Sunday, March 3, 2013

Juvenile Revenge Juvenilia

"Revenge is a dish best served cold."

The last line of this poem threatens vengeance--and here I'm delivering, seventeen years later. Wahaha.

I'm not sure who this will embarrass more--the guy who once had bad manners, or the girl who once wrote a rather bad sonnet about it. (I was sixteen at the time. Maybe seventeen. Be merciful, to both of us.)

The details are hazy, but what I recall, perhaps incorrectly, is that the young man was driving me nuts. I said not to annoy a writer, because “she might lampoon you in the press.” He didn’t believe I could churn out anything embarrassing or specific enough. I maintained I could. He challenged me to write a poem in just one lunch period—in a crowded, distracting cafeteria. I composed a Shakespeariean-style sonnet. Not a particularly good sonnet, I admit, but one that followed the basic structure. 

I did not claim at the time that this was Great Literature. I was aware that the meter was weak in places, especially in the last line, where the stress is reversed in one of the iambic feet (on “vengeance”). I was also never happy with the rhymes. Again--tight deadline.  I was pleased with the alliteration in line six, though. And the true connoisseur of our language will also note that I used the semicolon correctly.

The text reads:

Why is it that the gods above decree
That you at lunch should be so immature?
I'm constantly on edge, shouting, "Bradley,
Your childish actions I must now abjure!"
Your open mouth displays the food inside
As from my French fries and my food you steal.
And my ideas you constantly deride;
You say my world is wrong but yours is real.
You take my seat and say that it is yours,
You tease me and delight to see me blush,
You drink your root beer (or perhaps your Coors?)
And then to flirt with girls away you rush.
Oh, if you could but learn this simple thing--
That if you don't behave, vengeance I'll bring!

Recently someone unearthed a poem by Charlotte Bronte, written when she was thirteen. This article is about how "serious" collectors love acquiring juvenilia (or "immature" works from an artist's youth). Well, here you go, though I doubt it would fetch $67,000 at auction.

You can see my rough draft with working notes and revisions on the top. Potential rhymes down the side. My final draft is written more neatly on the bottom.

One would think that the threat of a similar fate would keep my own sons in line. Sadly, it has had no effect whatsoever on their disgusting boy behaviors. That’s okay. I can wait another fifteen or twenty years for some serious vengeance. (Wahaha.)

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