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Stephen Fry Book Discussion.

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[Feb. 16th, 2006|10:41 pm]
Stephen Fry Book Discussion.


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So I imagine a lot of you have read The Ode Less Travelled by now, and if so you must be getting quite a good collection of poetry together. So long as you haven't been skipping the exercises. I've been doing them religiously (unfortunately my poem on the Spenserian stanza was not so much about the Spenserian stanza but about me bitching at Stephen for making me write a poem on the Spenserian stanza). Right now I'm on the chapter about ballads, and I just finished that chapter's exercise. I thought it might be fun to read each other's ballads! I want to read other people's anyway.

The exercise was to finish this ballad Stephen started:

Now gather round and let me tell
The tale of Danny Wise
And how his sweet wife Annabelle
Did suck out both his eyes.

And if I tell the story true
And if I tell it clear
There’s not a mortal one of you
Won’t shriek in mortal fear.

Mine somehow turned into an animal rights allegory. I'm very sorry about that. But here it is anyway.

The Ballad of Danny Wise

Now gather round and let me tell
The tale of Danny Wise
And how his sweet wife Annabelle
Did suck out both his eyes.

And if I tell the story true
And if I tell it clear
There’s not a mortal one of you
Won’t shriek in mortal fear.

He charmed the girls, did Danny Wise,
A truly dashing creature.
But all agreed that Danny’s eyes
Were his very finest feature.

All the ladies swooned to see
Their clear and piercing hue
“Ain’t never seen,” they said with glee
“A guy with eyes that blue.”

Young Danny met his Annabelle
One wet October night
In the tavern of the Woods Hotel,
If I remember right.

He was passing through this very town --
A touring balladeer,
A country singer of renown.
He’d stopped to have a beer.

The first time he spied the lovely lass
He did it from afar
When he caught her eye in the looking glass
That hung behind the bar.

Alone in a shaded corner she sat
And smoke rings wreathed her head.
He approached her (for he loved a chat).
“I’m Danny Wise,” he said.

As pretty as a diamondback,
Her like he’d seldom seen.
Her silky hair was blackest black,
Her eyes were greenest green.

And though she hadn’t said a word,
He knew she was upset.
So he sat with her and held her hand
And lit her cigarette.

She said she was a poor dollmaker
With nothing to her name,
The widow of an undertaker.
She hung her head in shame.

“I only sell a doll or two
Once in a long, long while.
But all the children say they’re pretty,”
She said with a sheepish smile.

And through the night, while he sat, rapt,
She flattered Danny Wise.
“I’ve never seen a man,” she said,
“With such fantastic eyes.”

Danny felt his heartbeat quicken;
It was love at first sight.
He never knew that soon he’d rue
That fateful, fearful night.

“Look,” he said, “I don’t make much,
But still, at least it’s some.
I’ll do right by you, Annabelle.
I ain’t no singing bum.”

And with that young Danny Wise
He got down on one knee
And gave the girl a real surprise:
“Will you marry me?”

And without a second’s thought
Annabelle said yes.
To me it seems a hasty choice,
But that’s young love, I guess.

But oh, the rumors the townsfolk sowed
If only he’d have heard!
“She sure does go through men,” they crowed.
“He’ll be her twenty-third!”

And all the town showed up the day
He took her down the aisle
He gave his last red cent to pay
The preacher, with a smile.

They lived as one, as man and wife
For many happy weeks.
He sang in bars to earn his keep;
She whittled tiny cheeks.

From oak, from linen, and from fleece
She carved and sewed and spun
And soon her wooden masterpiece
Was close to being done.

And then one night fair Annabelle
Was smiling quietly,
For there was no way he could tell
She’d poisoned his evening tea.

They sat, the two, in sweet embrace
Upon the davenport,
‘Til a deathly pallor spread o’er his face
And his breath grew pained and short.

“I hate to have to tell you, dear,
But you’re about to die.
I suppose you’d be upset with me
If I didn’t tell you why.

“There’s part of you I really need
To make my doll complete.
It’s all for looks – an unkind deed,
But the children think it’s neat.

“I’m sorry, Dan,” his lover purred
And claimed her gruesome prize.
No one knew and no one heard
The screams of Danny Wise.

Her method, though revolting, was
Ingenious, in fact.
She used no sharp and jagged tools.
It left the eyes intact.

She spit the pair of bloody gems
Into her bloody hand.
The crimson liquid ran and stained
Her golden wedding band.

She rinsed them off and plunked them both
Into a preservative bath,
And stretched out Danny’s body
Back beside her garden path.

She covered him with autumn leaves
And set them all alight,
“Poor Danny,” whispered Annabelle
“Just won’t come home tonight.”

“We had a terrible, nasty quarrel.
He’s left me all alone.
He’s run off with a chorus girl.
Once more I’m on my own.”

And that was just the gloomy tale
She told to the police.
And she never did unveil
That Danny rests in peace.

And soon the springtime came around,
And at the county fair,
In a booth with all her masterworks
Annabelle was there.

