Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I believe this is post number 57 for my blog. All I can say is, "Wow."

While I am positive that blogpost number 57
will certainly be seen as a revelation by my friends--an occasion for joy, laughter, cherry-filled chocolates, and garlands of garter-belts, I feel that for ordinary members of the public (Mr. or Ms. J.Q. Voter, if you will), those unfamiliar with the wittiness this blog, the number 57 may prove a bit alienating, even elusive. Numerologically, it may be of no significance, but I think that this number, like many numbers, calls for a few moments of sober reflection, once the hangovers from yesterday have worn off.

Let us recognize today, March 18th, 2008, for what it really is, as it will be remembered by posterity: this is a moment never to be repeated--a moment in the History of the world much like that magical morning a novice named Newton awoke with a start under an apple tree; or the afternoon the louche, professional ladies of France yawned and rubbed their eyes during the liberation of Paris in 1945; it is an occasion of no less importance, in the universal scheme of things, than the evening of July 20th, 1969, when I, your humble author, still but a babe in swaddling clothes, an irascible raisin scarcely 3 days shy of 10 months old, slept in my portable bassinet, at Aunt Boot's house, on Ontario Avenue, in Niagara Falls, and drooled, while Neil Armstrong took his first tentative steps on the Moon. I come in Peace for all mankind.

On the occasion of my 57th blogpost, let me just say for the record, should any of my previous comments have created a contrary impression: I love everyone. I am the true candidate of Hope, and Change. I may not be running in any elections, but damn the torpedoes anyway: I intend to plunge straight into tomorrow, and blogpost 58. Tomorrow begins another chapter in the endless saga which is me, and my relation to you: the world, the world of words, and the weather. Let us us pray:

Our Father Who Art in Heaven,

Barring any natural disasters, and in honor of occasion 57, and the effusion of telegrams pouring into my desk from world leaders in regions and capitals as distant, dissonant, and seemingly unrelated as
Obama, Japan and Cicero, NY, I would like to present a poem ( a propos de rien) to my readers, by the late, great Dr. Swift, Dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin.


I have always loved this piece. Rarely, in literature, do we find a minister so empathetic, so profoundly attuned to the harsh, transient beauty of urban life.

See you tomorrow.

A Description of a City Shower
Date of publication:
17 October 1710, in 'The Tatler', no. 238.

Jonathan Swift

Careful observers may foretell the hour
(By sure prognostics) when to dread a shower.
While rain depends, the pensive cat gives o'er
Her frolics, and pursues her tail no more.
Returning home at night, you'll find the sink
Strike your offended sense with double stink.
If you be wise, then go not for to dine,
You'll spend in coach hire more than save in wine.
A coming shower your shooting corns presage,
Old aches throb, your hollow tooth will rage:
Sauntering in coffeehouse is Dulman seen;
He damns the climate and complains of spleen.

Meanwhile the South, rising with dabbled wings,
A sable cloud athwart the welkin flings;
That swilled more liquor than it could contain,
And, like a drunkard, gives it up again.
Brisk Susan whips her linen from the rope,
While the first drizzling shower is borne aslope:
Such that sprinkling which some careless quean
Flirts on you from her mop, but not so clean:
You fly, invoke the gods; then turning stop
To rail; she singing, still whirls on her mop.
Not yet the dust had shunned the unequal strife,
But, aided by the wind, fought still for life;
And wafted with its foe by violent gust,
'Twas doubtful which was rain and which was dust.
Ah! where must needy poet seek for aid,
When dust and rain at once his coat invade?
Sole coat, where dust cemented by the rain
Erects the nap, and leaves a mingled stain.

Now in contiguous drops the flood comes down,
Threatening with deluge this devoted town.
To shops in crowds the daggled females fly,
Pretend to cheapen goods, but nothing buy.
The Templar spruce, while every spout's abroach,
Stays till 'tis fair, yet seems to call a coach.
The tucked-up sempstress walks with hasty strides,
While streams run down her oiled umbrella's sides.
Here various kinds, by various fortunes led,
Commence acquaintance underneath a shed.
Triumphant Tories and desponding Whigs
Forget their feuds, and join to save their wigs.
Boxed in a chair the beau impatient sits,
While spouts run clattering o'er the roof by fits;
And ever and anon with frightful din
The leather sounds; he trembles from within.
So when Troy chairmen bore the wooden steed,
Pregnant with Greeks impatient to be freed;
(Those bully Greeks, who, as the moderns do,
Instead of paying chairmen, doth run them through)
Laocoon struck the outside with his spear,
And each imprisoned hero quaked for fear.

Now from all parts the swelling kennels flow,
And bear their trophies with them as they go:
Fillth of all hues and odors seem to tell
What street they sailed from, by their sight and smell.
They, as each torrent drives with rapid force
From Smithfield or St. Pulchre's shape their course;
And in huge confluence joined at Snow Hill ridge,
Fall from the conduit prone to Holborn Bridge.
Sweeping from butchers' stalls, dung, guts, and blood,
Drowned puppies, stinking sprats, all drenched in mud,
Dead cats, and turnip tops, come tumbling down the flood.

(As a side note, I would like add that I have only had about 5 hours sleep in the last 3 days, and the opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect opinions of the writer, his relatives, or business associates. Or that big growling goat--YOWL!)


Eshuneutics said...

Hm, Swift wasn't much of a poet. His prose is his best monument.

Shropshirelad said...

True. He is not Pope Alexander. But his poems can be fun from time to time. I like this one. It is like a Hogarth painting.

And let's not forget his description of his Nymph's toilette: a revelation in cosmetological archaeology...