The Trumpet

I recently had occasion to revisit Edgar Allan Poe's masterpiece, "The Raven." If you have not read The Raven, you must. Maybe it's meant to be a forlorn lament for Poe's Lost Lenore, but I found it incredibly funny. Here is the first of several verses (to read the rest, click here):

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
     While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
     As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
     Only this and nothing more.”

The Raven is written --- wait for it--- in trochaic octameter, with a difficult yet utterly enchanting lilt. David Pearce and I like limericks (and so does Dipankar Dasgupta, in Bengali no less!) but this was something else. Irresistible. So I offer you my attempt at (approximate) trochaic octameter, inspired by the great Poe. Feel free to send me additional verses!

The Trumpet

Once upon a midnight dreary, a wintry month both bleak and weary
An 8th November dark and bleary, now part of human lore ---
     At the tv we sat staring, as around the news kept blaring
     A revelation starkly glaring, one never heard before
Who was this, of orange bearing, scarcely imagined before?
     'Twas a Trumpet, nothing more

With orange mane so starchly tended, with corpulent mien distended,
With anger by his tweets subtended, this beast of blood and gore
     Had seized the Office of the Land, like pussy in his tiny hand,
     Had desecrated Good and Grand, at last he'd got to score
Yet what said he, this orangutan, once he had got to score?
     Quoth he, harrumphing: "Gimme more."

Perched fatly on an escalator, there he'd stood, the Orange Hater
Cursing Mexicans and Muslims and immigrants and more:
     "If I killed someone (just for sport), I know I'd still have your support,
     The facts I gladly will distort, I'll make up lies galore!"
"How would you win," a rival asked, "with all these lies galore?"
     Quoth the Trumpet: "You're a bore."

So there he smirked, inaugurated, his crowd-size promptly overrated,
Grimacing and gesturing, and growling as he swore:
     "Tax cuts for the one percent, that's what I'll do as President;
     And screw the rest --- that's my intent --- now that I have the floor."
"A dash of kindness..." asked the Public, "now that you have the floor?"
     Quoth the Trumpet: "Fuck the Pore."

Down in sunny Mar-a-Lago, nursing a mal estomago
The Trumpet flatulently burped a million tweets and more:
     "Plummy posts for loyal faces!" "Blacks had better know their places!"
     "Shithole countries are disgraces!" --- an unremitting roar.
"Could we tone down," asked the Public, "this vile and noisome roar?"
      Quoth the Trumpet: "Whatever for?"

Perchance with all the hi-falutin' maneuvers with Kim and Putin
The Trump will lose his plumpy footin', and wash up dead ashore
     No shithole place will be so crass, to breathe a Prayer or a Mass
     Thus may his fat recumbent ass decay for evermore
So we can turn, and then return, to the glory days of yore
     Quoth the Trumpet [off-stage]: "Nevermore!"


Postscript: I've discovered, to my gentle dismay but great admiration, that I am not the first to write about a US President in trochaic octameter. Here is a brilliant example by Frank Jacobs, from issue 265 of Mad magazine, September 1986. (There may be others.)

A second postscript, February 16 2024.

My good friend Rajeev Dehejia just read this, and decided to ask Chat GPT 4 for a few more stanzas. Chat GPT immediately obliged. I'm impressed and now totally depressed. It took me the better part of a day to write that, and now this ridiculous program does it in 15 seconds? Actually, I am beyond impressed.

Upon a day that shook the core, of democracy's firm shore,
A mob, incited, broke the door, their fury to outpour---
     With banners, chants, and violence they stormed the Capitol's silence,
     A scene of chaos and defiance, like none seen heretofore.
Who led them to this grievous war, this breach of law's decorum?
     'Twas the Trumpet, at the fore.

Charged with crimes, a lengthy list, his presidency wrapped in mist,
Allegations, none could resist, of corruption, fraud, and more---
     Impeachments twice, yet still he stood, claiming all was good and should,
     Deny, deflect, as only he could, a legal tempest's roar.
"Will justice find him?" many implored, amidst the legal lore.
     Quoth analysts: "Hard to ignore."

Yet in defiance, unabated, his ambitions not sedated,
He announced a bid, much debated, for the office once he wore---
     "I'll return," he boldly claimed, through trials and accusations, maimed,
     His base, still loyal, unashamed, with him as before.
Can he reclaim the seat of power, the summit of the political core?
     Quoth the Trumpet: "Watch the score."


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