Thursday, February 20, 2020

“The Hamadryad of Ragweed”

(The doggerel and the illustration are both by Ed Fisher, and appeared in Horizon Magazine Volume VIII, No. 4, Autumn 1966. I believe today may be the first time these lines have been rendered in machine-readable form.)

In ancient Greece, beside the Wine-
Dark sea, ’twixt earth and ether,
A race of beings, not divine
But not quite human, either,
Inhabited the smiling land
In paralyzing numbers—
In every stream, or every stand
Of oaks, or of cucumbers.

From lowest reed bed by the sea
To loftiest Hymettus
They dwelt in every bush and tree
And every head of lettuce.
No scribe could tally up their ranks,
Nor bold amanuensis
(It would have flooded memory banks
And overwhelmed the census).

Delightful female forms had they
And lovely names like “Aegle”
And “Lotis,” “Lara,” “Dryope,”
And sometimes they were vaguely
Perceived by furtive mortal eye
—A dazzling sight to pitch on
Of perfect bosom, gleaming thigh,
Unhampered by a stitch on.

No wonder, then, the groves of Greece
Were full of would-be voyeurs
And Kings were robbed of mental peace
While Queens consulted lawyers;
The Gods themselves were not averse
To dallying with these Naiads
Though Goddesses would weep and curse
And mutter jeremiads.

Nor were the Nymph and Naiads loath
Nor overly retiring;
Their job of fostering the growth
Of plants was uninspiring;
They found it hard to be demure,
To stick to girlish chatter
Or to delight in what was pure-
Ly vegetable matter.

So, now and then, from every stem,
Or pool, or branch arboreal
A lovely figure would emerge,
Aquiver and corporeal,
A blush or two, a soft “yoo-hoo”
—A male would catch a sight of her;
A “view halloo!” a hot pursue,
And then he’d make a night of her.

The forests rang with constant cry
Of men and Gods and Satyrs;
While from their beds amid the rye,
The tulips and the taters,
The Dryads rose, took shape, displayed
Their succulent totality—
No Self-denying Ordinance stayed
Their consummate carnality.

The Nymphs of Oak and Elm enjoyed
A string of peccadilloes,
The Ferns were constantly employed,
And so were all the Willows;
The Cowslips were a frequent catch
In countless lustful gambols;
Despite a tendency to scratch
So was the Nymph of Brambles.

Alone amidst this lightsome set
One lovely creature languished
With downcast cheek and eyelids wet,
Emitting murmurs anguished;
Untouched, unbroached, for her the joys
Of love remained untasted,
Though oft approached by men and boys
Their efforts were quite wasted.

For from her lips and nostrils proud
And from her hair’s gold glory
There swirled an irritating cloud
Of tiny 𝘮𝘪𝘤𝘳𝘰𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘢𝘦
That cast the most appalling spell
On all would-be attackers
That made them cough and itch and swell
And sneeze like firecrackers.

Thus wracked, no lover could begin
(Though she submitted docilely);
They’d try, with flaming eye and skin,
“Kerchoo-ing” most colossally,
To make a pass, embrace, or pet,
To rise above distraction
—But neither lass nor lad could get
A moment’s satisfaction.

No hardy hero of the Greeks
(Accomplished womanizers,
To whom a maiden’s kicks and shrieks
Were merely appetizers)
Could face resistance such as 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴
So shameful and so baffling,
Could boldly grasp or blithely kiss
While sniffling and snaffling!

And though from far and near they came
Determined on a try at
Her scatheless virtue, none could claim
The Ragweed Hamadryad.
Brave Spartans, hardy men of Thrace,
And wily Trapezuntites
All fled her pollen-flushed embrace
With volleys of “𝘎𝘦𝘴𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘵𝘴!”

Even the thirsting Gods above
Could only heave a sigh at
The unpossessed attractions of
The Ragweed Hamadryad.
Priapus raged and Bacchus wept
And Comus was no calmer;
Despite these fits they primly kept
A healthy distance from her.

At last, one day, great Zeus looked down
And found her figure pleasing;
With knowing smile and tucked-up gown,
His bolt and sceptre seizing.
He stepped to earth; they met, they clasped,
In raptures paroxysmic
They tossed like ocean vessels grasped
By forces cataclysmic.

The heavens blazed as, wildly, crazed,
They spent their passions hoarded
While passing strangers stopped, amazed,
And recklessly applauded;
And when at last she cried “enough”
He rose up, enigmatic,
And promptly vanished in a puff
Of multicolored static.

This Mightiest of Scamps had done
What legions had attempted;
From ragweed pollen he, alone,
Seemed totally exempted.
With greatest ease he’d won the prize
This courier anointed,
Nor cough, nor sneeze, nor red-of-eyes
Had stayed his rounds appointed.

And all the Greeks with paeans praised
His feat apocalyptic
But when the 𝘩𝘰𝘸 of it was raised
Great Zeus’s smile was cryptic;
He kept his questioners at bay
And kept his reputation.
In truth, his only secret lay
In Careful Preparation.

—This Romeo, before the show
And well behind the scenes
Had smeared himself from head to toe
With antihistamines
And thus protected had attained
His triumph transcendental
But to the public he explained:
“All allergies are mental.”