Wodehouse poets: I have got dyspepsia

In approximately 25 minutes, I will be heading off to explore P.G. Wodehouse locations in Shropshire, on route to the wedding of a Wodehouse lover called Bill. To mark the occasion, I’d like to share my favourite ‘Wodehouse’ poem — presented as the work of Lancelot Mulliner in ‘Came the Dawn’. I wanted this to be read at my own wedding, but the celebrant bucked.

DARKLING (A Threnody)
By L. BASSINGTON MULLINER
(Copyright in all languages, including the Scandinavian)

Black branches,
Like a corpse’s withered hands,
Waving against the blacker sky:
Chill winds,
Bitter like the tang of half-remembered sins;
Bats wheeling mournfully through the air,
And on the ground
Worms,
Toads,
Frogs,
And nameless creeping things;
And all around
Desolation,
Doom,
Dyspepsia,
And Despair.
I am a bat that wheels through the air of Fate;
I am a worm that wriggles in a swamp of Disillusionment ;
I am a despairing toad;
I have got dyspepsia.

from: Came the Dawn (Meet Mr Mulliner)

36 thoughts on “Wodehouse poets: I have got dyspepsia”

  1. I, for one, feel like I want to eat a breakfast pickle upon reading this but seeing as how I haven’t any idea what a breakfast pickle is, one is stymied.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely the best description of how to go about Jeeves and Wooster. As I am about to embark onto those stories it is the perfect primer. Thanks Honoria Plum.

    John

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I can’t boast any natural talent. My memory is so poor I can’t remember what I had for breakfast…or even if I had breakfast. It was as a determined experiment that I forced some poems into the grey cells….nothing quite like a but of learning parrot fashion (I mean, hey, it works fine for the parrot).

        Just wanted to say that if you are still in the UK, there is an excellent theatrical play of Jeeves of Wooster doing the rounds..may be worth a look-see.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. What Ho again! Yes, I saw the play just before Christmas — gift to self — have written a little review of it here. Loved it. It wasn’t what I expected (I didn’t know it was a play of the Code of the Woosters until they started playing) but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Have you had a chance to see it?

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      1. This is an extract from a comment made at Miss Darcy’s Library (http://www.missdarcyslibrary.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/midnight-melodrama) by limr (http://www.asalinguist.com) which I thought was fascinating.

        The article is just as interesting – especially as most of the authors Parker mentions are no longer known, unlike herself. I especially like the snippet that she took over as drama critic at ‘Vanity Fair’ from our old friend Plum!

        ‘An excerpt from an interview with Dorothy Parker:

        “INTERVIEWER: Do you think Hollywood destroys the artist’s talent?

        PARKER: No, no, no. I think nobody on earth writes down. Garbage though they turn out, Hollywood writers aren’t writing down. That is their best. If you’re going to write, don’t pretend to write down. It’s going to be the best you can do, and it’s the fact that it’s the best you can do that kills you. I want so much to write well, though I know I don’t, and that I didn’t make it. But during and at the end of my life, I will adore those who have.”

        http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4933/the-art-of-fiction-no-13-dorothy-parker

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s the P. G. Wodehouse interview I found on the same site that really struck a chord. His approach has got me wondering if I could write some sort of novel after all and I’m trying to work my thoughts on this into a little aside on my ‘advice on writing articles’. (I posted part two of this a couple of days ago.)

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      3. Thanks Victoria — I loved you piece and have commented there. I have seen the Paris Review article before, but it’s one that’s always worth reading again. His advice about treating characters like actors is one that has always stuck with me. It makes good sense. I also like the insights into Wodehouse’s home life: ‘His wife, Ethel, or his sister-in-law, Helen, did the worrying for him.’ What a difference that would make for a writer!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Re: Parker – I find it interesting too that she’s so associated with the Alonquin Round Table (it’s always DP and the circle at the ART, whenever anyone references it) and yet she herself says that she didn’t actually go there that often because it was so expensive.

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      5. Thank you so much for your lovely, thoughtful comment on my post! I seem to have spent most of my life finding answers only through time-consuming and costly mistakes – so if I can help others short-cut through similar dilemmas it’ll be something!

        Yes, it would absolutely marvellous to have someone else to do all the worrying for you! I’ve always thought it was a question of earning enough money to employ someone (I’ve always rather liked the American assistant model) but I suppose a spouse would do equally as well. I wonder if it’s a male/female thing though – the supportive earthbound wife/mistress of the Artist trope?? Oh, well, we can dream …

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Here are two of my fave poetry-related moments:

    But he did not waver. He was in no mood to read MacBean’s masterpiece that night. In the twenty minutes of silence after leaving Miss Forrester he had realized that “Grace” rhymes with “face”, and he wanted to sit alone in his study and write poetry. The two men parted with a distant nod. I beg your pardon? Yes, you are right. Two distant nods. It was always a failing of mine to count the score erroneously.”

    — “A Woman is Only a Woman,” in The Clicking of Cuthbert


    ‘You really love me, Annabelle?’

    ‘Yes, Mordred.’

    ‘Sir Murgatroyd,’ said Mordred formally, ‘I have the honour to ask you for your daughter’s hand. I am only a poor poet …’

    ‘How poor?’ asked the other, keenly.

    ‘I was referring to my Art,’ explained Mordred. ‘Financially, I am nicely fixed.”

    –“The Fiery Wooing of Mordred,” Young Men in Spats

    Liked by 1 person

      1. As always, the master (well, the *other* master) captures the comic timing perfectly:

        [audio src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/6418638/I%27m%20only%20a%20poor%20poet.m4a" /]

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry if that got bungled. Just copy the url from “https..” through to “….m4a” and paste it in your browser. It should start playing the short audio file 🙂

    [audio src="https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/6418638/I%27m%20only%20a%20poor%20poet.m4a" /]

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Nice to hear that creative juices continue to spring forth unabated. It would be a privilege to assist you in any way I can!

        Meanwhile, I have taken the liberty of re-blogging your wholesome post on Desert Island Pickings. Just could not resist the temptation. Hope it is not taken amiss.

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