"...Jelly of Fear, which shak’d and quiv’ring lay..."I’m browsing through The Stuffed Owl: An Anthology of Bad Verse, a 1930 volume edited by D.B. Wyndham Lewis and Charles Lee. The book is mostly what the title indicates, though with the twist that instead of being truly horrible verse penned by incompetent poets, the poems are the clunkers and howlers of the greats, including Wordsworth, Keats and Byron. This is by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1624-74):
From “Nature’s Dessert”Oh my, that’s bad. (I can imagine both Biscuits of Love and Jelly of Fear being bands in Spinal Tap.) And that title suggests this is only an excerpt of an even longer piece - although (fortunately?) I haven’t been able to find the full text online.
Sweet marmalade of kisses newly gather’d,
Preserved children, which were newly father’d,
Sugar of Beauty, which melts away soon,
Marchpane of Youth, and childish macaroon:
Sugar-plum words, which fall sweet from lips,
And water-promises mould’ring like chips;
Biscuits of Love which crumble all away,
Jelly of Fear, which shak’d and quiv’ring lay:
Then was a fresh green-sickness cheese brought in,
And tempting fruit, like that which Eve made sin.
Lewis and Lee’s wry introductions to each poet are consistently wonderful, including this on Cavendish:
After the Restoration it was her steady habit to dictate metaphysical and philosophical speculations at all hours, and the ladies attending her were compelled (according to Cibber) to sleep near at hand to her Grace in order that at the summons of her bell they might rise instantly during the night to record in writing inspirations which might otherwise have been lost for ever.And what a loss that would have been.
You have a wonderfully eclectic reading range.
Posted by: Paul Lamb at Apr 21, 2013 8:04:57 PM
You call it eclectic, others would call it unfocused.
Actually, I've found that I can't read fiction at bedtime - maybe it requires more alertness and focus than I can muster when I'm tired. So instead I read nonfiction, preferably something in short sections. "The Stuffed Owl" is perfect for this, as was Kingsley Amis' "Everyday Drinking."
Posted by: Pete at Apr 22, 2013 1:45:10 PM