#AtoZChallenge: Q

Q is for Quangle Wangle

This challenge seems to be featuring a lot of Edward Lear!

The Quangle Wangle’s Hat

BY EDWARD LEAR
I
On the top of the Crumpetty Tree
      The Quangle Wangle sat,
But his face you could not see,
      On account of his Beaver Hat.
For his Hat was a hundred and two feet wide,
With ribbons and bibbons on every side
And bells, and buttons, and loops, and lace,
So that nobody ever could see the face
            Of the Quangle Wangle Quee.
II
The Quangle Wangle said
      To himself on the Crumpetty Tree, —
“Jam; and jelly; and bread;
      “Are the best of food for me!
“But the longer I live on this Crumpetty Tree
“The plainer than ever it seems to me
“That very few people come this way
“And that life on the whole is far from gay!”
            Said the Quangle Wangle Quee.
III
But there came to the Crumpetty Tree,
      Mr. and Mrs. Canary;
And they said, — “Did every you see
      “Any spot so charmingly airy?
“May we build a nest on your lovely Hat?
“Mr. Quangle Wangle, grant us that!
“O please let us come and build a nest
“Of whatever material suits you best,
            “Mr. Quangle Wangle Quee!”
IV
And besides, to the Crumpetty Tree
      Came the Stork, the Duck, and the Owl;
The Snail, and the Bumble-Bee,
      The Frog, and the Fimble Fowl;
(The Fimble Fowl, with a corkscrew leg;)
And all of them said, — “We humbly beg,
“We may build out homes on your lovely Hat, —
“Mr. Quangle Wangle, grant us that!
            “Mr. Quangle Wangle Quee!”
V
And the Golden Grouse came there,
      And the Pobble who has no toes, —
And the small Olympian bear, —
      And the Dong with a luminous nose.
And the Blue Baboon, who played the Flute, —
And the Orient Calf from the Land of Tute, —
And the Attery Squash, and the Bisky Bat, —
All came and built on the lovely Hat
            Of the Quangle Wangle Quee.
VI
And the Quangle Wangle said
      To himself on the Crumpetty Tree, —
“When all these creatures move
      “What a wonderful noise there’ll be!”
And at night by the light of the Mulberry moon
They danced to the Flute of the Blue Baboon,
On the broad green leaves of the Crumpetty Tree,
And all were as happy as happy could be,
            With the Quangle Wangle Quee.

#AtoZChallenge: K

Keats
John Keats ( 31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821)

K is for Keats: John Keats the romantic poet.

He is one of my favourites, and has been since my early teens.

I love his poetry, of course, and when I first read about him, I was attracted by the tragedy of his early death, and the sad story of his love affair with Frances Brawne (portrayed with heartbreaking perfection in the film Bright Star), but then I discovered his letters and fell even deeper in love.

What has impressed me the most about Keats is how seriously he took his role and responsibilities as an older brother. His letters to his sister, Fanny, are sweet, and I especially love this poem he wrote for her:

There Was a Naughty Boy

There was a naughty boy,
A naughty boy was he,
He would not stop at home,
He could not quiet be–
He took
In his knapsack
A book
Full of vowels
And a shirt
With some towels–
A slight cap
For night cap–
A hair brush,
Comb ditto,
New stockings
For old ones
Would split O!
This knapsack
Tight at’s back
He rivetted close
And followed his nose
To the north
To the north
And followed his nose
To the north.

There was a naughty boy
And a naughty boy was he,
For nothing would he do
But scribble poetry–
He took
An ink stand
In his hand
And a pen
Big as ten
In the other,
And away
In a pother
He ran
To the mountains
And fountains
And ghosts
And posts
And witches
And ditches
And wrote
In his coat
When the weather
Was cool,
Fear of gout,
And without
When the weather
Was warm–
Och the charm
When we choose
To follow one’s nose
To the north,
To the north,
To follow one’s nose
To the north!

