A Poetic Jeweller

The following is an extract of a poem composed by Timothy Whitenose, alias Jemmy Jewell, an eighteenth-century jeweller in London: Old Charon, bring over one of thy best wherries, Here’s a soul just arriv’d from the famous Bob Derrie’s, The summons of Styx, perhaps he may hear, Tho’ to ladies of London he lent a […]

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An Unsolvable Riddle?

The following riddle appeared on the April 25, 1868 edition of Once a Week. It was claimed by the anonymous composer of the riddle that it is insoluble: When from the ark’s capacious round, The world went forth in pairs, Whose ready ears first heard the sound Of boots. upon the stairs? The riddle was somehow attributed […]

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Rhyming van Gogh

People have been arguing on how to pronounce Vincent van Gogh’s surname for years (even when there’s really nothing to debate about). An amusing little verse composed by Joe Ecclesine titled “Van Gogh, Van Gogh, Van Gogh” is an apt illustration of this: It seems rather rough On Vincent Van Guff, When those in the […]

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An Acrostic on Napoleon Bonaparte

A professor at Dijon, France composed the following acrostic on Napoleon right after the Allies had stormed through the town on January 19, 1814 during the Napoleonic Wars, which allowed its populace to declare in favor of its legitimate sovereign: Nihil fuit; Augustus evenit; Populos reduxit; Orbem disturbavit; Libertatem oppressit; Ecclesiam distraxit; Omnia esse voluit; […]

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Gleanings from the Past #71

Keynes on Newton I believe that the clue to his mind is to be found in his unusual powers of continuous concentrated introspection. A case can be made out, as it also can with Descartes, for regarding him as an accomplished experimentalist. Nothing can be more charming than the tales of his mechanical contrivances when […]

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A Hidden Double Acrostic

In the October 10, 1885, issue of Golden Days, a Mrs. Harris contributed the following ingenious verse with two acrostics (one of them is partially hidden) without sacrificing either meter or rhyme: He squanders recklessly his cash In cultivating a mustache; A shameless fop is Mr. Dude, Vain, shallow, fond of being viewed. ‘Tis true […]

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Quotable #71: Sleight of Hand

As lookers-on feel most delight, That least perceive the Juggler’s Slight, And still the less they understand, The more th’ admire his Slight of Hand. — Samuel Butler, Hudibras, 1684

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Wallace Stevens’ Letter to His Wife

Shortly after receiving an award, American poet Wallace Stevens (1879-1955) penned a letter to his wife Elsie on July 19, 1916: Eminent Vers Libriste Arrives in Town: Details of Reception St Paul, Minn. July 19, 1916. Wallace Stevens, the playwright and barrister, arrived at Union Station, at 10.30 o’clock this morning. Some thirty representatives of […]

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Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” in “N Plus 7” Oulipo

In 1999, Harry Matthews presented an “Oulipian” rendition of Wordsworth’s poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” during a lecture on the Oulipo in Key West, Florida. Matthews belonged to the group, “Oulipo” or OuLiPo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle) which translates to Workshop of Potential Literature. Oulipo is a French-based group interested in creating works […]

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A Secured House

Image: “Modern bust of Catullus on the Piazza Carducci in Sirmione”, Wikimedia The following epigram illustrates an amusing play on words. It was written by Gaius Valerius Catullus (c. 84 BC – c. 54 BC), a Roman poet during the late Roman Republic, and was translated by Theodore Martin from Latin in The Poems of Catullus, 1861. […]

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