Tuesday, July 01, 2014


Three Poems by Joseph Dunn Lester


Polyphloisboisteros Homer of old
Threw all his augments into the sea,
Though he'd been firmly but courteously told,
Perfect imperfects begin with an E.

"What the digamma, does any one care!"
The Poet replied with a haughty stare,
And he sat him down by the wine-dark sea,
To write a fresh book of the Odyssey.


Herodotus! Herodotus!
You could not spell, you ancient cuss.
The priests of Egypt gammoned you:
It was not very hard to do,
I do not think you'll gammon us,
Herodotus! Herodotus!


Thucydides, 't is not with ease
We Anglicise your μὲνs and δὲs,
And scan your crabbed histories.
O, had that Alexandrine fire
Consumed your suggraphies entire,
I think we should have bless'd that pyre,
Thucydides, M.A., Esquire.

From The Academy No. 188, n.s. (December 11, 1875) 600-601:
The Rev. J.D. Lester, who died at Wellington College on December 4, was an excellent Welsh scholar, and well versed in the older German dialects. At the time of his death he was engaged on a Historical German Grammar for the Clarendon Press series. He was also a frequent writer in the Westminster and Fortnightly Reviews. Among his contributions to those periodicals are articles on Greek novelists, Sophocles, Lessing, Heine, and Welsh poetry. Mr. Lester has left a number of translations from Heine's Buch der Lieder and from Welsh poems, which it is hoped may soon be published. It is probable that had his life been spared, his varied scholarship and his delicate literary appreciation would have been recognised by a wider circle than the few attached friends who now mourn the loss of a most unassuming, simple-minded, warm-hearted man.
Lester attended Shrewsbury School and was a scholar of Jesus College, Oxford.

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