Archive for the ‘poetry’ Category

I am so done with being in the middle of moving house.

We’re probably like 90% of the way through the overall, incredibly tediously and drawn-out process, if you count from the very start of the “hey let’s sell our house, oh and hey that other house looks nice let’s go and live there instead” impulse. But we’re currently stuck in an awkward interim bit where we’re moved out and into the in-laws’ guest wing, most of our stuff is boxed up, and we’re still waiting for the last bits of interminable legal wankery to be settled before we get to actually be living in our own home with our own stuff again.

I’ve got a bunch of half-started blog posts which I’ll get back to once I have a computer in a place where I can actually sit and work on things regularly again. Right now it’s sitting in an otherwise almost empty room, everything else having been packed up. The clacking of my keyboard has started echoing weirdly in here. I guess the curtains used to muffle that? I dunno.

Anyway. Christian Voice recently reminded me why I still read their blog. In an article about a suggestion to abandon the obligation for Christian assemblies in state schools, something which seems utterly bizarre that it wasn’t done years ago, they provide several unremarkable paragraphs of fairly straightforward, unemotional reporting on the objective course of events, and then completely out of nowhere they hit you with a sentence like:

However, it isn’t at all clear what ‘spiritual, moral, social and cultural’ values would qualify as ‘inclusive’ nor whom or what they could be founded on if not on the God who brought this nation victorious through two world wars.


And then a week later, they actually end up being largely in the right (though perhaps by accident) on another recent matter – the right to turn down a commission without having to justify yourself seems a fairly clear one in this case – and come up with an interesting point I don’t recall seeing in any other analysis. Could the bakery have claimed they were afraid of breaching copyright?

Also the continued insistence with which some people put the quotes around gay “marriage” is just funny.

I’ll be better at this again soon. Until then I’m getting a new kitten tomorrow so I don’t give a fuck about any of you anyway. Seeya, losers!

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Today I bring you a different kind of grumpy intolerance, and also some poetry. I’ll probably be a prosaic hippy again later.

So Twitter is this place where people like being funny and making self-referential jokes about stuff. Other shit goes on too, but it’s the bit with all the parodies and creatively amusing pop culture references I’m interested in now.

In particular, there have been any number of accounts created in the name of fictional or historical characters, which emulate their style of speaking and writing. One of my favourite examples from days of English yore is Dr Samuel Johnson, and there are plenty more of that ilk.

And while much of this is great fun to follow and join in with, you can probably guess (even if you aren’t familiar with Sturgeon’s Law that predicts it) that a lot of these accounts are crap.

I don’t want to pick on Shakespeare Lyrics in particular – there are surely numerous worse offenders out there, and there’s nothing that offensive about some dismal “songs in archaic language” – but it’s had the ill fortune of irritating me with its unimaginativeness a couple of times now. Also, it has over 30,000 follows, and got over a thousand retweets for this:

We art never, ever, ever, becoming reunited

Seriously? That’s a sufficiently authentic Shakespearean adaptation of a Taylor Swift lyric to impress over a thousand of you?

I can’t find the tweet now that first bugged me a couple of months ago (I’m not entirely certain it was the same account), but it was a fairly similar cut-and-paste job of some olde worlde vocab into a couple of lines of Sir Mixalot. More or less off the top of my head, I tweeted an example of how it’s meant to be done:

“Rebecca, such a strumpet do I spy! / A hip-hop minstrel’s wench she doth resemble!”

“A curvèd rear’s most pleasing to mine eye / On this point, ’tis beyond me to dissemble.”

Now, I’m not going crazy, that’s pretty good, right? Assuming you know the song, that’s a recognisable paraphrasing of “I like big butts and I cannot lie”, and it’s in actual iambic pentameter, right? It’s not just me?

Anyway nobody noticed because I’m not a Twitter megastar and life moved on.

Today Kirsty goaded me by retweeting another effort from the same account:

Oh Mickey thou art indeterminately divine, thou art indeterminately divine thee explode my cerebellum, greetings Mickey, greetings Mickey.


Okay, first: scientists didn’t even begin to understand the cerebellum’s function until the 1800’s, so it’s unlikely Shakespeare would have mentioned it at all, let alone used it as a casual synonym for “mind”.

Secondly, there’s still nothing that scans. You’re just swapping in some high-falutin’ words with no context and expecting us to be impressed. And thousands of people are, depressingly. Currently 8,129 retweets on that one. Fucking hell. I should start myself one of these accounts.

But mostly, this kind of thing is exactly what would run through any mentally functional person’s mind within seconds of considering how to cross the memes of “contemporary songs people like quoting” and “Shakespeare talk”. “We art never, ever, ever becoming reunited” is what you do to make an anachronism of We Are Never Getting Back Together without even trying. Anyone could do it to that level.

So I had a proper go at turning some modern pop lyrics into very loosely Shakespearean-style poetry, in a way that not just anyone could do without applying some effort, not that they’d necessarily want to. If I truly cared about my art, I’d have stretched it out into a proper sonnet, but life is short.

Dear ladies unrestrained by marriage yet:
If romance be your driving aspiration,
And someday true love falls into your net
And makes you raise your arms in celebration,
Do not risk losing what you sought so long,
And ever tighter to it you must cling.
Draw inspiration from that old love song:
Thou shouldst ensnare their digit with a ring.

That’s how we play in MY house, bitches.

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I wrote another poem. This one has a title.

(If you want to join in the comment discussion, go here.)


