Expecting Rain

They chirp and they chatter
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Author:  Johanna Parker [ Fri December 20th, 2013, 14:32 GMT ]
Post subject:  They chirp and they chatter

The following bit showed up in a book search, dated 1923, but I can't find any further information about author, title, etc, or even the full poem. Does this seem familiar to anyone? Do you know where it's from?

And they chirp and they chatter,
"Now whatever is the matter?"
"And whatever is the matter," they clatter and cajole,
And it's this and it's that to a mad merry revel
Till it's seventeen hells in my poor damned soul.

Author:  smoke [ Fri December 20th, 2013, 15:06 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: They chirp and they chatter

It's interesting to think that "what does it matter" could be thought of in quotes as the thing being chattered.

seventeen hells in my poor damned soul.

would make a fine title for a live album from fall 2013.

Author:  bobschool [ Sat December 21st, 2013, 02:14 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: They chirp and they chatter

Johanna, great find, how ever did you find that?! no really do tell, --Brilliant!!

from putting your verse into google-books--

http://books.google.com/books?id=gEowAQ ... CDEQ6AEwAQ

it resulted with a poem -- "Tom O'Bedlam" by Basil Thompson
that may have that verse in it, the preview window is too small,
but google-books wouldn't give that result if that verse isn't there, i should think?...

then putting ""Tom O'Bedlam" Basil Thompson"
came Allen mentioning Bob! --

"By a knight of ghostes and shadowes" (that's as good as (Bob) Dylan, actually - or Dylan's sometimes as good as that - actually, this is very Dylan - or Dylan's "Gates of Eden" - and some of his lyrics are influenced by this particular (poem), "Tom o' Bedlam" - some of the "Gates of Eden"-era materials, because we went over this particular and a few other songs like this with Dylan (him), around '64, '65) -
http://ginsbergblog.blogspot.com/2011/0 ... edlam.html

trouble is, the line "they chirp and they chatter" is not in the anonymous 1600's version of "Tom O'Bedlam",
but i do believe it may be in the full text of the "Tom O'Bedlam" by Basil Thompson as google-books sent that verse there?
(that poem was published in the periodicals "Current Opinion" and "The Smart Set", is that where you found it?...

-- and that "the Smart Set" is hilarious!,
edited by H.L. Mencken, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Smart_Set
thank you so much for starting this thread, good wintertime Bob times!

http://books.google.com/books?id=4HhHAA ... &q&f=false

and how's this for a Bob-tool, when you put "they chirp and they chatter what does it matter"
you get this addictive book that reads awfully dylanesque!! :lol: :lol:
http://books.google.com/books?id=lFtC_s ... er&f=false

fun times, thanks!!

Author:  Mutabor [ Sat December 21st, 2013, 08:14 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: They chirp and they chatter

Thank you for this find! :D makes my holidays.

Author:  Johanna Parker [ Sat December 21st, 2013, 08:42 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: They chirp and they chatter

Thanks bobschool! :)
I'll read some more of your link later - hope we can eventually find the source of those lines.

Author:  planet drop [ Sat December 28th, 2013, 01:22 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: They chirp and they chatter

What great lines Johanna.

I can't find them.
I went searching Rimbaud's 'A Season in Hell' because of it's concerns with madness and Hell.
I discovered, what's probably common knowledge to others, that Dylan preceded me (Part 1 opens with, and is titled, "Once, if my memory serves me well").

I've just scanned the work quickly and don't think it's the source of the poem fragment you've found, but I really like these lines:

With the silent leap of a sullen beast,
I have downed and strangled every joy.
I have called for executioners;
I want to perish chewing on their gun butts.
I have called for plagues,
to suffocate in sand and blood.
Unhappiness has been my god.
I have lain down in the mud,
and dried myself off in the crime-infested air.
I have played the fool to the point of madness.

And springtime brought me the frightful laugh of an idiot.

Author:  Johanna Parker [ Sat December 28th, 2013, 10:49 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: They chirp and they chatter

Thanks for looking into this. :)

Author:  Fred@Dreamtime [ Mon December 30th, 2013, 15:47 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: They chirp and they chatter

The Louisiana editor and poet Basil Thompson (1892-1924) was a friend and colleague to many who signed the door.* Well-known in the New Orleans literary community, Thompson had his work published in nationally known magazines such as the Bookman and Smart Set, and he published two books of poetry before becoming cofounder and editor, with Julius Weis Friend, of the little magazine the Double Dealer in 1920. Printed in New Orleans, the Double Dealer published fiction, essays, and poems by many major writers. It includes frequent contributions of the lesser known Vincent Starrett, who was a good friend of Thompson's. Thompson worked on the magazine until his unexpected death from pneumonia in 1924. His signature on the door, "Sir" Basil Thompson, is a joking reference to the similarly named Sir Basil Thomson, a well-known British government official and writer.

* See http://norman.hrc.utexas.edu/bookshopdo ... item=101#1

Author:  Fred@Dreamtime [ Mon December 30th, 2013, 15:58 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: They chirp and they chatter

One of Thompson's books of poetry is online here... http://books.google.com/books/about/Aug ... gnAAAAMAAJ. Unfortunately, it doesn't contain "Tom O'Bedlam." He published at least one other book of poetry, "The Grey Men & Other Rhymes" which may have the poem.

