on her Computer
Copped a deliberate Knee to the Hooter.
Once day Young Rosie made to Pounce
And duly Leapt quite Unannounced.
The Guest, alarmed, Caught Unawares
Hurled the Poor Child down the Stairs.
To Conclude, the Best Thing you can do
When spying a Careerist stuck like glue
Is tip Ribena betwixt the keys
And give a plaintive little “PLEASE”.

Keeper? Found my calling! I’ll write you one for fifty bucks.

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