Thursday, May 27, 2010

Morris Bishop, Smurf-Killer

I confess I’m not really a fan of the limerick. Though I’ve been praised for my affinity for writing tightly-structured poetry (okay, once, by a kind of out-there creative writing instructor at the University of Idaho) limericks are just a bit too limiting in their form for the kind of things I enjoy writing.

So I leave limericks to the professionals. Like Morris Bishop. Here’s a sample, which Louis Untermeyer obviously included in “The Treasury of Laughter”:

A ghoulish old fellow from Kent
Encrusted his wife in cement;
He said, with a sneer:
“I was careful, my dear,
To follow your natural bent.”

Not exactly my cup of tea, form-wise, but I won’t say I disapprove of the content. Untermeyer says Bishop is not “an originator” of light verse as is Ogden Nash, but “knows how to surprise the reader with a combination of round humor and barbed nonsense.”

Which makes me why Untermeyer didn’t include Bishop’s “How to Treat Elves” if he likes that round humor and surprise:

I met an elf man in the woods,
The wee-est little elf!
Sitting under a mushroom tall--
'Twas taller than himself!

"How do you do, little elf," I said,
"And what do you do all day?"
"I dance 'n fwolic about," said he,
"'N scuttle about and play;"

"I s'prise the butterflies, 'n when
A katydid I see,
'Katy didn't' I say, and he
Says 'Katy did!' to me!

"I hide behind my mushroom stalk
When Mister Mole comes froo,
'N only jus' to fwighten him
I jump out'n say 'Boo!'

"'N then I swing on a cobweb swing
Up in the air so high,
'N the cwickets chirp to hear me sing

"'N then I play with the baby chicks,
I call them, chick chick chick!
'N what do you think of that?" said he.
I said, "It makes me sick.

"It gives me sharp and shooting pains
To listen to such drool."
I lifted up my foot, and squashed
The God damn little fool.

Ah-hah. Not so nice. But there is that nice surprise Untermeyer promised. Somehow, I think he and Elmer Fudd would get along just fine.

No comments:

Post a Comment