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Sunday, 30 December 2012

Henry Carey: Namby-Pamby


The Visit to the Nursery: Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1775, oil on canvas, 73 x 92 cm (National Gallery of Art, Washington)
.....Nauty Pauty Jack-a-Dandy
.....Stole a Piece of Sugar-Candy,
.....From the Grocer's Shoppy-shop,
.....And away did hoppy-hop.

All ye Poets of the Age!
All ye Witlings of the Stage!
Learn your Jingles to reform!
Crop your Numbers and Conform:
Let your little Verses flow
Gently, Sweetly, Row by Row:
Let the Verse the Subject fit;
Little Subject, Little Wit.
Namby-Pamby is your Guide;
Albion's Joy, Hibernia's Pride.
Namby-Pamby Pilly-piss,
Rhimy-pim'd on Missy-Miss;
Tartaretta Tartaree,
From the Navel to the Knee;
That her Father's Gracy-Grace
Might give him a Placy-Place.

...He no longer writes of Mammy
Andromache, and her Lammy,
Hanging panging, at the Breast
Of a Matron most distrest.
Now the venal Poet sings
Baby Clouts, and Baby Things;
Baby Dolls, and Baby Houses,
Little Misses, Little Spouses;
Little Play-Things, little Toys,
Little Girls, and little Boys.
As an Actor does his Part,
So the Nurses get by Heart
Namby Pamby's Little Rhimes,
Little Jingle, Little Chimes,
To repeat to Little Miss,
Piddling Ponds of Pissy-Piss;
Cacking-packing like a Lady
Or Bye-byeing in the Crady.
Namby Pamby ne'er will die
While the Nurse sings Lullabye.
Namby Pamby's doubly mild,
Once a Man, and twice a Child;
To his Hanging-Sleeves restor'd;
Now he foots it like a Lord;
Now he pumps his little Wits;
Shitting Writes and Writing Shits,
All by little tiny Bits.
Now methinks I hear him say,
Boys and Girls come out to Play!
Moon do's shine as bright as Day.
Now my Namby Pamby's found
Sitting on the Friar's Ground,
Picking Silver, Picking Gold,
Namby Pamby's never old.
Bally-Cally they begin,
Namby Pamby still keeps in.
Namby Pamby is no Clown,
London-Bridge is broken down:
Now he courts the gay Ladee,
Dancing o'er the Lady-Lee.
Now he sings of Lick-spit Lyar
Burning in the Brimstone Fire;
Lyar, Lyar! Lick-spit, lick,
Turn abut the Candlestick!
Now he sings of Jacky Horner,
Sitting in the Chimney-Corner,
Eating of a Christmas-Pie,
Putting in his Thumb, Oh, fie!
Putting in, Oh, fie! his Thumb,
Pulling out, Oh, strange! a Plumb.
Now he plays at Stee, Staw, Stud,
Sticking Apples in the Mud:
When 'tis turn'd to Stee, Staw, Stire,
Now he acts the Grenadier,
Calling for a Pot of Beer;
Where's his Money? He's forgot:
Get him gone, a Drunken Sot.
Now on Cock-Horse does he ride;
And anon on Timber stride,
See-and-Saw, and Sacch'ry down,
London is a gallant Town!
Now he gathers Riches in,
Thicker, faster, Pin by Pin:
Pins a-piece to see his Show,
Boys and Girls flock Row by Row;
From their Cloaths the Pins they take,
Risque a Whipping for his sake;
From their Frocks the Pins they pull,
To fill Namby's Cushion full.
So much Wit at such an Age,
Does a Genius great presage,
Second Childhood gone and past,
Shou'd he prove a Man at last!
What must second Manhood be,
In a Child so bright as he?

...Guard him, ye poetic Powers!
Watch his Minutes, watch his Hours:
Let your Tuneful Nine inspire him;
Let poetic Fury fire him:
Let the Poets, one and all,
To his Genius Victims fall.

Henry Carey (1687?-1743): Namby-Pamby. A Panegyric on the New Versification. Addressed to A--- P---, Esq. (1725)


TC said...

Henry Carey was trained as a musician, possessed considerable melodic skills and employed these professionally in writing songs and music for plays. His song Sally in Our Alley, first published about 1715, was set originally to his own music and later, after about 1790, to that of a traditional English tune, "What though I am a country lass." It is this song for which Carey is best remembered. In the early twentieth century a musical comedy titled Sally in Our Alley was produced in London; in 1920 a Jerome Kern version of the musical was staged by Florenz Ziegfeld in New York and enjoyed a sixteen-month run. It was then made into a successful Hollywood film in 1929.

For Carey poetry was an amateur amusement not a career project, and his hilarious amusement at the expense of the abysmal (yet briefly popular) pastoralist poet Ambrose Philips (1675-1749) produced the other work for which he is remembered, the brilliant satire Namby-Pamby, which, with its silly sing-song couplets bristling with comically pointed contemporary allusions, wonderfully skewers not only the light, jingly, sticky-sweet verses of Phillips but the regressive infantilism of faux-naïf poetry in general.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

"Now he foots it like a Lord;
Now he pumps his little Wits;
Shitting Writes and Writing Shits,
All by little tiny Bits."

Now that's what I call
Having a downright ball.

TC said...

The true naïf may well be a thing of the past, in a world where every silly fool can become self-sophisticated simply by acquiring a Smartphone.

But the faux-naïf genre in poetry has perhaps never before flourished as it does now.

Not to put a fine point on this by naming names, but it's all around us, creeping, fawning, cute, coy, cloying, infinitely adorable -- with a fake smile on its face, a false heart on its sleeve, a disingenuous word on its lip... and a large grant cheque in its back pocket.

The faux-naïf has the one virtue that's required of successful poetasting currently -- it is careful never to offend anyone.

So let us pat it on its pointy little head, and look away.

Anonymous said...

love the word "naif"