2018年7月29日 星期日

Don Marquis's Archy and Mehitabel

Everyman's Library

Poet and journalist Donald Robert Perry Marquis was born in Walnut, Illinois on this day in 1878.
"The Tom-Cat" by Don Marquis
At midnight in the alley
A Tom-cat comes to wail,
And he chants the hate of a million years
As he swings his snaky tail.
Malevolent, bony, brindled
Tiger and devil and bard,
His eyes are coals from the middle of Hell
And his heart is black and hard.
He twists and crouches and capers
And bares his curved sharp claws,
And he sings to the stars of the jungle nights
Ere cities were, or laws.
Beast from world primeval,
He and his leaping clan,
When the blotched red moon leers over the roofs,
Give voice to their scorn of man.
He will lie on a rug to-morrow
And lick his silky fur,
And veil the brute in his yellow eyes
And play he's tame, and purr.
But at midnight in the alley
He will crouch again and wail,
And beat the time for his demon's song
With the swing of his demon's tail.

"what the ants are saying" (1935) by Don Marquis

dear boss i was talking with an ant
the other day
and he handed me a lot of
gossip which ants the world around
are chewing over among themselves

i pass it on to you
in the hope that you may relay it to other
human beings and hurt their feelings with it
no insect likes human beings
and if you think you can see why
the only reason i tolerate you is because
you seem less human to me than most of them
here is what the ants are saying

it wont be long now it wont be long
man is making deserts of the earth
it wont be long now
before man will have used it up
so that nothing but ants
and centipedes and scorpions
can find a living on it
man has oppressed us for a million years
but he goes on steadily
cutting the ground from under
his own feet making deserts deserts deserts

we ants remember
and have it all recorded
in our tribal lore
when gobi was a paradise
swarming with men and rich
in human prosperity
it is a desert now and the home
of scorpions ants and centipedes

what man calls civilization
always results in deserts
man is never on the square
he uses up the fat and greenery of the earth
each generation wastes a little more
of the future with greed and lust for riches

north africa was once a garden spot
and then came carthage and rome
and despoiled the storehouse
and now you have sahara
sahara ants and centipedes

toltecs and aztecs had a mighty
civilization on this continent
but they robbed the soil and wasted nature
and now you have deserts scorpions ants and centipedes
and the deserts of the near east
followed egypt and babylon and assyria
and persia and rome and the turk
the ant is the inheritor of tamerlane
and the scorpion succeeds the caesars

america was once a paradise
of timberland and stream
but it is dying because of the greed
and money lust of a thousand little kings
who slashed the timber all to hell
and would not be controlled
and changed the climate
and stole the rainfall from posterity
and it wont be long now
it wont be long
till everything is desert
from the alleghenies to the rockies
the deserts are coming
the deserts are spreading
the springs and streams are drying up
one day the mississippi itself
will be a bed of sand
ants and scorpions and centipedes
shall inherit the earth

men talk of money and industry
of hard times and recoveries
of finance and economics
but the ants wait and the scorpions wait
for while men talk they are making deserts all the time
getting the world ready for the conquering ant
drought and erosion and desert
because men cannot learn

rainfall passing off in flood and freshet
and carrying good soil with it
because there are no longer forests
to withhold the water in the
billion meticulations of the roots

it wont be long now It won’t be long
till earth is barren as the moon
and sapless as a mumbled bone

dear boss i relay this information
without any fear that humanity
will take warning and reform



A selection of the best of the hilarious free-verse poems by the irreverent cockroach poet Archy and his alley-cat pal Mehitabel. Don Marquis’s famous fictional insect appeared in his newspaper columns from 1916 into the 1930s, and he has delighted generations of readers ever since. A poet in a former life, Archy was reincarnated as a bug who expresses himself by diving headfirst onto a typewriter. His sidekick Mehitabel is a streetwise feline who claims to have been Cleopatra in a previous life. As E. B. White wrote in his now-classic introduction, the Archy poems “contain cosmic reverberations along with high comedy” and have “the jewel-like perfection of poetry.” Adorned with George Herriman’s whimsical illustrations and including White’s introduction, our Pocket Poets selection—the only hardcover Archy and Mehitabel in print—is a beautiful volume, and perfectly sized for its tiny hero.

