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Old February 21st 16, 01:03 PM posted to rec.games.chess.misc
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Default James Russell Lowell's Poem about Morphy, 1859

Arnold Shoenberg in his superb boom Grandmasters of Chess mentions a long poem about Paul Morphy by a known author called James Russell Lowell. God knows where he saw it, but I had never read it in its entirety until yesterday. It was transcribed from its original source and can be seen at https://zanchess.wordpress.com/2016/...-banquet-poem/
Here is the text, thanks to Zanchess.

What do you think?

**********

James Russell Lowell's Poem at the Morphy Banquet.

Boston, May 31, 1859.

[Dr. O. W. Holmes in the Chair.]

As I rise, Mr. Autocrat, grim with despair,
And bow to you smiling complacently there,
May I ask, while I cant my drained mind for its dregs,
What's the good of a chair that tilts folks on their legs,
When they feet, from the top of their skulls to the floor,
As sure as a gimlet to turn out a bore?
Can I hope, fishing out my dried jokes from my pocket,
Cause I rise like a stick, I may come down a rocket?

Has a man any right, who comes after comes after some folks,
To dream of succeess with his verses or jokes?
Will Fancy's aid him, or Thought's mining gnomes,
Who speaks after Emerson, rhymes after Holmes,
Two wizards from whom, if it had any nous,
An earthquake might learn how to bring down a house?
When Harvard has men here, savans of such fame,
They'd give Nature a bishop and then win the game,
What can I hope to say, seeing those all around
On whose speech wisdom waits as the echo on mound,
Whose silence is not the dull thought-sleep of churis,
But the shell of the secret that's mother of pearl?
Is not Agassix here, with his great dome of thought,
The State house where Nature's own statutes seen wrought.
Who, give but a scale, can construct you the shark,
That turned up his sidelong pig-eye at the Ark,
With a hope that his jaws, as they shut with a slam,
Might sandwich a leg or a shoulder of Ham,
And who'd make a green turtle (he talks so persua-
sively) rush off to pot for the good of his race?
Is not Pierce there beside him, whose soul all ears,
For the rhythmical cadence of balancing spheres,
Who traces God's footprints on star-sands that beach
Lone gulfs of the Infinite baffling thought's reach.
Who on night's golden rosary, planet impearied,
Tells his aves and credos each least bead a world.
And who, the first term of the problem but given,
Could predict every move on the chesboard of Heaven?

I confess since you said to me "James, you'll be there,
And be really to answer a call from the chair?"
I have tried my poor skull with perpetual scratch,
To as little avail as an old sulphur match,
The ingredient was wanting, whatever it is
(You know, Mr. Chairman) that goes with a fizz.
One should have a percussion-cap over his hair,
when come down on like this by old cocks in the chair,
To go on with a pop at the very first hint,
Nor wait to shake priming nor pick at the flint;
Whereas my brain's planned like an ancient queen's-arm
That thinks before starting and then does no harm,
Except to the lad who contrives to unhitch
the rusty old trigger and stands at the breach;
As we bards on compulsion are floored oftentimes
By the heavy recoil of our lead-laden rhymes-
Once I thought, "for a change in the programme, suppose,
You give give them a bit of palaver in prose?
For, though morphine should chance to surcharge the oration,
'Twould be all the better and suit the occasion,'
But the muse jogged my elbow with counsel averse,
And Weller-like, whispered me, "You can do worse."
So verse I've begun with, though where I bring up
Is a matter, at present, betwixt lip and cup;
I am more in dark as to where I am bound
Than the good prophet, Jonah of old, when he found
He was being dead-headed (some comfort, at least)
By the whale's alimentary canal, for the East--
First instance on record, and last, too, I guess,
of the Belly Transit performed with success.
Then what am I here for? I came with the rest,
To take a good stare at our eminent guest,
For we've an owl's notion, what looks make us wise,
As is wit, like potatoes, were bred by the eyes;
Besides, I had also come right to expect
Met-a-Morphy-sis here which I would not neglect;
I might come as a bore, and believe me a scion
Of the lion's own stock if I drink with the lion.

A true dinner-speech, I conceive, is a way
Of gracefully having your nothing to say,
And when you have said it, or knowing 'tis said,
And so without bother just shutting your head;
I know I've said mine, and will give up the ghost
After one little mouthful of rhyme-buttered toast.

I give you the men, wheresoe'er born and bred,
Who win in the tough race of life by a head,
Who prove the time's coming, howe'er far away,
When the forehead that's broadest will carry the day,
And chiefly our guest, who has shown that the wreath
Need not turn us so often, the head underneath,
That a poison of jealousy, meanness, or quarrel,
Is not always distilled from the leaves of the laurel,
I give you the man who can think out and dare
His bloodless Marengos on twelve inches square,
Yet so modest, the conquered all feel that they meet
With a Morphy -- and not mortifying defeat.
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Old February 21st 16, 01:40 PM posted to rec.games.chess.misc
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Default James Russell Lowell's Poem about Morphy, 1859

On Sunday, 21 February 2016 13:03:10 UTC, Offramp wrote:
Arnold Shoenberg in his superb boom Grandmasters of Chess mentions a long poem about Paul Morphy by a known author called James Russell Lowell. God knows where he saw it, but I had never read it in its entirety until yesterday. It was transcribed from its original source and can be seen at https://zanchess.wordpress.com/2016/...-banquet-poem/
Here is the text, thanks to Zanchess.

What do you think?

**********

James Russell Lowell's Poem at the Morphy Banquet.

Boston, May 31, 1859.