There was mysterious appeal
About each and every doll,
But one face in particular
Stood out among them all.

“Oh, mommy,” cried a girl in green,
“I want that one! I do!
He looks so real! And I’ve never seen
A doll with eyes so blue!”

You might not believe this story, friends.
It is far-fetched, I know.
But I’ll say one thing before it ends
And you pay your tabs and go.

If you ever see a tiger-skin rug
In a shop and think it’s chic,
Or if you’re ever inclined to hug
An ivory antique,

If you’re tempted by a trash can
Made from an elephant’s leg,
Or an all-mink floor-length caftan
Makes you fall to your knees and beg,

If you think that a severed rabbit’s paw
Would make a lucky prize…
Won’t each and every one of you
Please think of Danny Wise?

So what happened to him in your versions? I must know. Post them. Post them all!

[User Picture]From: molegirl
2006-02-17 09:58 am (UTC)
That's great! I love a nice gruesome tale! I can just hear it being read by Gelliant Gutfright! LOL!

I also have to admit to be very curious about your poem bitching at Stephen – you should post it. :)
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[User Picture]From: fryphile
2006-02-17 02:34 pm (UTC)
Gutfright! XP What fun!

Devilishly delightful ballad, my dearest Stephen.
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[User Picture]From: weaselwoman13
2006-02-17 07:26 pm (UTC)
Why, thank you, Stephen, love! XD
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[User Picture]From: weaselwoman13
2006-02-17 07:27 pm (UTC)
Ha! Gelliant would love it. Of course, Hugh would play Danny. Such blue, blue eyes...

Maybe I will! It's quite short. Watch this space!
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[User Picture]From: molegirl
2006-02-17 08:16 pm (UTC)
I was thinking of Hugh as I read it as well... :D

I'll look forward to it. ;)
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[User Picture]From: weaselwoman13
2006-02-17 09:37 pm (UTC)

The Spenserian Stanza

Now, here's a challenge -- thank God it's the last.
For his sake I intend at least to try,
But my patience with it's waning fast.
The subject matter seems so blasted dry.
The things I do for bloody Stephen Fry!
Although the form's undoubtedly a good one,
To write about it yields a tired sigh.
Hold on -- it seems the poem's nearly done.
How about that. Well, thank you, Stephen. That was fun.

XD And it was, too.
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[User Picture]From: molegirl
2006-02-17 09:45 pm (UTC)
I think I love you!!!

That was so good!

The things I do for bloody Stephen Fry!

I find myself saying that pretty much everyday! LOL!

I really should pick up this book. :)
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[User Picture]From: weaselwoman13
2006-02-17 09:59 pm (UTC)
I really should pick up this book.

And you haven't by now? And you live over in Britland where you can actually buy the thing in a shop instead of having to go to Amazon Marketplace and wait two weeks for it to be shipped across the vast Atlantic to you?!

*sheep-like cough of disapproval*

But seriously, it's so worth it! ;)
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[User Picture]From: truly_bohemian
2006-02-17 08:54 pm (UTC)
That is so brilliant! I am very envious of anyone who writes good poetry. I try but I'm not good at all. I have to get back to reading the book... I was thinking that it would be better to practice over the summer but this is making me want to start up again!
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[User Picture]From: weaselwoman13
2006-02-17 09:41 pm (UTC)
Aw, you can do it! All it takes is a bit of patience and tweaking and counting syllables out loud and sitting there going "Purple, Curple, Wurple, Lurple..." like Alan Davies. Stephen is your copilot! Write, write!

I would recommend starting it up again. For me, it's a good book to carry around campus all the time because I can work diligently on Stephen's exercises in my notebook and it just looks like I'm taking copious notes...
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[User Picture]From: truly_bohemian
2006-02-17 09:59 pm (UTC)
I think I might just do that! In between reading chapters of Howards End and The Time Traveller's Wife. Oh, and college work...

I actually noted down two words that (nearly) rhymed a few months ago and I've been desperate to get them into a poem. The only thing is, what links "Celibate" and "Boba Fett"?
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[User Picture]From: weaselwoman13
2006-02-17 10:03 pm (UTC)
Hahaha! I don't know, but you HAVE to use it somehow!
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[User Picture]From: truly_bohemian
2006-02-17 10:12 pm (UTC)
Maybe he's taken to seducing Jedi? This is turning into some bizarre Casanova/Star Wars crossover narrated by Stephen in my head. ^_^o
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[User Picture]From: stomperforclay
2006-05-09 10:12 pm (UTC)
Love your attempts weaselwoman! I've just begun listening to the book and I love it. I'm doing the exercises too. And at work, which makes them that much more fun. It's like composing dangerous work in secret!

I would HIGHLY recommend listening to the audiobook! The ideas and lessons about rhythm are so much clearer when you can hear him reading the poems and going da-DUM! Plus, who wouldn't want to listen to Stephen!

I shall share some of my works when I've got them nearby.
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