Some Sonnets in Praise of Spam, by Graham Lester
On Eating Spam for Christmas
When unimpressed with turkey and mince pies,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And curse fat Santa with ungrateful cries,
And look on tasteless gifts from folks I hate,
Wishing I had the riches I have not,
Futures like him, like him of funds possess'd,
Desiring this man's wife, and that man's yacht,
With what I most enjoy presented least:
Yet in these thoughts the season most despising,
Haply I dine on Spam,--and then my state
(Like to some butterfly of hope arising
From misty dusk) sings carols at God's gate;
For on sweet Spam I dine with such trimmings
That I relish Christmas joy’s o’erbrimmings.
"Let me not to the contents of thy can"
Let me not to the contents of thy can
Add any condiments. Spam is not Spam
When altered by unbalanced minds,
Or flaked when the remover doth remove:
O no; it is the ever-fixed pork,
Uncooked, ungarnished, and by Time undinted;
It is like gold to every plundering fork,
Whose worth's unknown, although its price be printed.
Spam’s not uncool, though rosy-hued and cheap
And from it oily trickles constant come;
Spam alters not, doth neither wake nor sleep,
It’s worth cries out though it be deaf and dumb.
If this be error, and such claims a sham,
Ne’er have I writ, and ne’er man ate of Spam.
On His Spamlessness
When I consider how my Spam is spent
Ere half my time in this lunch hour’s gone by,
And thirty minutes left I sit and cry
Longingly Spamless, though my soul be bent
To be served with more, “Waitress” I relent
With gloomy frown, when she returns apace,
"Do you accept Mastercard in this place?"
I fondly ask. But Waitress, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "We hath not need
Of anything except hard cash. Who fails
To tender such, we serve him not. I’ll state
It plain. Yet thousands to our diner speed.
For though all cards of plastic we reject,
We also serve the only Spam in state."
On A Collapsed Spam Display at Food Lion
Avenge, O Lord, thy fallen Spams, that now
Lie scattered in the aisle of Food Lion cold;
Even them whose sell-by date was not yet old,
Whose fall leaves us to dine on bird and cow,
Forget not: in thy book record this chow
That was thy Spam, that from its tin tower bold
Beside the bloody Birdseye Peas, has rolled
Tumbling instant from the stocks, and how
The store resounded with the clangs that left
Them dented. Their punctured metal armor goes
To trash. And dallying in this store bereft,
My triple coupons do I clutch and moan
Such wonderful Spam, now thrown away,
And checkout counter bathe with tears of woe.
On First Looking into Hormel’s Spam
Much have I eaten out of silver cans,
And many goodly meals and soups consumed;
Downed tasty treats from many pots and pans
And breads and jams and condiments perfumed.
But of food less expensive I’d been told
That one proud Hormel tinned for wartime ration
Yet did I never taste this porcine dream
Till my can ope’ner raised its lid, Behold!
Then felt I like some lawyer on the rise
When fast-food client stings with coffee burn;
Or like stout Clinton, who with evil eyes,
Ogling specifics of his new intern
Smiled to himself at a wild surmise
Silent, with just a peek, in Washington.
Bright Spam, would I were wholesome as thou prove--
Set in pink splendour, squeezed within thy can
And waiting, with th’infernal lid removed,
Like Jack K's patient, sleepless in a van,
While sullen waiters at their priestlike task
Of distribution tread cheap café floors.
And gazing on thy new soft oily face
Of Spam, for which I’ll hunger evermore,
Thou yet still wholesome, scarce perishable,
Pillow'd within thy ever sparkling metal,
I wish for ever thy soft porcine smell,
To whiff for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, Spam to sniff with tender-taken breath,
With Spam life ever and without Spam, death.
When I Have Fears
When I have fears that I may cease to eat
Before my fork has glean'd all processed ham,
While yet high-piled shelves in groceries,
Hold like rich garners the full unopen'd Spam;
When I behold, upon some billboard bright,
Huge cloudy symbols of thou, pink entree,
And think that I may never live to bite
Thy tasty substance at the end of day;
And when, fair Helen of the luncheon hour,
I fear I’ll never dine upon thee more,
No more pour relish on thy porcine power
Of undigested stodge;--then on the floor
Of the Food World I fetal lie, and bleat
Till management removes me to the street.
I went for dinner at a cheap cafe
And got: Two vast and tasteless chunks of Spam
Plonked in a salad . . . Near them, croutons lay
Half sunk, a carrot frigid peered, and down,
Beneath it smears of coleslaw cold and gray,
Told the preparer worked for minimum wage
But to survive, swamped by green wilting things.
His hands had cut them, that my greed be fed:
Yet on the menu still these words appeared:
"Please try our Caesar Salad, King of Kings”
Look on these words, ye diners, and despair!
I cannot hide my pain. In my dismay
I clutch on my receipt, soundless and stare.
I moan and sadly hand them back the tray.
Two Spam Limericks:
A pious old man named Hormel
Said, “Morals today aren’t too swell
But a warning from sin
Is contained in this tin
For my Spam is a foretaste of Hell”
A ravenous sailor named Sam
Was wrecked on an isle near Siam
He ate rodents for meat
Until found by the fleet,
Then he cried, “Woe is me! Back to Spam.”
And here are the original sonnets by Shakespeare, Milton, Keats and Shelly
"When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes"
When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least:
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee,--and then my state
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings'.
"Let me not to the marriage of true minds"
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error, and upon me prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.
On His Blindness
When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."
On the Late Massacre in Piedmont
Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered Saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold;
Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
When all our fathers worshiped stocks and stones,
Forget not: in thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold
Slain by the bloody Piemontese, that rolled
Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans
The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow
O'er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway
The triple Tyrant; that from these may grow
A hundredfold, who, having learnt thy way,
Early may fly the Babylonian woe.
On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific--and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art--
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors
No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever-or else swoon to death.
When I Have Fears
When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;--then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.