Sunday, June 14, 2009


Greek Prose Composition

Robert F. Murray (1863-1893), A Song of Greek Prose:
    Thrice happy are those
    Who ne'er heard of Greek Prose—
Or Greek Poetry either, as far as that goes;
    For Liddell and Scott
    Shall cumber them not,
Nor Sargent nor Sidgwick shall break their repose.

    But I, late at night,
    By the very bad light
Of very bad gas, must painfully write
    Some stuff that a Greek
    With his delicate cheek
Would smile at as 'barbarous'—faith, he well might.

    For when it is done,
    I doubt if, for one,
I myself could explain how the meaning might run;
    And as for the style—
    Well, it's hardly worth while
To talk about style, where style there is none.

    It was all very fine
    For a poet divine
Like Byron, to rave of Greek women and wine;
    But the Prose that I sing
    Is a different thing,
And I frankly acknowledge it's not in my line.

    So away with Greek Prose,
    The source of my woes!
(This metre's too tough, I must draw to a close.)
    May Sargent be drowned
    In the ocean profound,
And Sidgwick be food for the carrion crows!
Liddell and Scott = Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, authors of A Greek-English Lexicon.

Sargent = John Young Sargent, author of A Primer of Greek Prose Composition, Materials and Models for Greek Prose Composition, etc.

Sidgwick = Arthur Sidgwick, author of Introduction to Greek Prose Composition, Lectures on Greek Prose Composition, etc.

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