Sunday, 7 January 2007

Bad scene

Writing the other day about a Mongol helmet topped off in a singularly unpleasant manner, I was reminded that for a long time I have been trying to find the full version of a poem of which only one verse has, for some reason, stuck in my mind.

O hark to the screams of the wounded and dying...
A mother who takes a last lingering look
At her infant aloft, understandably crying
Impaled on the spear of a Bashi Bazook

I can find no trace of it on the internet. Can anyone out there help? Can it be a serious poem or is it a parody?

(The Bashi Bazook were irregular Turkish cavalry and I think the poem described the aftermath of some terrible battle in the Levant.)

[See HERE for the full version and details of the source]


Machiavelli said...

Slightly misquoted - the original runs as follows:
'Oh hark to the groans of the wounded and dying, / Of the mother who casts a last lingering look / At her infant aloft, understandably crying, / Impaled on the spear of a Bashi Bazook.'
It's from a poem called Drayneflete Revisited by Osbert Lancaster. I'm pretty sure that it's intended to be humorous.

Tony said...

Yes, Macchiavelli, that's all very well, and years ago I read Lancaster's book Drayneflete Revealed and could have remembered the lines from there if they appeared in it. But how do you know? Do you have a copy?

Tony said...

P.S. I see that my local library has a copy so I'll take it out and check.

David Tappan said...

Did you ever find out if this quote is in Drafyneflete Revealed? Given the topic of that book, it seems implausible that it would be in there. I learned this passage while studying Ancient Greek in college--it was given as an example of participle with an ambiguous antecedent--i.e., who is crying?

Tony said...

Why yes, David. In a later post (7 Jan 2007), I confirmed that the poem is indeed a parody by Osbert Lancaster, supposed to have been written by a Miss Amelia de Vere, which appears in Draynflete Revisited.