[Dr. O. W. Holmes in the Chair.]

As I rise, Mr. Autocrat, grim with despair,
And bow to you smiling complacently there,
May I ask, while I cant my drained mind for its dregs,
What's the good of a chair that tilts folks on their legs,
When they feet, from the top of their skulls to the floor,


When their feet...

As sure as a gimlet to turn out a bore?
Can I hope, fishing out my dried jokes from my pocket,
Cause I rise like a stick, I may come down a rocket?

Has a man any right, who comes after comes after some folks,
To dream of succeess with his verses or jokes?


To dream of success...

Will Fancy's aid him, or Thought's mining gnomes,
Who speaks after Emerson, rhymes after Holmes,
Two wizards from whom, if it had any nous,
An earthquake might learn how to bring down a house?
When Harvard has men here, savans of such fame,


savans of such fame, surely a misprint in the paper for "savants"?

They'd give Nature a bishop and then win the game,
What can I hope to say, seeing those all around
On whose speech wisdom waits as the echo on mound,
Whose silence is not the dull thought-sleep of churis,


....churls.

But the shell of the secret that's mother of pearl?
Is not Agassix here, with his great dome of thought,


Agassiz: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Agassiz

The State house where Nature's own statutes seen wrought.
Who, give but a scale, can construct you the shark,
That turned up his sidelong pig-eye at the Ark,
With a hope that his jaws, as they shut with a slam,


Jaws and sharks, small laugh.

Might sandwich a leg or a shoulder of Ham,
And who'd make a green turtle (he talks so persua-
sively) rush off to pot for the good of his race?
Is not Pierce there beside him, whose soul all ears,
For the rhythmical cadence of balancing spheres,
Who traces God's footprints on star-sands that beach
Lone gulfs of the Infinite baffling thought's reach.
Who on night's golden rosary, planet impearied,


Impearled...

Tells his aves and credos each least bead a world.
And who, the first term of the problem but given,
Could predict every move on the chesboard of Heaven?


I confess since you said to me "James, you'll be there,
And be really to answer a call from the chair?"
I have tried my poor skull with perpetual scratch,
To as little avail as an old sulphur match,
The ingredient was wanting, whatever it is
(You know, Mr. Chairman) that goes with a fizz.
One should have a percussion-cap over his hair,
when come down on like this by old cocks in the chair,


Cocks!!

To go on with a pop at the very first hint...

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Old February 22nd 16, 08:21 AM posted to rec.games.chess.misc
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Default James Russell Lowell's Poem about Morphy, 1859


Nor wait to shake priming nor pick at the flint;
Whereas my brain's planned like an ancient queen's-arm
That thinks before starting and then does no harm,
Except to the lad who contrives to unhitch
the rusty old trigger and stands at the breach;
As we bards on compulsion are floored oftentimes
By the heavy recoil of our lead-laden rhymes-
Once I thought, "for a change in the programme, suppose,
You give give them a bit of palaver in prose?
For, though morphine should chance to surcharge the oration,
'Twould be all the better and suit the occasion,'
But the muse jogged my elbow with counsel averse,
And Weller-like, whispered me, "You can do worse."
So verse I've begun with, though where I bring up
Is a matter, at present, betwixt lip and cup;
I am more in dark as to where I am bound
Than the good prophet, Jonah of old, when he found
He was being dead-headed (some comfort, at least)
By the whale's alimentary canal, for the East--
First instance on record, and last, too, I guess,
of the Belly Transit performed with success.
Then what am I here for? I came with the rest,
To take a good stare at our eminent guest,
For we've an owl's notion, what looks make us wise,
As is wit, like potatoes, were bred by the eyes;
Besides, I had also come right to expect
Met-a-Morphy-sis here which I would not neglect;
I might come as a bore, and believe me a scion
Of the lion's own stock if I drink with the lion.

A true dinner-speech, I conceive, is a way
Of gracefully having your nothing to say,
And when you have said it, or knowing 'tis said,
And so without bother just shutting your head;
I know I've said mine, and will give up the ghost
After one little mouthful of rhyme-buttered toast.

I give you the men, wheresoe'er born and bred,
Who win in the tough race of life by a head,
Who prove the time's coming, howe'er far away,
When the forehead that's broadest will carry the day,
And chiefly our guest, who has shown that the wreath
Need not turn us so often, the head underneath,


Need not turn, as so often, the head...

That a poison of jealousy, meanness, or quarrel,
Is not always distilled from the leaves of the laurel,
I give you the man who can think out and dare
His bloodless Marengos on twelve inches square,
Yet so modest, the conquered all feel that they meet
With a Morphy -- and not mortifying defeat.


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Old February 29th 16, 03:37 AM posted to rec.games.chess.misc
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Default James Russell Lowell's Poem about Morphy, 1859

On Sunday, February 21, 2016 at 9:40:25 PM UTC+8, Offramp wrote:

Cocks!!

To go on with a pop at the very first hint...


Good deconstruction, but this poetry was a bit too convoluted to follow. I often wonder if people spoke as stilted back in the 19th century as they wrote.

What dis:

"A true dinner-speech, I conceive, is a way
Of gracefully having your nothing to say,
And when you have said it, or knowing 'tis said,
And so without bother just shutting your head;
I know I've said mine, and will give up the ghost
After one little mouthful of rhyme-buttered toast."

WTF? Some kind of mild insult about the host not speaking, just turning his head to indicate something? Maybe Morphy was not a talker? Then the poet dies after speaking a line of his poetry?

Crazy mf'ers. Worse than a poetry slam.

RL
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