Pastiche Poems #2

Prisma-Somerset Bruton1

A pastiche, created in PRISMA, of a painting of my own of Bruton, Somerset, England


Following on from my opening outline of Pastiche Poetry (see my blog of two days ago titled ‘Pastiche Poetry’ ), and my blog of yesterday (  Pastiche Poetry #1 ),  here are more of my own efforts (you may call them concoctions or confections if you’d rather) which I have based on the well-known opening lines of six different poets  . . .


Leisure, W.H.Davies …

What is this life
If full of care
We must still put up
With Tony Blair.

A Red Red Rose, Robert Burns …

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose
That blossoms in the summer;
I think of her without her clothes,
Prickly, but a stunner.

The Lady of Shalott, Alfred Lord Tennyson …

On either side the river lie 
Long fields of barley and of rye;
Oh tell me why, Yes tell me why,
This bloody river’s running dry.

Song to Celia II, Ben Jonson …

Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
I’ve had enough of diet coke
I want a glass of blood red wine.

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time, Robert Herrick …

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
It’s time to settle down and wed,
You’ll find it satisfying.

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, Thomas Gray …

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
It’s time to tell you Mister Thomas Gray
To quit this grandiose hyperbole.



Pastiche Poetry

[  # 77of My Favourite Short Poems  ]


A pastiche, created in PRISMA, of a painting of my own of Aberaeron,  Ceredigion, West Wales.

pastiche is a creation of visual art, poetry, literature, theatre, or music that imitates the style or character of the original work.  A pastiche poem  imitates the form, style, and often the subject matter, of an original poem.  A parody also does this, but, unlike a parody, a pastiche is not written to mock or satirize the original poem, but it is written in a spirit of respect for the original.

I have used such a poem before when I included, in one of my blogs, Brian Patten’s poem ‘Mary had a bit of Lamb’.  It is a pastiche version of the nursery rhyme composed by the American writer, Sarah Josepha Buell Hale (1788 – 1879), which Patten first published in his book, ‘Thawing Frozen Frogs’.  See my earlier blog:  Mary’s Lamb

Perhaps my favourite poem in this style is Spike Milligan’s:

I must go down to the sea again, 
to the lonely sea and the sky;
I left my shoes and socks there – 
I wonder if they’re dry? 

Yes, that is just what a pastiche poem is.  Often short and commencing with the traditional opening of the original, usually well-known verses, which it is intended to imitate, but with altered context, frequently with humorous intention.  Of course, there is a fine line to be drawn between pastiche, which can border on parody, or even bowdlerisation (See definition).


I recently came across, on my surfing travels, the following brief (two-line) examples which are the work of a Harvard academic, Francis DiMenno  (1979).   Here is a selection from  his longer poem he calls: ‘MY FUZZY VALENTINE’ . . .

‘The Passionate Shepherd to His Love’, By Christopher Marlowe

Come live with me and be my love, 

I’ll even come and help you move. 

‘Upon Julia’s Clothes’, by Robert Herrick

Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
I hope she owns some less expensive clothes

‘On the Tombs in Westminster Abbey’, by Francis Beaumont

Mortality behold, and fear,
We’re almost out of bottled beer. 

‘Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part’, by Michael Drayton

Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part 
There’s never been an argument you wouldn’t start.

‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’, by Thomas Gray

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, 
And now it’s time to squander all my pay. 

‘Spring, the sweet spring’, by Thomas Nashe

Spring, the sweet Spring, is the year’s pleasant king, 
And Sammy, Frank, and Dean go Ring-a-Ding-Ding.


Over this coming week I will present a selection of my own attempts at this style, hoping that in doing so I offend no one, including the artistic sensibilities of those poets, living or dead, whose memorable opening lines have suggested these alternatives to me.


Love and Wisdom

Robert Herrick

Bust portrait of Robert Herrick, 17th century English poet,  from a rare print by W Marshal


One of the great love poems in the English language is Robert Herrick’s (1591 – 1674) poem ‘To Sylvia , to Wed’.   The poem was published in 1674 in a collection of Herrick’s poems called ‘Hesperides’.  You will find a transcription of it at:   The last line of this extremely short poem is . . .

“No Man can at one time be wise and love.” 

The truth of these words by Herrick have often struck me, and I have been led to compose the following poem to amplify my thoughts on the beauty of the words and the wisdom which they hold . . .


Love and Wisdom

Great truth lies here
For love consumes the soul
Drives out the rational
In favour of those headstrong thoughts
Those unconsidered deeds
Which couple love with lust
And joy with pain
Breaching reason
As a burst dam
Floods life’s valleys
As the wildfire strips life’s undergrowth
Devouring what it most values
In the thoughtless rush and swell
Of its inflamed ardour