Magazine article The Spectator

Thoughts of a Cockroach

Magazine article The Spectator

Thoughts of a Cockroach

Article excerpt

newspaper columnists

as their columns show

often

have a hell of a time

filling up space

so don marquis was lucky

when he had the brainwave

of getting

his sun dial column

in the new york post

in the nineteentwenties

filled like this

by a cockroach called

archy

archy wrote

column after column

explaining

expression is the need of my soul

i was once a vers libre bard

but i died

and my soul went into the body

of a cockroach so he wrote

when the office was empty

at night

by hurling himself head downward

onto the keys of

don marquiss manual typewriter

thus because he couldnt manage

capitals and punctuation

his poetry somewhat resembled that

of his greenwich village neighbour

e e cummings

at that time

according to marquis

free verse began to commend itself

to the multitudes

because it looked as if

it would be so easy to write

but to archy it wasnt a mere gimmick

it was the perfect medium for

fulminating

on the drawbacks of contemporary

civilisation and mores

and speakeasy philosophy

as viewed from a place

dangerously low

on the food chain

archys vision was

stereoscopic

for he had the benefit

of the testimony of

mehitabel

an indomitable alley cat

who claimed her previous incarnations

were within the persons of

cleopatra and other lively ladies

i have had my ups and downs

she said

yesterday sceptres and crowns

fried oysters and velvet gowns

and today i herd with bums

but theres nothing i really regret

theres dance in the old dame yet

toujours gai toujours gai

even though her grasp of french

was imperfect

archy

had a way with words

when apostrophising

a mummified pharaoh

he concocted many an elegant variation

viz

my regal leatherface

old tan and tarry

my reverend juicelessness

etc

expressing archys sympathy

with those who thirsted

during the years of prohibition

e b white praised the work of archy

as follows

it is funny it is wise it is tender

and it is tough

i say

everybody who appreciates literature

at its zingiest

should possess this book. …

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