There’s A Theist On My Doorstep
There’s a theist on my doorstep,
And he’s asking me to look
At some godly threats and promises
Inside some holy book.

I’ve no time for fairy stories,
And I’ve heard this one before,
So I think I’ll tell him “Thank you, no,”
And simply shut the door.

For he seems a pleasant fellow,
Trying to do what he deems right,
And while his fantasies harm no-one,
There’s no need to start a fight.
There’s a theist in my village
Who’s a preacher, I’ve heard tell,
And he speaks in fiery rhetoric
Of sinners and of hell.

His dogma is offensive,
And there’s cruelty in his words,
But his congregation’s smaller
Than his shoe size by a third.

So I mostly leave him to it.
After all, it’s his free choice,
And I think he mostly talks to hear
The sound of his own voice.
There’s a theist on the internet
Whose blog is read worldwide.
He has thousands of supporters
At his feet and by his side.

But his logic is as flimsy
As his “tolerant” veneer,
So I’ve started up my own blog
Just to make a few things clear.

I doubt there’ll be much of a chance
That his mind will be changed,
But I’ll make sure only one of us
Sounds angry and deranged.
There’s a theist in my classroom
Who says Darwin got it wrong,
And we all should read the Bible,
And our faith we must keep strong.

Well I won’t sit here in silence
While the science gets distorted.
It’s the school board’s job to make sure
His indoctrination’s thwarted.

He might cry discrimination,
Though his free speech is intact,
But we won’t respect religion
When it masquerades as fact.
There’s a theist in my government
Whose deity’s expected
To provide her moral guidance,
And to get her re-elected.

Her faith, of course, is personal,
And merits little note.
But if this is how she’ll run things,
Then she’s not getting my vote.

Who knows what God will order her
On any given date?
I’d rather not entrust him with
Our economic fate.
There’s a theist on my TV
Telling gays they’re less than whole,
And unless they plead forgiveness
God will damn their evil soul.

Now I’m starting to get angry,
And I’m going to speak out.
I don’t care if it’s uncivil;
This is hatred with some clout.

Don’t you dare tell us that love’s a sin,
You smug, self-righteous twat.
No, I won’t be fucking tactful
When you’re saying shit like that.
There are theists on my planet
Who are murdering their friends,
And who torture their own children
For insane religious ends.

People die because of witchcraft,
Maybe thousands every day –
And it’s this same kind of “faith”
That makes your neighbours kneel and pray.

Mankind has done much good which had
Religious thoughts behind it.
But sometimes there’s no harm
In calling bullshit as you find it.


Update 28/10/10: Uh. Wow. I’ve closed comments on this thread for now, because I was getting really bored with them. And by bored I actually mean fantastically entertained, but I don’t get the sense it’s going anywhere useful. I’ll post something else either tomorrow or at the weekend recapping the action so far, with a completely fair and unbiased summary of why David is completely detached from reality. You can all carry on with the back-and-forth from there if you like.

Update 30/10/10: The new discussion post, with my reply to some of David’s more entertaining comments, is now up! Have at it!

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Yep. It doesn’t say anything deep or profound, it doesn’t have a title, and it doesn’t make it as clear as it could when I’m being ironic. But it fits to a rather nice meter. And I’ve already written it now, so it’s too late to do anything about it.

Incidentally, if you know what the meter is called – possibly dactylic heptameter, or something along those lines – or can think of a name for the poem itself, leave me a comment.

Update 15/10/10: The meter is slightly inconsistent between double dactyl and double amphibrach. Thanks, NFQ!



Militant atheists
Writing and lecturing
Speeches and articles
Pressing their case
And permanent smugness
Is what you see written
All over their face

Violent diatribes
Secular bigotry
Bashing religion
They can’t leave it be
Their faith is as strong
As the strongest believer’s
Their hate fills the pages
Of Comment is Free

Muslims and Christians
Have their fanatics whose
Fervours and drives
Smother compassion
Convince them that God thinks
Their zeal is more vital
Than mere human lives

In their eyes it’s noble
To kill and to torture
To punish the heathens
They’ll cross any line
Nothing could make them
Believe for a moment
Their mission’s unholy
Their cause not divine

But oh these New Atheists
Don’t they so smugly
Deride any thinkers
Not on the same page
Isn’t that basically
Just as destructive
As Islamist fury
And Taliban rage

Dawkins is hostile
And antagonistic
He says there’s no god
He’s just too in-your-face
It’s daft to suppose
He’ll convince the believers
By so unabashedly
Stating his case

Instead we should try to
Appease the fanatics
And ask them to lay off
Their heavenly war
Respecting religion
Is surely the answer
Just look at how well
It’s always worked before

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There is no good reason for presenting my thoughts like this. But it’s happening.

It goes without saying that I’m no Digital Cuttlefish. That should be clear from the start.


The blog known as Pharyngula
Is really rather singular –
From the biology lectures, to the comely Trophy Wife –
But its chief controller, PZ,
Makes this blogging lark look easy,
With uninterrupted output as he goes under the knife.

Yes, although he’s feeling sickly
This has made him no more prickly
(Though detractors say he was already crotchety enough).
As his body self-repairs,
Wish him well, but hold your prayers.
Let’s just hope he soon recovers, and stops feeling quite so rough.

So yeah. One of the biggest cheeses of science blogging and angry internet atheism is in hospital today, having his organs poked around by highly qualified professional organ-pokers. We’re being urged not to worry, but it does all sound rather dramatic.

I hope he gets better soon. Try not to fall into the eternal black void of sweet, welcoming death, PZ.

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