I entered this sonnet for a competition for an Auden parody and won. It wasn’t written as a parody, but does sound like Auden, don’t you think? The Bentley was originally a Volvo, a very un-Audenish car.
A bloody butler cycling by a lake,
A pallid lake surrounded by green willow,
A Balkan princess murdered by mistake,
Three Staunton chessmen left upon her pillow,
The puzzle of her single sapphire earring,
The bungled hold-up at the discotheque,
The abandoned Bentley burning in a clearing,
The Hognose viper coiled about her neck:
Each problem posits a unique solution,
Each boil requires a dedicated lancer,
Deft fingers must tease out each convolution,
Unlike real life there has to be an answer,
A special key to fit each special door;
Spool up the string and find your Minotaur.
For Katie studying philosophy.
Socrates, tried for corrupting young people, was
sentenced to death by the state.
Giordano Bruno was burned by the Catholic
Church—a most horrible fate!
Seneca stoically opened a vein when he
finally quarrelled with Nero.
Bonhoeffer said he was timid by nature, but
faced up to death like a hero.
Viennese Schlick was shot dead by a mad Nazi
student whose thesis he ploughed.
Pagan Hypatia, so learned and witty, got
stoned by a Christian crowd.
Yet, by and large, and it’s proven statistically,
life does philosophers proud.
Poor Gödel was fearful of poison and starved, having
lived all his life rather prissily.
Empedocles, much more intrepid, jumped into a
smoking volcano in Sicily.
Gentle Pythagoras died in a fire, or a battle,
according to source.
Whewell, the polymath Master of Trinity,
died when he fell off his horse.
Rational Condorcet, imprisoned by Robespierre, was
probably killed in his cell.
Atheist Lucretius (say Christians) took sex pills, went
mad and lies burning in Hell.
But in the main you would have to admit,
when you’re faced with the evidence,
bound to admit,
most philosophers do very well.
Shpet, the idealist phenomenologist,
perished through Stalinist thuggery.
Montague died at the hands of a boy he
procured for the purpose of buggery
Bacon caught cold stuffing snow in a chicken and
ended with scarcely a sniff.
Jevons was drowned, and Protagoras shipwrecked..
Herbrand fell off a cliff.
More and Boethius took the king’s shilling and
paid in the end with their heads.
Giovanni Gentile who praised Mussolini was
slaughtered by partisan Reds.
Still, for the most part, as might be expected,
in all probability
should be expected,
philosophers die in their beds.
I thought a palinode was an ode about something that happened way back, but actually it is an ode where you retract something you said previously, which, by a happy coincidence, still fits.
I used to like the Rolling Stones. I think
I liked the way they used to shake and shout.
I used to like to dope but now I drink
To cope without the dope I do without.
I used to like to hate the middlebrow;
I’d make the very devil of a row;
I was an intellectual little toad.
I think I thought I didn’t give a damn.
I think a lot of what I thought was crap.
I think the real me, the me I am,
No sweat (you bet)’s a better sort of chap.
I used to think I liked what now I never.
I used to like what drives me up the wall.
I used to think I was so bloody clever
And now I never think a-bloody-tall.
all poems featured on this site remains with the