Thursday, 26 June 2014

There was a sage in days of yore

One of our set books at school was Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray.(1811 - 1863). It was always a pleasure when our homework was to read a couple of chapters of this lovely book. I read it twice before the term was over. It has since been made into a film with Reese Witherspoon in the role of Becky Sharp, the main character.  Thackeray had to write the book in instalments for a newspaper which must have made it more difficult to produce such a masterpiece. It seems that Thackeray thought he was going to inherit a vast fortune and carelessly gambled his money away.He didn't inherit anything after all and so had to write to make a living. In spite of this, along with 'Middlemarch' by George Eliot (1819 - 1880),it is considered to be one of the finest novels in the English language. Thackeray is mainly known for 'Vanity Fair' and 'Barry Lyndon',  made into a film by Kubrick starring Ryan O'Neal. He did however write many other novels, essays, articles and poems and comes across as a warm.hearted, witty and affectionate man who had quite a difficult private life. I was thinking of one of his best known poems today while I was playing with my grand-daughter and her Disney princesses. Much to her amazement one of the princes has a long pony tail and so I told her that a long time ago this was the rule for men. Even in the seventies long hair was popular for men but it wasn't widely approved of. Now of course anything goes and no-one would dream of  noticing long or short hair. Anyway here is Thackeray's poem. I hope you like it.

A Tragic Story

There lived a sage in days of yore,
And he a handsome pigtail wore,
But wondered much and sorrowed more
Because it hung behind him.

He mused upon this curious case
And swore he'd change the pigtail's place
And have it hanging at his face,
Not dangling there behind him.

Says he, 'The mystery I've found
says he, 'The mystery I've found
I'll turn me round, he turned him round
But still it hung behind him.

Then round and round and out and in,
All day the puzzled sage did spin,
In vain - it mattered not a pin,
The pigtail hung behind him,

And right and left and round about
And up and down and in and out,
He turned, but still the pigtail stout
Hung steadily behind him

And though his efforts never slack
And though he twist and twirl and tack
Alas! Still faithful to his back
the pigtail hangs behind him.

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