There was a naughty boy
And a naughty boy was he,
He kept little fishes
In washing tubs three
In spite
Of the might
Of the maid
Nor afraid
Of his Granny-good–
He often would
Hurly burly
Get up early
And go
By hook or crook
To the brook
And bring home
Miller’s thumb,
Tittlebat
Not over fat
Minnows small
As the stall
Of a glove,
Not above
The size
Of a nice
Little Baby’s
Little fingers-
O he made
‘Twas his trade
Of fish a pretty kettle
A kettle–
A kettle
Of fish a pretty kettle
A kettle!

There was a naughty boy
And a naughty boy was he,
He ran away to Scotland
The people for to see–
Then he found
That the ground
Was as hard,
That a yard
Was as long,
That a song
Was as merry,
That a cherry
Was as red–
That lead
Was as weighty,
That fourscore
Was as eighty,
That a door
Was as wooden
As in England–
So he stood in his shoes
And he wondered,
He wondered,
He stood in his shoes
And he wondered.

It is not a fine poem, but is perhaps more precious than his many famous works of genius because they gives us a glimpse of Keats, not the great English poet, but the young man and loving big brother who wanted to make his little sister laugh.

#AtoZChallenge: J

J is for Jumblies.

‘Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.’

The Jumblies

BY EDWARD LEAR
I
They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,
   In a Sieve they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say,
On a winter’s morn, on a stormy day,
   In a Sieve they went to sea!
And when the Sieve turned round and round,
And every one cried, ‘You’ll all be drowned!’
They called aloud, ‘Our Sieve ain’t big,
But we don’t care a button! we don’t care a fig!
   In a Sieve we’ll go to sea!’
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.
II
They sailed away in a Sieve, they did,
   In a Sieve they sailed so fast,
With only a beautiful pea-green veil
Tied with a riband by way of a sail,
   To a small tobacco-pipe mast;
And every one said, who saw them go,
‘O won’t they be soon upset, you know!
For the sky is dark, and the voyage is long,
And happen what may, it’s extremely wrong
   In a Sieve to sail so fast!’
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.
III
The water it soon came in, it did,
   The water it soon came in;
So to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet
In a pinky paper all folded neat,
   And they fastened it down with a pin.
And they passed the night in a crockery-jar,
And each of them said, ‘How wise we are!
Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long,
Yet we never can think we were rash or wrong,
   While round in our Sieve we spin!’
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.
IV
And all night long they sailed away;
   And when the sun went down,
They whistled and warbled a moony song
To the echoing sound of a coppery gong,
   In the shade of the mountains brown.
‘O Timballo! How happy we are,
When we live in a sieve and a crockery-jar,
And all night long in the moonlight pale,
We sail away with a pea-green sail,
   In the shade of the mountains brown!’
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
     Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.
V
They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,
   To a land all covered with trees,
And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart,
And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart,
   And a hive of silvery Bees.
And they bought a Pig, and some green Jack-daws,
And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws,
And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree,
   And no end of Stilton Cheese.
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.
VI
And in twenty years they all came back,
   In twenty years or more,
And every one said, ‘How tall they’ve grown!’
For they’ve been to the Lakes, and the Torrible Zone,
   And the hills of the Chankly Bore;
And they drank their health, and gave them a feast
Of dumplings made of beautiful yeast;
And everyone said, ‘If we only live,
We too will go to sea in a Sieve,—
   To the hills of the Chankly Bore!’
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.
***
‘A lovely Monkey with lollipop paws.’

Jaya, Jaya, Jaya

This piece by Malaysian poet Salleh Ben Joned celebrates the colourful and playful names of old Malaysian towns and villages. In contrast there are the prosaic and formulaic names of new townships. Below the original work, I have added translations of the Malay words.

MALAYAKU

Sebatang sajak konkrit untuk Lat.