READ an excerpt from the introduction by E.B. White
here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/…/the-best-of-archy-and…/


Marquis's best-known creation was Archy, a fictional cockroach (developed as a character during 1916) who had been a free-verse poet in a previous life, and who supposedly left poems on Marquis's typewriter by jumping on the keys. Archy usually typed only lower-case letters, without punctuation, because he could not operate the shift key. His verses were a type of social satire, and were used by Marquis in his newspaper columns titled "archy and mehitabel"; mehitabel was an alley cat, occasional companion of archy and the subject of some of archy's verses. The archy and mehitabel pieces were illustrated by cartoonist George Herriman, better known to posterity as the author of the newspaper comic Krazy Kat. Other characters developed by Marquis included Pete the Pup, Clarence the ghost, and an egomaniacal toad named Warty Bliggins.

Marquis was the author of about 35 books. He co-wrote (or contributed posthumously) to the films The Sports Pages, Shinbone Alley, The Good Old Soak and Skippy. The 1926 film The Cruise of the Jasper B was supposedly based on his 1916 novel of the same name, although the plots have little in common.

Digital image of the dust jacket of Hermione and her Little Group of Serious Thinkers, an early work of humour, produced in 1916 (early edition, hardcover).
1912: Danny's Own Story (novel)
1915: Dreams & Dust (poems)
1916: Cruise of the Jasper B. (novel)
1916: Hermione and Her Little Group of Serious Thinkers (sketches)
1919: Prefaces (essays)
1921: The Old Soak and Hail and Farewell (sketches) Dramatized 1921, 1926, 1937.
1921: Carter and Other People (short stories)
1921: Noah an' Jonah an' Cap'n John Smith (poems, sketches)
1922: Poems and Portraits (poems)
1922: Sonnets to a Red-Haired Lady and Famous Love Affairs(poems)
1922: The Revolt of the Oyster (short stories)
1924: The Dark Hours (play) This story of the trial, passion and crucifixion of Jesus had its professional premiere on 14 March 1932 at the Maryland Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland. Bretaigne Windustdirected the University Players with a cast of more than 50, which included Joshua Logan as Caiaphas, Charles Crane Leatherbee as Pilate, Henry Fonda as Peter, and Kent Smith as Jesus. The play subsequently opened on Broadway on 14 November 1932 and ran 8 performances. See, Houghton, Norris. But Not Forgotten: The Adventure of the University Players, New York, William Sloane Associates: 1951, pp. 285–6.
1924: Pandora Lifts the Lid (novel)
1924: Words and Thoughts (play)
1924: The Awakening (poems)
1927: Out of the Sea (play)
1927: The Almost Perfect State (essays)
1927: archy and mehitabel (poems, sketches)
1928: Love Sonnets of a Cave Man (poems)
1928: When the Turtles Sing (short stories)
1929: A Variety of People (short stories)
1930: Off the Arm (novel)
1933: archys life of mehitabel (poems, sketches)
1934: Master of the Revels (play)
1934: Chapters for the Orthodox (short stories)
1935: archy does his part (poems, sketches)
1936: Sun Dial Time (short stories)
1939: Sons of the Puritans (novel)
1940: the lives and times of archy and mehitabel (omnibus)
1946: The Best of Don Marquis (omnibus)
1978: Everything's Jake (play)
1982: Selected Letters of Don Marquis (letters) Edited by William McCollum Jr.
1996: archyology (poems, sketches) Edited by Jeff Adams.
1998: archyology ii (poems, sketches) Edited by Jeff Adams.
2006: The Annotated Archy and Mehitabel (poems, sketches) Edited by Michael Sims.