Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Beating Edward Gorey to the Macabre Punch

Edward Gorey is an Intertubes darling for his macabre ABC book, the Gashlycrumb Tinies.

But he wasn’t the first to pen such nasty little rhymes as

A is for Amy who fell down the stairs,
B is for Basil assaulted by bears.
C is for Clara who wasted away,
D is for Desmond thrown out of a sleigh.

And Jocelyn Henry Clive Graham probably wasn’t the first, either, but he certainly preceded Gorey and his tinies with his own strain of black humor. Witness:

In the drinking well
Which the plumber built her,
Aunt Eliza fell.
We must buy a filter.

Witness further:

Weep not for little Leonie,
Abducted by a French marquis.
Though loss of honor was a wrench,
Just think how it improved her French.

And finally:

Billy, in one of his nice new sashes,
Fell in the grate and was burnt to ashes.
Now, although the room grows chilly,
I haven’t the heart to poke up Billy.

And that’s only the surface of Graham’s odd little world, which belies the saintly look on his face.

His Little Willie rhymes are even worse:

Willie poisoned his father’s tea;
Father died in agony.
Mother came and look quite vexed:
“Really, Will,” she said, “what next?”

Willie fell down the elevator –
Wasn’t found till six days later.
Then the neighbors sniffed, “Gee whizz!
What a spoiled child Willie is!”

Little Willie on the track.
Heard the engines squeal.
Now the engine’s coming back;
They’re scraping Willie off the wheel.

Willie saw some dynamite,
Couldn’t understand it quite;
Curiosity never pays;
It rained Willie seven days.

And here’s his most succinct, and my favorite:

Little Willie;
Pair of skates;
Hole in the ice;
Golden gates.

Edward Gorey better put his runnin' pants on.

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