Souls of Poets dead and gone,
What Elysium have ye known,
Happy field or mossy cavern,
Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?
So quoth Mr. John Keats—or so he will haue quethen, two Centuries hence, if the arcane Prognostickations of my Colleague, the learned Doctor John Dee, be afforded but their just Due. Aye, & Mr. Keats’ Question may be fairly address’d to those Poets living & here present, and all!
Therefore, Welcome, Merry Masters & Mistresses all, to The MERMAID TAVERN, where we meet in Celebration of THE FLEA’s Second Birthday! Here is the Down the Pub Broadsheet; a Brobdingnagian Broadsheet (if I may anticipate the Nomenclature of Dean Swift); a huge Poetic Pub Crawl to diuert you, with Vplifte, & Rise, & Swellinge, & Dizzy Apogee, & Declination, & Collapse, & Aftermath withal.
Our aduenture commenceth with Mr. Ben Jonson & his cronies at The Apollo room, in The Devil & Saint Dunstan Tavern; thence proceeding to a most justify’d & virtuous Complainte from that Colossus of Poets, Lord John Whitworth of Gunn, concerning the pernicious Taxes levied by an avaricious Exchequer, onerously vpon our Poets’ Vatic Necessaries, (as Ale, Canary, Uisgebaugh, Porter &c., &c.); thence to the Rivermouth of Scoff & Vintage, handsomely prouided by the great Bard of Bunyah, Mr. Les Murray, who hath recently join’d the Tribe of Psyllophilous Poets, hauing generously bestow’d New Verses upon these humble & Flea-ishe Pages; & thereafter may ye hie to the Poets’ Lunch, with Masters Alan Gould & Geoff Page; whereat such worthies as A.D. Hope, &c. have feasted & revell’d. For, as Mr. Gould hath sent Report:
In Canberra (Chiefe Citie of Terra Australis Incognita) for many years there was, each November, a Poets’ Lunch, and for a decade I was an habitué with the likes of A.D. Hope, David Campbell, Rosemary Dobson, R. F. Brissenden, Geoff Page and more. The Protocol was, that we compos’d each a poem on the subject of wine, which went into the Australian National University Staff Centre Christmas Wine List; and in return we got a good lunch, abundant good wine, and a bottle of port to take home. So, Master Stevens, will I send you betimes, by way of ætheric-mail Attachment, three samples of my Contributions; moreouer, I know Geoff Page Esq. hath sundrie few of these well stash’d away; but most of the older poets are now among the Immortals.
And so, Readers, we may taste some of the fruits of these historic Poets’ Lunches, within the pages of this Broadsheet; as, Mr. Gould’s ‘Sprezzatura for ADH While Absent From The Poets Lunch’, Mr. Page’s ‘McSpiggot’s’, & diuers others more.
Nay, but the revels of The FLEA’s Anniversarie end not there, Good Readers! Onwards to The Mermaid Tauerne! Suruey but, if ye will, this Publick Bar Poetickal; hearken to to its sociable Hub-Bub & hearty Roare; nose the Heady Perfume of the Hoppie Ale, the Heauen-Scent esters of the Fruitful & Fermented Vine; venison Pyes & Pasties a-plenty here for your tasting; bold Eyes to eye you, ogling amorously; Louers’ Wine, & the Wine Incorporeal of the mystickal Soofi sect of the Saracens. And such fine Verses withal! Mr. Stephen Edgar, heightened to a braue Spiritual Intoxication, euokes a Visionarie Byzantium; Mistresses Anna Evans, Jane Røken, & Salli Shepherd are but several (excelling The Three Graces) of the numerous & skill-full Daughters of the Muses, who will be found wittilie adorning & regaling the Rooms & Mansions of The Mermaid Tauerne; Mistress Janet Kenny & Mr. Timothy Murphy raise toasts to our Dear Ones, to our Guide Men & Fine Ladies; & Poet after Poet steps to the Bar; forsooth, the Music heightens, & the Animation of the Spirits, as the Revelries dance on.
