Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Queen Mab, by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I don't care for poetry. We'll just get that out there right away. I avoid reading it and always have. There are some exceptions. For example, I like some kinds of epic poetry.

I also like Little Willie poems:
Willie poisoned his father’s tea;
Father died in agony.
Mother came, and looked quite vexed:
“Really, Will,” she said, “what next?!”
I've always enjoyed Nursery rhymes:
Molly, my sister, and I fell out,
And what do you think it was all about?

She loved coffee, and I loved tea,
And that was the reason we couldn't agree!
I get a kick out of comic narratives in verse form (and I hope you're noticing all these tea references):
JIM, who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion -by Hillaire Belloc
There was a boy whose name was Jim
His friends were very good to him
They gave him tea and cakes and jam
And slices of delicious ham
And chocolate with pink inside
And little tricycles to ride
They read him stories through and through
And even took him to the zoo
But there it was the awful fate
Befell him, which I now relate.

You know (at least you ought to know
For I have often told you so)
That children never are allowed
To leave their nurses in a crowd
Now this was Jim's especial foible
He ran away when he was able
And on this inauspicious day
He slipped his hand and ran away.

He hadn't gone a yard when BANG
With open jaws a lion sprang
And hungrily began to eat
The boy, beginning at his feet
Now just imagine how it feels
When first your toes and then your heels
And then by varying degrees
Your shins and ankles, calves and knees
Are slowly eaten bit by bit
No wonder Jim detested it.

No wonder that he shouted "Ai"
The honest keeper heard his cry
Though very fat, he almost ran
To help the little gentleman
"Ponto," he ordered as he came
For Ponto was the lion's name
"Ponto," he said with angry frown
"Down sir, let go, put it down!"

The lion made a sudden stop
He let the dainty morsel drop
And slunk reluctant to his cage
Snarling with disappointed rage
But when he bent him over, Jim
The honest keeper's eyes grew dim
The lion having reached his head
The miserable boy was dead.

When nurse informed his parents they
Were more concerned than I can say
His mother as she dried her eyes
Said "It gives me no surprise
He would not do as he was told."
His father who was self-controlled
Bade all the children round attend
To James's miserable end.
And always keep ahold of nurse
For fear of finding something worse.

But here's Queen Mab, by Percy Bysshe Shelley, finding its way into my reading queue somehow. Actually, I know exactly how: I've been working on the Read Harder Book Challenge, and the first challenge listed was "A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25". Queen Mab not only fits the bill but is available free online. I love not having to buy books to meet reading challenges.

It's true that I'm much more likely to stop and read something I run across online than I'd ever be to seek it out and buy it. Especially poetry. Which I don't care for. As I may have mentioned.

Published in 1813, it was his first large poetic work and was written when he was 21. This is from the first of nine sections:
Behold the chariot of the Fairy Queen!
Celestial coursers paw the unyielding air;
Their filmy pennons at her word they furl,
And stop obedient to the reins of light;
These the Queen of Spells drew in;
She spread a charm around the spot,
And, leaning graceful from the ethereal car,
Long did she gaze, and silently,
Upon the slumbering maid.

Oh! not the visioned poet in his dreams,
When silvery clouds float through the wildered brain,
When every sight of lovely, wild and grand
Astonishes, enraptures, elevates,
When fancy at a glance combines
The wondrous and the beautiful,-
So bright, so fair, so wild a shape
Hath ever yet beheld,
As that which reined the coursers of the air
And poured the magic of her gaze
Upon the maiden’s sleep.
from section three:
‘Fairy!’ the Spirit said,
And on the Queen of Spells
Fixed her ethereal eyes,
'I thank thee. Thou hast given
A boon which I will not resign, and taught
A lesson not to be unlearned. I know
The past, and thence I will essay to glean
A warning for the future, so that man
May profit by his errors and derive
Experience from his folly;
For, when the power of imparting joy
Is equal to the will, the human soul
Requires no other heaven.’
It hasn't converted me to a general love of poetry, of course, and it seems a bit preachy. You can read it online for yourself. Most people like poetry, after all, so the chance that others will like this one are good. I did drink a cuppa tea while I read. I looked for a cup that would be suitable, fitting the mood of a poem featuring a fairy queen:

This post has been composed in advance and scheduled to post today. I am away from my computer and unable to link to the T(ea) gathering or to visit. If you happen across this post, please pour yourself a drink and go see what's going on at the T(ea) Party going on over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog.


  1. I really do like poetry. I was amused by the Hillaire Belloc poem you posted. I have a whole book of Belloc poems, they are delightful and a real antidote to sugary sweet poems for children.


  2. I took the freedom to join you up with the other tea drinkers, hope you don´t mind. I enjoyed the verse very much, I am particularly fond of scary-funny-dead-children verse, imagine someone trying to pitch that to a publisher today... :-D

    1. T Tuesday is an open party. We don't all even drink tea ;)

      I found the dark rhymes so funny as a child, and I discovered the Little Willy verses when I was still a child. The first one I read:

      Little Willy, pair of skates.
      Hole in the ice, golden gates.

      I was hooked! lol

  3. Well Divers i have to say i'am not a huge fan of poetry either... the poetry i like has to have a few requirements... one i have to be able to understand it... two i like it to rhyme like your Jim and lion poem... i like that one... Lovely tea cup your sharing this Tday. Hugs! deb

  4. Not sure who linked you, but you have been linked. I've never been a fan of poetry, except The Charge of the Light Brigade. It's a dark tale, but I've always loved it. I did enjoy the first two ditties and they made me laugh.

    Loved, loved, loved the cup and saucer. And is that a bromiliad next to your cup?

    Thanks for sharing these poems with us, as well as your cup of tea for T this Tuesday.

  5. I am not normally a poetry fan, either. Only like very particular poems and usually prefer narrative. This one with the boy being eaten alive was hysterical! I do tend to like Emily Dickinson, though, and a few others. I shouldn't say I don't like poetry when I won a contest a few years back--LOL! It was narrative. ;) Happy T-Day! :)

  6. Nice collection of poetry with "tea" in them. I like poetry but especially enjoy the funny and clever ones that play on words. Enjoy your time away and a happy T day!