Aku amat rindukan:

Tanjung Penawar

Kampung Seronok

Rantau Abang

Janda Baik

Gertak Sanggul

Bukit Katil

Lubuk Cina

Teluk Panglima Garang

Batang Melaka

Batang Berjuntai

Batang Besar

Banting

Gelang Patah

Tumpat

Pedas

Pulau Bunting

 

Aku lemas dan layu

di tengah-tengah:

Petaling Jaya

Damansara Jaya

Desa Jaya

Ampang Jaya

Subang Jaya

Kelana Jaya

Putrajaya

Cyberjaya

 

MY MALAYA

A concrete poem for Lat. (Lat is a popular Malaysian satirical cartoonist.)

My heart longs for:

Tanjung Penawar (Cape of Consolation)

Kampung Seronok (Gleeful Village)

Rantau Abang (Brother Land)

Janda Baik (Good Widow, or perhaps even Kind-hearted Divorcee)

Gertak Sanggul (I find this hard to translate. ‘Gertak’ means bluster and ‘sanggul’ means hair bun. It is supposed to refer to a bouncing up do.)

Bukit Katil (Hammock Hill, or without alliteration, Bed Hill)

Lubuk Cina (Chinese Pond. ‘Lubuk’ may also mean sinkhole or whirlpool.)

Teluk Panglima Garang (Fierce Warrior Bay. Panglima is also an official military title, equivalent if ‘commander’.)

Batang Melaka (‘Batang’ means stick or even river, but it provokes much sniggering because it’s slang for penis. Batang Melaka may refer to the Melaka river, or a large tree, or, in jest, Melaka’s official ‘member’.)

Batang Berjuntai (Lots of merriment over this place name as ‘berjuntai’ means dangling.)

Batang Besar (‘Besar’ is big, therefore you can imagine the schoolboy jokes.)

Banting (‘Banting’ means, variously, convulse, toss, and thresh. It is an agricultural town, or used to be, but I don’t think paddy is grown here.)

Gelang Patah (Broken Bracelet)

Tumpat (Dense)

Pedas (Spicy)

Pulau Bunting (Pregnant Island)

 

But I am depressed and discouraged

when I am in:

Petaling Jaya (‘Petaling’ refers only to the district and the city. It is not based on any Malay word.)

Damansara Jaya (‘Damansara’ refers to the river that runs from Sungai Buloh to Shah Alam.)

Desa Jaya (‘Desa’ means countryside.)

Ampang Jaya (‘Ampang’ means dam.)

Subang Jaya (‘Subang’ means earring.)

Kelana Jaya (‘Kelana’ means wanderer or wayfarer.)

Putrajaya (‘Putra’ means prince.)

Cyberjaya (well, you know what ‘Cyber’ means.)

(The suffix ‘jaya’ means success or prosperity or to thrive. It is, as you can tell, a popular suffix for the names of new townships and neighbourhoods. Used repeatedly, it has become meaningless. The delightful Batang Berjuntai has been renamed Bestari Jaya, ‘bestari’ meaning smart or skilled. Ho-hum.)

 

Waving, Wavering Flags

THE RIGHT WORD

Outside the door,
lurking in the shadows,
is a terrorist.
Is that the wrong description?
Outside that door,
taking shelter in the shadows,
is a freedom fighter.
I haven’t got this right .
Outside, waiting in the shadows,
is a hostile militant.
Are words no more
than waving, wavering flags?
Outside your door,
watchful in the shadows,
is a guerrilla warrior.
God help me.
Outside, defying every shadow,
stands a martyr.
I saw his face.
No words can help me now.
Just outside the door,
lost in shadows,
is a child who looks like mine.
One word for you.
Outside my door,
his hand too steady,
his eyes too hard
is a boy who looks like your son, too.
I open the door.
Come in, I say.
Come in and eat with us.
The child steps in
and carefully, at my door,
takes off his shoes.

~ Imtiaz Dharker