Friday, February 5, 2010

a pig from epicurus' herd


Although I speak without a velvet tongue,
because unlike the angels I am raucous,
let these words as my epitaph be sung:
“Like Horace, epicuri de grege porcus.”

This isn’t meant to prove the fact I am
the apikoros rabbis’ texts describe ;
the fact is that I’ve never eaten ham,
which makes me a close member of my tribe.

Frederic Raphael reviews the 17th edition of “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations,” by John Bartlett and Justin Kaplan (Little Brown) in the Los Angeles Times Book Review (December 15, 2002). The book fails to cite Cyril Connolly’s, “Narcissus with his pool before him,” or his “It’s closing time in the gardens of the west”. Raphael suggests that Connolly’s epitaph should have been Horace’s description of himself, which means “a pig from Epicurus’ herd,” which might apply to me too when I forget to chew my cud.

The Vorlage of this poem written with the same title has a number of other poems written by friends, listed below:
Linda responded to this poem with her own:

It's when the nuts appear I watch the weather,
It's Scotch and crisps, not walks across the heather;
If you hog out you won't look like a feather,
And gourmet tastes won't turn your heels to leather.

Dave Leonard, recalling our walk in the rain on Hampstead Heath in November, wrote:

Sooner stay snug with food between the teeth
Than walk in water upon Hampstead Heath!

I replied:

I disagree, for when one's walking palily
it feels like walking on the Sea of Galilee.

Dave replied:

I can't deny your argument is strong;
The space between our meetings far too long.
True, recollection of the golden talk
Will gild the leaden skies above our walk.

I replied:

From our walk it seems we got much mileage,
Like dumpser divers sifting through the silage.
Gilding skies above when they are leaden
appeals to me, because I am a hedon:
hand in hand let’s talk of Epicurus
though promised bluer skies by other gurus.

Linda wrote:

Two poets met one day on Hampstead Heath,
The clouds above, the puddles underneath,
They read their poems and they laughed and sighed,
They were not published but the two had tried;
Then came the rain and washed their words away
So they held hands and walked. They were both gay.

Dave replied:

When I in China justice was dispensing
The Cantonese for gay foreplay was 'fencing'.
Men from my background take a different stand:
We Irish do our fighting hand to hand.

I replied:

In sano corpore with sana mens
I do not think you’re sitting on the fence,
but do you really act just like the Irish
when usqebae has made your spirit firish?
For when the spirit by the storms is tossed
and flesh is craving for a sharp riposte,
and Irish, like the Chinese, hold your hand
the bottom line must be to make one stand.

To this Dave replied:

The reference to bottom I deplore;
For me the bearded oyster comes before.
Yet when the lack of woman you can't stand
For perfect pleasure I can recommend the hand.

On the other hand, Linda wrote:

Now finally my dear you have me floored;
As if the oil upon the waters poured,
When all goes calm and boring like a lake,
Yet if you'd put the water on to slake
The bubbling oil, it would have caused my brain
To sparkle with some further comments, train
Of thoughts much sprinkled with some wit and salt
But it just won't. It's Eng/Lat Ed's fault.

I replied to Dave:

Unhand me, gentlemen, or I will make a ghost
of those who judge me with one more riposte.
To care about the gender of the geisha
is not politically correct, Horatio.

Linda responded:

I sometimes pen an answer to my hub,
And sometimes you who joined the poets' club,
I've got no more to say but "There's the rub"
If I write more you'll see I'm going to flub,
So farewell walks and words and fencing hands,
Adieu old Hampstead, puddles, Chinese lands,
Goodnight to rhymes and times with rain and sands
Of time, I'm jumping in the bath oils


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