Thursday, May 10, 2018

A European excursion

...Who are you? I ? Or really anyone else to judge them?
~R.M. Engelhardt, talking about poetry slams

Poetic fun from the Netherlands, Wales, and the medieval era today.

StAnzaPoetry shared this on Twitter:
At a Dutch poetry slam and they are genuinely voting with tulips.
It gets better: when they were down to two finalists, the audience members gave their tulip to their favourite poet, and the one with the largest bouquet won!

Apparently this is standard in the Netherlands, but normally the flowers are roses.


Did you know that May 14th is Dylan Thomas Day? In Dylan Thomas' radio drama Under Milk Wood, the audience gets a glimpse of the dreams and private thoughts of the inhabitants of a fictional Welsh fishing village called Llareggub ("bugger all" backwards). (Note: "Bugger all" is a rude/informal way to say "nothing")


In addition to celebrations of Dylan Thomas, in Wales you can also find the gravestone of John Renie who died in 1832 at age 33. The gravestone features a 285-letter acrostic puzzle which is reputed to read 'here lies John Renie' in 46,000 different ways.


Our last bit today is about a song of sixpence. Actually THE song of sixpence -- it seems like it's nonsensical, but actually has a grain of truth to it! Here's how it goes, in case you've forgotten:

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing;
Wasn't that a dainty dish,
To set before the king.

The king was in his counting house,
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlour,
Eating bread and honey.

The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird
And pecked off her nose.

That was the version I knew, but apparently sometimes this ending verses are used:

They sent for the king's doctor,
who sewed it on again;
He sewed it on so neatly,
the seam was never seen.


There was such a commotion,
that little Jenny wren
Flew down into the garden,
and put it back again.

by Alfred Kappes

History Undressed explains that in medieval times, pies were different. They were thicker, and you could bake a crust "pot" and lid and then put live birds (or rabbits, frogs, dogs, or poetry-reciting dwarves) in so they could fly/jump out and entertain your guests. (Some of these "pot pies" must have been enormous!)


Jama's Alphabet Soup has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Jama! Maybe Jama has talked about bird pies before?

Last call for the Summer Poem Swap! I have heard from a lot of people already and am eager to make the chart!


Robyn Hood Black said...

Oh, Tabatha, how fun! Tulips?!! Having just discovered in my ancestral adventures that my dad's side of the family came from THE NETHERLANDS, not Britain like we thought, I just love that. (The Ancestry DNA color chart seems to take in that far bit of Europe in the "Great Britain" blob!) Some Welsh on Mom's side, so yay for the Dylan Thomas celebration. I will miss the Swap this year - :0( - because of our own little "European Excursion" - but look forward to seeing gifts written and sent and shared. Thanks for all!

Linda B said...

What a prize to receive flowers instead of a trophy. I wonder where it started. There are many kinds of tombstones and eccentric or humorous words. This one you've shared invites lots of 'long' visits, doesn't it? Perhaps the intent? Those 'ends' to Song of Sixpence are new to me, and it is fun to hear about the pie surprises. Glad you reminded me about the swap. I had forgotten-busy week! Thanks!

Michelle Kogan said...

How do you like those pies, that's some entertainment–I might not want to eat after that. That tulip fanfare at the slam, what fun! Thanks for the tip on Dylan Thomas Day, didn't know about it.That's quite a tombstone too, hope he made it to wherever he wanted to end up, lovely thanks Tabatha!

jama said...

Such a fun smorgasbord of goodness. Yes, I blogged about some of those bird pies a long time ago. Fascinating stuff. Love the idea of giving flowers to favorite poets, and I didn't realize May 14 was Dylan Thomas Day.

Kay said...

I love the idea of giving tulips--or roses--to favorite poets/poems! How can we get that started over here? I enjoyed the history of the blackbird pies and the tour from across the pond.

Christie Wyman said...

I'm now officially obsessed with Renie's tombstone. How cool is that! So much fascinating info here, Tabatha. Very excited for the poetry exchange! Cheers!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Poetry-reciting dwarves, eh? Who woulda thunk it?! Clearly I know bugger all about poetry-reciting dwarves. ;) Such interesting tidbits you found for us today. I probably SHOULD have known 5/14 is Dylan Thomas Day since our own Dylan (also a May baby) was, in part, named after him. Also good to know about Llareggub, because, well, why not???

Brenda Harsham said...

How about Poetry-reciting children? That gravestone was fascinating. A bird in the pie is worth two in the... sky. :-)

Tabatha said...

I don't think medieval bakers used poetry-reciting children, but they did also mention that sometimes musicians were in there. !!! (For some reason my imagination goes straight to musicians with double basses and other enormous instruments, but they probably had penny whistles, right?)

Catherine Flynn said...

I love the idea of voting with flowers! And thank you for the background on Sing a Song of Sixpence and Dylan Thomas. "And thou, I know, wilt be the first to see our best side, not our worst" are words to take to heart. Thank you!

Mary Lee said...

What a fun little trip to Europe!!

Tara Smith said...

I love the idea of voting with flowers! We sang that last verse as children, and I remember thinking how macabre the whole idea of baking live birds was...but your little history tidbit teaches me that this was indeed a practice!