Seizing the Moment, Mine Host, to witte, Your Humble & Obedient Editor, viz., my poor unworthy Self, maketh bold (face flush’d with the glow of the True Hippocrene), to clamber high vpon a bench, & to call for Silence from the rowdie Imbibers! It is to announce the much-coueted (though utterly insubstantial & ætheric) Golden FLEA awards, that he clears his throat, & declaims, as follows:
The GOLDEN FLEA Prizes for Excellence in Psyllophilous Poetry, awarded to the best poems originally publish’d in The FLEA, consist of valuable ætheric Trophies, so utterly Metaphysical that they do not euen exist in Body Natural, but only in the Realm of the Ideal. This Year they are awarded to—
Mistress Anna Evans, for ‘The Persistence of Desire’:
Mr. Amit Majmudar, for ‘The Yo-yo’:
Mistress Ann Drysdale, for ‘When Mister Nifty Plays the Bones’:
Mr. Stephen Edgar, for ‘The Representation of Reality in Western Art’:
These awards to be deliuer’d vnto the honour’d Recipients by a host of Angels in a Glory!
Applause & vainglorious Triumph erupteth; then the merrie Pell-Mell Hub-Bub resumeth, more Helter-Skelter euen than before; & so the Festiue Eveneing rageth on; through reck-less Bacchic Jests & Japes, where the hectic Zany doth rule, & over-rule; with uigorous declamation of Uerses proper, & Uerses improper; muche Effing & Jeffinge, & rampant capering & Showtinge; & Flirtings, & Flyttings, & Kissings, & Clippings; a frantic-antic Vproar, on into the late-small-Howres of the Night.
One animated Reveller (who cleau’d, some said, to a certaine Apockalytpickal Sect), was seiz’d while executing a Dancing-Leape, & transported instantly to a Heauenly Realme, of white marshmallow Cloudes: Rauish’d up into a Rapture; & leauing but a pair of forlorne & emptie Shoes behind, from which curl’d small white Wisps of Ghoastly Smoake.
The FLEA, tiny eyes flashing, leapeth & pranceth for a space, upon a Firkin-head, & singeth lustily the tauerne-Dittie, Like a Rutterkin, Hoyda!; but collapseth atte last into sonorous Billows of Stentorian Flea-snores. Out in the street a dog barks; a Screech-Owle howles; a Toad croaks; a Mandrake shrikes; a tyred Reveller drunkenly croons; & the Nighte-Watchman with his Lanthorne strideth through the Dark, crying, O Per Se O!
For ineuitably, after Excess of Pleasure & Follie, ensueth Discomfort, & Remorse; & sober Repentance; Hang-Ouers haue the Rule, oppressiuely now; now commenceth the dire Search for Cure, & Restoration of the shatter’d Wittes. Thus it is meet, that Mistress Anna Euans should read unto us (who, it may be, are rather heavy of Head & Spirit), some Lines of Solace & Spiritual Striuing from Mr. George Herbert.
Yet there is still one more duty poetickal to be done: Master Ben Jonson, Laureate, takes up & amplifies those opening Sentiments (as formerly express’d by My Lord Whitworth), concerning the Mean-ness, nay the ranke Parsimonie, of the Exchequer, pertaining to proper Supplie of the Poets’ Wine!
And so Good Morrowe to this Third Yeare of The FLEA’s Golden Reygne, shower’d with Cascades of Glory; & with grateful Thankes to our Poets, aye, & to our comely and sage Readers too, for their Svpport of these fine Fleaish Follies; for it is oft obseru’d that, sans Poets & Readers, there can be no Poetickal Æ-Broadsheets at all, howe’er so Energetick an ærsatz & ærstwhile Editor mighte Fancie himself to Bee!
Thys Mighty FLEA, cheer-ful of Spirit, but, (after high Celebration), somewhat foggy of Uision, & thicke of Brain-pan, must now rest awhile; thus are Ye appris’d, O Psyllophilous Ones, of a Re-Ordering of the Schedule of Propos’d Publickation for these Broadsheetes (that surely must, after this Gigantic Excess, be fashion’d slimmer & more modestly demure of Proportion): such Re-Ordering to be made, to allouue a Restoratiue Rest for Yr Hble & Obdt’s powers of clear Ratiocination, & judicious Discrimination, & towards the Recuperation of his Quillboarde-tapping Digital Dexteritie; which new Schema is therefore appended heretounder; & now Goodnighte!
Reviz’d Calendar of The FLEA Broadsheet Publickations, &c.
May, Broadsheet XVI
July, Broadheet XVII
August, Broadsheet XVIII
September, Broadsheet XIX
October, Broadsheet XX