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Song Parodies -> "The Mayn’t Be Metrical Song"

Original Song Title:

"The Major General's Song"

Original Performer:

Gilbert & Sullivan

Parody Song Title:

"The Mayn’t Be Metrical Song"

Parody Written by:

John A. Barry

The Lyrics

Iambs had been the model of my doggerel in general—
They’re a near curse in English verse; their use appears congenital.
Yes, they’re the thing in our lingo, de facto categorical
In writing that’s historical and that that’s allegorical.

Should I inflict a limerick that might depict a testicle,
I’d shy from iambs and I'd entreat meter anapestical.
“There was a man from Nantucket” is a first line that’s often used—
So often that today I couldn’t say that it is not abused.

But nonetheless these anapests arrest my glance, keep me amused.

OK: I have composed a play that’s all arranged in anapests;
Title’s “The Man from Nantucket.” I shan’t believe you can’t have guessed.
Unlike iambs, those anapests are not quite as symmetrical:
Short-long versus short-short-long seems to me a simpler metrical.

And should I ever stage the play, it will create a spectacle.

I’ll stray away now from the play and suggestions of paradox
And expand all I’ve planned and scanned; you’re damned to a grand share of shocks.
The meter beats don’t peter out at just two; they are tremendous;
But trying to corral them all* is appallingly horrendous.

For some effects, you might elect to go forward with the trochee,
But as for me, I only see it seemly in karaoke.
The choree is way beyond me as is the antibacchius.
There’s also the “pro” bacchius; can’t forget paeon secondus.

(Another name for the anapest is the antidactylus.
And while I’m fussing with this stuff, I just mustn’t shun the pyrrhus.)

You might think one would be enough when it comes to the epitrite,
But wait, there’s more; all told, there’s four. This is getting quite recondite.
There’s the spondee and dispondee; I’ll diss them both when I speak back.
The tribrach and the amphibrach are three and two—I can’t keep track.

It’s all so convoluted that it reminds me of a fractal….
Three beats of molossus collossus hang with triadic dactyl.
In this triadic bounty, you’ll encounter also the cretic.
I count five tetrasyllables; I’m bound to become splenetic.

To learn all this, you’d have to sniff much cocaine and get frenetic.
I find three names for one meter—it seems abiogenetic.

There is a Billy Wilder film called The Major and the Minor…
Major and minor iconics—could the point be any finer?!
Ditrochee, diamb, choriamb—that last sounds like a portmanteau
Composed of lamb and coriander; I like lamb, but pork—that’s no!

Last but not least in this beat feast, we finally meet the antispast.
I don’t think that I oppose spast, though its semantics by me’s passed.
I could go look it up in book of mine that’s called a lexicon.
I've mined this shit, my mind ain’t fit; you can define me “vexed and gone”!

And now I spy why I don’t try any serious stuff to spawn;
I’ll stick to jests with anapests, which I’ll express from dusk to dawn.



pyrrhus, dibrach
iamb (or iambus or jambus)
trochee, choree (or choreus)


anapest, antidactylus
cretic, amphimacer


tetrabrach, proceleusmatic
primus paeon
secundus paeon
tertius paeon
quartus paeon
major ionic, double trochee
minor ionic, double iamb
first epitrite
second epitrite
third epitrite
fourth epitrite

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