Sidi J. Mahtrow

The Satiric Eye (A Book Review) - Poem by Sidi J. Mahtrow

Those “romantic” folk
Of which writers often fun do poke,
Of the late 1700's and early 1800's
Earned their keep by writing
What appealed to the buying public.

Never mind that those
In the halls of learning
Still are trying to understand
The workings of the writers
And publishers of that long past time.

In The Satiric Eye, Dr. Jones
Has selected a group of “perfessers”
Who offer-up
(Although have some difficulty
In explaining in words
Those not privileged
To be in the Illuminati
Can understand)
A thin volume on a variety
Of loosely related topics
That is a pleasure to read.

Wonder what barbers,
Slave-traders, pantomime artist,
Computer hackers, children’s book writers,
Religion and pulp fiction writers
Have in common?

It’s explained quite well
In The Satiric Eye.

It was for MONEY.
Actually nothing has changed.

Of course there’s the exception
Which is of course in Academia,
Getting your name on the cover
Or in the index is enough.

God knows that charging
An exorbitant price for a book
Ensures that it only will
Appear in the stacks of a few libraries,
Carefully protected
From the reading public.

And when the publisher gets cold feet,
Slash goes the price
And it is dumped,

So it is with this small book.
If the contributors,
Editor and publisher has insisted
On a bit of polish
It could have well been a popular book.

Had they remembered the four “e’s”;
Excite, Entertain, Educate and End.
The book might have eluded
The remainder shelf.

Instead, they begin
With an introduction
That would make any old maid weep
(Not tears of joy, but tribulation
And anguish.)

What exactly is it is that
Dr. Jones is trying to say?
Heaven knows.
He writes,
“The promiscuous opportunism
Regarding medium and form
Is especially characteristic
Of radical political satire.”

“London at the end
Of the eighteenth century
(And into the beginning of the nineteenth century)
Was awash in heteroglossic media..., ”

“...the newly dominant
Nineteenth-century critical reviews
As a genre
Used parody
To underwrite their own authority
Vis-a-vis the (negative)
Example of Wordsworthian simplicity,
Thus setting up
A “new school of criticism”
In the (mirror) image
Of the new school of poetry.”

“Finally, for some
(And I count myself among them) ,
Satiric modes often provide us
With a dialectical counter voice,
Even a counter history,
Within the period,
A dialectical perspective
That has helped to construct
And has been constructed
By more conventional
Notions of the Romantic.”

Ah, well.
I still recommend the book.
Select a chapter and get comfortable
With the topic
As the writer paints
An interesting picture
Of the changes taking place in England
And throughout the world.

The printing press
Made it possible for the masses
To own a book.

But before
They were going to part
With their scanty earnings,
It must offer something in exchange.

So it was that satire
And the handmaiden,
Stood at the alter.

Never mind,
That the lady
Had been much abused;
The congregation was forgiving,
When the flesh was weak.

Writers exercised the truism
“It is easier to steal
Than to invent, ”
Plagiarism was rife.

Perhaps this added
A bit of spice to the stew
As the public had a greater awareness
Of the “classics”
Than we have today,
And knew full-well
When a bit was “lifted”.

Sam Butler
(The Butler of Hudibras fame)
Would have been pleased,
Then and now,
To discover
The offspring of satire
And parody;
Sarcasm lives.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, March 24, 2007

Poem Edited: Saturday, February 5, 2011

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