A Hot Cup of Pleasure, a book blog hosted and written by Neeru. This is not unrelated to the content of my own blog for the book that Neeru wrote about in the inspirational post is the renowned Miss Hargreaves, a marvelous fantasy about a fictional character who comes to life. I wrote about Miss Hargreaves and its author Frank Baker in this blog's inaugural year and it continues to attract the attention of people who rarely come here to read about murder, mayhem and horror. Miss Hargreaves is the antithesis of the kind of books I usually write about, but it still celebrates the human imagination and is, ultimately, a treatise on the power of creativity. These are also aspects of genre fiction that I discuss in the many books of crime, adventure and supernatural that usually pop up here.
Wayside Bundle (1959) is a book of poetry by Constance Hargreaves, the title character of Baker's fantasy novel. She never existed but in the imagination of Norman Huntley, the protagonist of that novel. Baker, as a gift for his literary friends who had read the novel and fallen in love with the character, created this volume of her poetry alluded to over the course of the novel. Features of her character's personality crop up in the subject matter of the poems which makes it all the more enjoyable for anyone who has read the novel Miss Hargreaves.
THINGS I LEARNED: Many of the poems are written in doggerel verse, a feature of her writing mentioned in the novel, but there are also non-rhyming poems and more formal structures like a couple of sonnets and two poems that use the arcane form of a triolet, a short poem of eight lines with only two rhymes used throughout. I'd never heard of a "triolet" until I read these two examples. I had to look up whether or not the form actually existed. Here is a brief overview of a triolet according to the American Academy of Poetry: "French in origin, and likely dating to the thirteenth century, the triolet is a close cousin of the rondeau, another French verse form emphasizing repetition and rhyme. The earliest triolets were devotionals written by Patrick Carey, a seventeenth-century Benedictine monk. British poet Robert Bridges reintroduced the triolet to the English language, where it enjoyed a brief popularity among late-nineteenth-century British poets." For an example of the triolet devoted to a serious topic rather than the usual lighthearted verse, they cite Thomas Hardy's "How Great My Grief," a poem I did not know. In fact, I didn't know Hardy wrote anything other than bucolic and melodramatic family saga novels.
And so since I apparently am one of the lucky souls who has acquired one of the rare 350 copies of Wayside Bundle -- ostensibly by Constance Hargreaves, but really written by Frank Baker -- I offered to post some of the poems here. Neeru mentioned in a comment on her post that some of the Hargreaves poems from this pamphlet (it's a mere 24 pages of handmade laid paper and stapled to a flimsy cardboard cover) are published in Bloomsbury's reprint of Miss Hargreaves. This is the edition that nearly everyone in the book reviewing blogosphere has read since it was released in 2009 and why there is a mini cult surrounding the novel these days. Neeeru left a list of the poems in her comment and I've decided to post some of the poems that were not reprinted in that edition.
Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, the poetry of Miss Constance Hargreaves!
|This is a footnote that appears at the bottom of "to the Reader"
Miss Hargreaves refers to her relative in the novel when first introduced to Norman's parents