Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Depression Before Spring

Wallace Stevens' poem Depression Before Spring is about weather and the weariness of waiting:

The cock crows
But no queen rises.

The hair of my blonde
Is dazzling,
As the spittle of cows
threading the wind.

Ho! Ho!
But ki-ki-ri-ki
Brings no rou-cou,
No rou-cou-cou.

But no queen comes
In slipper green.

And yes, I'm tired of the frost on the crocus and the lined waterproof boots, and more than ready for slipper green. But also this morning the newspaper is full of speculation about whether we're in a recession or a not-so-great depression, so it's time for some distraction. How many of you have seen the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical CATS, based on T.S. Eliot's poems? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Remember the song about Macavity the Mystery Cat? It had the mysterious music and the flashing lights!

Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw -
For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
He's broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!
You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air -
But I tell you once and once again, Macavity's not there!

Mcavity's a ginger cat, he's very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
And when you think he's half asleep, he's always wide awake.

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
For he's a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square -
But when a crime's discovered, then Macavity's not there!

He's outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)
And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard's.
And when the larder's looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,
Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke's been stifled,
Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair -
Ay, there's the wonder of the thing! Macavity's not there!

And when the Foreign Office find a Treaty's gone astray,
Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,
There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair -
But it's useless to investigate - Macavity's not there!
And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:
`It must have been Macavity!' - but he's a mile away.
You'll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumbs,
Or engaged in doing complicated long-division sums.

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibi, and one or two to spaer:
At whatever time the deed took place - MACAVITY WASN'T THERE!
And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time
Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime!

At our tea and poetry reading this weekend (for which Eleanor and I wore our feather hats), Ron read a parody of Macavity, the Mystery Cat, and I'd like to share it with you now, on this auspicious low-Dow day:

Liquidity, the Accounting Cat
by John Clarke

Liquidity's a mystery; it's very rarely seen,
It strikes and then is gone again, its getaway is clean,
And despite forensic evidence and great deductive flair,
The conclusion's inescapable, Liquidity's not there!

Liquidity, Liquidity, there's nothing like liquidity,
Its presence gives you confidence, its absence is timidity,
You own perhaps a property, you own perhaps a share,
But once you've lost your credit card, Liquidity's not there!
Your understated opulence inheres in what you wear,
But in the end you face the fact, Liquidity's not there!

Liquidity's a nifty term, it's business talk for cash,
It's money not tied up in things or hoovered in the crash,
Investments may return amounts of staggering obscenity,
The vastness of your holdings may explain your great serenity.
In publishing, to take the case of either of the Fabers,
A warehouse full of Larkin and The Bumper Book of Neighbours
Is very well, and when they sell, will satisfy the editors,
But not much use, in real terms, when dealing with the creditors.

Liquidity, Liquidity, there's nothing like Liquidity,
The glint of actual duckets brings respect and dipthelidity,
It's likely to self-immolate on contact with the air,
Say 'Raffle' in a crowded room; Liquidity's not there!

In the conduct of a company (proprietary limited)
There's always a suspicion that the system's maladministered,
In proper corporate planning you allow a little spare,
But when you need the wherewithal, Liquidity's not there!

Liquidity, Liquidity, there's nothing like Liquidity,
In purely economic terms it constitutes validity,
I wish I had a pound for every credit millionaire,
Who completely failed to register, LIQUIDITY WASN'T THERE!
When reputations tumble and the search is on for clues
(I might mention humpo-bumpo, I might mention drinkie-poos)
There's a suspect who can prove he was in Lima at the time,
They can't catch him, he's the brilliant Scarlet Pimpernel of crime!

If that's not enough to get the song playing in your head for the rest of the day, you can hear it here. Does that help? Anyone?

1 comment:

Harriet said...

Curses! And I just got Memory out of my head after using a line from it in a blog title a few days ago. But you are forgiven, because you also included one of my favorites by Wallace Stevens. I love so much that poetry has become part of my everyday and not just on the occasions that I remember to unearth a dusty poetry book, thanks to your blog.