With an outrageous sense of absurdity--and a bite to match his bark--Alan Van Dine rekindles the long neglected powers of light verse to reveal the humor in everything from science and history to the sacred cows of everyday life.
The author recalls his days in English Literature courses when "poetry loomed as a mysterious edifice, approached with reverence and awe. . . and poems required explication by a priestly cult of interpreters."
"Light verse is different," he writes in the preface to this book. "When you read it, you know what it means. When you write it, it's a form of play rather than a species of work or of art, and it's often a form of procrastination. You don't do it when you have the time; you do it when you're deeply over-committed to onerous tasks you would rather avoid." Both for reader and writer, he says, it's also a good way to shift gears in your brain. . . "to let your left brain take a sabbatical from problem-solving and have some fun rummaging around in your right brain's tool chests and toy boxes."
The same might be said for his whimsical drawings, which appear throughout the book.
If Instead of Apes We Had Come from Grapes proves a basic axiom: never underestimate the power of humor and of poets to entertain, to stimulate and to annoy, sometimes simultaneously.
The author introduces this chapter telling us "Facetious verse about a city has got to be nasty or it just doesn't work, which is why Chambers of Commerce employ so few poets."
Memorialized and pilloried are: