S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen

Poetry Lite

Many years ago, my father introduced me to a delightfully witty, silly poetic version of Bluebeard.

How the Helpmate of Blue-Beard Made Free with a Door
by Guy Wetmore Carryl

A maiden from the Bosphorus,
With eyes as bright as phosphorus,
Once wed the wealthy bailiff
Of the caliph
Of Kelat.
Though diligent and zealous, he
Became a slave to jealousy.

(Considering her beauty,
'Twas his duty
To be that!)

When business would necessitate
A journey, he would hesitate,
But, fearing to disgust her,
He would trust her
With his keys,
Remarking to her prayerfully:
"I beg you'll use them carefully.
Don't look what I deposit
In that closet,
If you please."

It may be mentioned, casually,
That blue as lapis lazuli
He dyed his hair, his lashes,
His mustaches,
And his beard.
And, just because he did it, he
Aroused his wife's timidity:
Her terror she dissembled,
But she trembled
When he neared.

This feeling insalubrious
Soon made her most lugubrious,
And bitterly she missed her
Elder sister
Marie Anne:
She asked if she might write her to
Come down and spend a night or two,
Her husband answered rightly
And politely:
"Yes, you can!"

Blue-Beard, the Monday following,
His jealous feeling swallowing,
Packed all his clothes together
In a leather-
Bound valise,
And, feigning reprehensibly,
He started out, ostensibly
By traveling to learn a
Bit of Smyrna
And of Greece.

His wife made but a cursory
Inspection of the nursery;
The kitchen and the airy
Little dairy
Were a bore,
As well as big or scanty rooms,
And billiard, bath, and ante-rooms,
But not that interdicted
And restricted
Little door!

For, all her curiosity
Awakened by the closet he
So carefully had hidden,
And forbidden
Her to see,
This damsel disobedient
Did something inexpedient,
And in the keyhole tiny
Turned the shiny
Little key:

Then started back impulsively,
And shrieked aloud convulsively --
Three heads of girls he'd wedded
And beheaded
Met her eye!
And turning round, much terrified,
Her darkest fears were verified,
For Blue stood behind her,
Come to find her
On the sly!

Perceiving she was fated to
Be soon decapitated, too,
She telegraphed her brothers
And some others
What she feared.
And Sister Anne looked out for them,
In readiness to shout for them
Whenever in the distance
With assistance
They appeared.

But only from her battlement
She saw some dust that cattle meant.
The ordinary story
Isn't gory,
But a jest.
But here 's the truth unqualified.
The husband wasn't mollified
Her head is in his bloody
Little study
With the rest!

The Moral: Wives, we must allow,
Who to their husbands will not bow,
A stern and dreadful lesson learn
When, as you've read, they 're cut in turn.

A song on Radio Paradise a few minutes ago mentioned the Bosphorus, and suddenly the first verse of the Bluebeard poem was traipsing around my head.

What are all the other verses? I couldn't remember; but what are search engines for, if not to supply the verses to rather obscure poetry? And so it was I found that Guy Wetmore Carryl, American humorist and poet, published the poem in 1902 in his poetic collection Grimm Tales Made Gay.

Go on. If you liked the one I posted here, you know you want to read more of them.

(I particularly like his version of Little Red Riding Hood.)

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