Author:  scottw [ Tue December 31st, 2013, 02:50 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: They chirp and they chatter

I've sweet-talked snippet view into giving me the poem: https://scontent-a-sjc.xx.fbcdn.net/hph ... 0799_n.jpg

Author:  bobschool [ Tue December 31st, 2013, 06:15 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: They chirp and they chatter

Scott, the Magi, solves the caper again. thank heavens. what a great great poem.

thanks so much scott, i don't know how you do it, sweet-talking these machines and all.

Finding out the folktales and Tennessee Williams connections to "long and wasted years" means a whole big lot, thanks.

Author:  scottw [ Tue December 31st, 2013, 14:19 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: They chirp and they chatter

It is just a matter of knowing how to use tools. Another part is interpreting what the tools are telling you.

This is an interesting poem, but I'm not convinced that Dylan ever looked at it. I had looked at this last year and determined that it was something that I wouldn't feel comfortable putting in my "A Tempest Commonplace" on Pinterest. There are a few reasons. It isn't the only poem to use this type of construction. Birds chirp and chatter; it's what they do, and it's how they are described as behaving all of the time. Writers frequently describe gossips as birds who chirp and chatter. And matter rhymes with chatter—it's a go-to word.

Here are some other examples:

Chirps for the Chicks by Margaret E. Whatham from 1882 includes a poem called "Robin Redbreast". Here's a verse:

'Oh my!' exclaimed the Robin; 'why,
I wonder where they're going to fly!
How they scream, and chirp, and chatter!
Something dreadful is the matter!
https://scontent-b-sjc.xx.fbcdn.net/hph ... 4207_n.jpg

Souvenir of Modern Minstrelsy: A Collection of Original and Select Poetry by Living Writers from 1862 includes "The Linnet and the Nightingale" by W.R. Evans. The poem includes this couplet:

Till, as they argued o'er the matter,
The crowd join'd in with chirp and chatter.
https://scontent-b-sjc.xx.fbcdn.net/hph ... 0521_n.jpg

Here's another poem with "chirp and chatter" rhymed with "matter" from a 1775 issue of The Town and Country Magazine: https://scontent-a-sjc.xx.fbcdn.net/hph ... 2514_n.jpg

And another from Punch from 1884: https://fbcdn-sphotos-a-a.akamaihd.net/ ... 7100_n.jpg

There needs to be something stronger to nail down the chirp and chatter line. There are too many loose threads here. I'm not comfortable with any of these.

You pointed out two examples that impressed you - the folk tales and the lines from Tennessee Williams. In each of those examples there were multiple lines from the sources, and they were longer and much more odd.

In Talk That Talk: An Anthology of African-American Storytelling the same oral folktale has both "I just came to you because you're friend of mine" and "They said, 'What's the monkey doing out there in the sun? Oh, that monkey done lost his cool. The sun done burned that monkey's brains out.'" That's locked in tight, because there are multiple lines and the lines are so peculiar.

With the Tennessee Williams lines used on Tempest, again, it was multiple uses from the same play (or versions of the same play) coupled with previous uses of that play, and Dylan's use of the work of Tennessee Williams in general that made me get on board.

I've been reading a lot of Williams lately. The first paragraph of the forward to The Theatre of Tennessee Williams - Volume 4, which is Williams writing about writer's block, includes, "My back is to the wall and has been to the wall for so long that the pressure of my back on the wall has started to crumble the plaster that covers the bricks and mortar."

When I read that I heard "Well, my back has been to the wall for so long, it seems like it's stuck" in my head. When I thought about the possibility of Dylan doing this I considered that the in the prior verse he is clearly quoting Fitzgerald, and in the verse before that he's quoting Hemingway. So that works for me. On top of that he mentions a Williams play by name in another song on the album, which was recorded the day after he recorded "Summer Days." Then I consider his use of Orpheus Descending and The Glass Menagerie in the script of Masked and Anonymous, as well as the several times that he uses lines from Williams on Tempest, and that he quotes from A Streetcar Named Desire in "Things Have Changed" and on and on. The shifting sands start to become more concrete.

I have a big shifting sands file, but I rarely discuss any of it publicly. When it comes to these chirp and chatter examples I think they all belong in the shifting sands file for the time being.

Author:  Johanna Parker [ Tue December 31st, 2013, 17:33 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: They chirp and they chatter

scottw wrote:
I have a big shifting sands file, but I rarely discuss any of it publicly. When it comes to these chirp and chatter examples I think they all belong in the shifting sands file for the time being.

Thanks for posting those examples. Of course, you will have noticed they don't match the line Dylan uses exactly, not word by word. I'd think there's a difference between the use of similar keywords and the use of a full line without applying any changes. Of course, it still doesn't prove he read Tom O'Bedlam, but still... just saying.

Author:  planet drop [ Wed January 1st, 2014, 02:18 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: They chirp and they chatter

In any case, thanks for the introduction to Tom O Bedlam, Johanna, And thanks scott w for posting the poem. I'm going to post it in the poetry thread.

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