Anonymous poet No. 4

Standard

Jingle Stupid Bells (About a little black cat who thinks he’s a panther.)

Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright…
Ha! I’m the panther in the night.
With tigers Blake was surely taken
But by Bastet, he was mistaken.

Panthers are by far superior
Than all the old tiger hysteria.

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Okay – so I had to do a little research after I read this and will pass on what I learned. This is probably common knowledge but I’ll include it just in case. William Blake wrote a poem ‘The Tiger’ in 1794 that begins…Tiger, tiger, burning bright… And Bastet is the Egyptian cat-headed goddess and I think we all know what panthers are.

Now I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to writing parodies. What makes a parody of a poem work is the ability of the author to stick strictly to the original meter. If you are going to begin your poem with such a famous line then I would expect the rest of the poem to continue in the same fashion. So let’s see how true this one is.

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Here’s the original…

.

Ti ger ti ger burn ing bright
In the for ests of the night
What im mor tal hand or eye
Could frame thy fear ful sym me try

.

The meter is trochaic (mostly) – a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable with the final foot missing its unstressed mate. In fancy terms this final foot is catalectic.

It is written in rhyming couplets and each stanza or verse has four lines (a quatrain). So the rhyming pattern is AABB

.

Ti ger ti ger burn ing bright
Ha I’m the pan ther in the night
With ti gers Blake was sure ly tak en
But by Bas tet he was mis tak en

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Anonymous poet No. 4’s verse is pretty similar with a few exceptions. You’ll note I’ve omitted the last two lines for an easier comparison.

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Line by line edit…

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Line 1

No problems there.

.

Line 2

Personally I would recommend removing the “Ha”. I don’t think it adds anything and I found it a bit jarring, wanting to begin the line with a stressed syllable. The rest of the line is good.

.

Line 3

Being the stickler I want to begin the line with a stressed syllable so maybe…

.

Blake with ti gers he was tak en

 

Line 4

 

But by Bas tet he was mis tak en

From my understanding the author is saying that Bastet prefers panthers to tigers. I’m happy to start the line with an unstressed syllable because Blake has done just that. But two unstressed syllables, no. In fact the meter falls apart in this last line and it is a bit difficult to understand. Using the pronoun ‘he’ is confusing. Who is the ‘he’ referring to, Blake or Bastet? Remembering that not everyone will know who Bastet is. So then I might suggest…

.

But Bas tet vows that Blake’s mis tak en

.

Lines 5 & 6

.

Panthers are by far superior
Than all the old tiger hysteria.

.

Pan thers are by far su per i or
Than all the old ti ger hys ter i a
Pan thers are su per i or
To ti ger myth hys ter i a

.

And so…

.

Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright

I’m the panther in the night

Blake with tigers, he was taken

But Bastet vows that Blake’s mistaken.

Panthers are superior

To tiger myth hysteria

 

Thank you Anonymous poet No 4. Your e-book is on its way.

2 responses »

  1. Brilliant as always. I agree with all your suggestions Jackie except perhaps for leaving the unstressed beginning to the fourth line. Blake did it with:

    Could frame thy awful symmetry

    but this line was preceded by an open vowel sound (‘eye’) which allows the reader to get their tongue around the transition.

    On the other hand

    Blake with tigers, he was taken
    But Bastet vows that Blake’s mistaken.

    is hard to articulate. Is the ‘but’ necessary?

    This is not one of my favourite Blake poems. I find the near rhymes eye/symmetry a bit of a stretch.

    • Good call Jill – I think you’re right. The ‘but’ is not necessary and is a little jarring. Thanks for pointing out the ‘open’ vowel sound. I hadn’t picked up on that.

      Also – and I looked this up, apparently the pronunciation of the word ‘symmetry’ used to be ‘sim-it-try’ – just a bit of general knowledge 🙂

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