Clattery MacHinery on Poetry

August 4, 2006

Sousa Marches In Where Mozart Fears to Fiddle

Filed under: Uncategorized — Clattery MacHinery @ 3:02 am

from The Letters of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

written November 8, 1777

translated by Lady Grace Wallace

My very dearest papa,–I cannot write poetically, for I am no poet. I cannot make fine artistic phrases that cast light and shadow, for I am no painter; I can neither by signs nor by pantomime express my thoughts and feelings, for I am no dancer; but I can by tones, for I am a musician. So to-morrow, at Cannabich’s, I intend to play my congratulations both for your name-day and birthday. Mon tres-cher pere, I can only on this day wish for you, what from my whole heart I wish for you every day and every night–health, long life, and a cheerful spirit. I would fain hope, too, that you have now less annoyance than when I was in Salzburg; for I must admit that I was the chief cause of this. They treated me badly, which I did not deserve, and you naturally took my part, only too lovingly. I can tell you this was indeed one of the principal and most urgent reasons for my leaving Salzburg in such haste. I hope, therefore, that my wish is fulfilled. I must now close by a musical congratulation. I wish that you may live as many years as must elapse before no more new music can be composed. Farewell! I earnestly beg you to go on loving me a little, and, in the mean time, to excuse these very poor congratulations till I open new shelves in my small and confined knowledge-box, where I can stow away the good sense which I have every intention to acquire.


                by John Philip Sousa (1854-1932)

                published in 1907

                The Feast of the Monkeys

                In days of old,
                So I’ve been told,
                The monkeys gave a feast.
                They sent out cards,
                With kind regards,
                To every bird and beast.
                The guests came dressed,
                In fashion’s best,
                Unmindful of expense;
                Except the whale,
                Whose swallowtail,
                Was “soaked” for fifty cents.

                The guests checked wraps,
                Canes, hats and caps;
                And when that task was done,
                The footman he
                With dignitee,
                Announced them one by one.
                In Monkey Hall,
                The host met all,
                And hoped they’d feel at ease,
                “I scarcely can,”
                Said the Black and Tan,
                “I’m busy hunting fleas.”

                “While waiting for
                A score or more
                Of guests,” the hostess said,
                “We’ll have the Poodle
                Sing Yankee Doodle,
                A-standing on his head.
                And when this through,
                Good Parrot, you,
                Please show them how you swear.”
                “Oh, dear; don’t cuss,”
                Cried the Octopus,
                And he walked off on his ear.

                The Orang-Outang
                A sea-song sang,
                About a Chimpanzee
                Who went abroad,
                In a drinking gourd,
                To the coast of Barberee.
                Where he heard one night,
                When the moon shone bright,
                A school of mermaids pick
                Chromatic scales
                From off their tails,
                And did it mighty slick.

                “All guests are here,
                To eat the cheer,
                And dinner’s served, my Lord.”
                The butler bowed;
                And then the crowd
                Rushed in with one accord.
                The fiddler-crab
                Came in a cab,
                And played a piece in C;
                While on his horn,
                The Unicorn
                Blew, You’ll Remember Me.

                “To give a touch
                Of early Dutch
                To this great feast of feasts,
                I’ll drink ten drops
                Of Holland’s schnapps,”
                Spoke out the King of Beasts.
                “That must taste fine,”
                Said the Porcupine,
                “Did you see him smack his lip?”
                “I’d smack mine, too,”
                Cried the Kangaroo,
                “If I didn’t have the pip.”

                The Lion stood,
                And said: “Be good
                Enough to look this way;
                Court Etiquette
                Do not forget,
                And mark well what I say:
                My royal wish
                Is ev’ry dish
                Be tasted first by me.”
                “Here’s where I smile,”
                Said the Crocodile,
                And he climbed an axle-tree.

                The soup was brought,
                And quick as thought,
                The Lion ate it all.
                “You can’t beat that,”
                Exclaimed the Cat,
                “For monumental gall.”
                “The soup,” all cried.
                “Gone,” Leo replied,
                “‘Twas just a bit too thick.”
                “When we get through,”
                Remarked the Gnu,
                “I’ll hit him with a brick.”

                The Tiger stepped,
                Or, rather, crept,
                Up where the Lion sat.
                “O, mighty boss
                I’m at a loss
                To know where I am at.
                I came to-night
                With appetite
                To drink and also eat;
                As a Tiger grand,
                I now demand,
                I get there with both feet.”

                The Lion got
                All-fired hot
                And in a passion flew.
                “Get out,” he cried,
                “And save your hide,
                You most offensive You.
                “I’m not afraid,”
                The Tiger said,
                “I know what I’m about.”
                But the Lion’s paw
                Reached the Tiger’s jaw,
                And he was good and out.

                The salt-sea smell
                Of Mackerel,
                Upon the air arose;
                Each hungry guest
                Great joy expressed,
                And “sniff!” went every nose.
                With glutton look
                The Lion took
                The spiced and sav’ry dish.
                Without a pause
                He worked his jaws,
                And gobbled all the fish.

                Then ate the roast,
                The quail on toast,
                The pork, both fat and lean;
                The jam and lamb,
                The potted ham,
                And drank the kerosene.
                He raised his voice:
                “Come, all rejoice,
                You’ve seen your monarch dine.”
                “Never again,”
                Clucked the Hen,
                And all sang Old Lang Syne.




  1. Hey Bud,
    You captured my interest with this title, and I wasn’t disappointed. Sousa’s fun, but what would you expect from someone who had a tuba named after him?

    Comment by Micky — August 4, 2006 @ 7:17 pm

  2. Hi Micky,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    I had to fiddle with the title until I got it where it is. Thanks for noticing.

    Did you notice too that Sousa’s outfit was made from the same roll of cloth as Mozart’s?–it looks like.


    Comment by Bud Bloom — August 5, 2006 @ 1:46 am

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