Sonnet: To Jell-O
Never let it be said that Japey doesn’t have the soul, or income, of a poet. It was he, after all, who scored the only recorded interview with one of the most prominent and controversial figures in the history of rhyme. Occasionally, Japey has even been moved to take up the quill himself, cook dinner, open a bottle or three of Chianti, get biz-zay with Calliope, muse of epic poetry and circus wagons, and hand her cab fare at 3 a.m. (I told her I had to work the next morning, which, strictly speaking, wasn’t exactly true, but what you gonna do?)
One of Japey’s erstwhile efforts in the versification game, long assumed to be lost to history, or stolen from my desk by former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky (trust me, he’s done it before), recently came to light again after an indeterminate number of years. An exercise in Elizabethan poesy “commissioned” for an undergraduate poetry class, it captures, I think, both the verve and fertile creative spirit of Tudor England and the angst of the “freshman fifteen.” While I’m generally opposed to the airing of juvenilia, which inevitably exposes one not only as self-indulgent, but also a hoarder, I reread what I had written and realized that it would be exceedingly unfair—nay, criminal—to keep it hidden from the world any longer. I hope you’ll find it as timely as I do, that time being approximately 3 hours in the refrigerator (less if you stir in ice cubes). Whatever your reaction, just remember: there’s always room for poetry.
Instructions for Recitation
- Don pantaloons and shoes with long, upcurled toes. In the absence of pantaloons, use one of the shoes to cover your junk (two if necessary).
- Declaim the poem while contemplating a skull in your outstretched hand. If the skull is “fresh,” boil until the flesh easily slides off.
- The reciter should speak in slightly tremulous imitation of Sir John Gielgud. Slightly tremulous imitation of Dame Judi Dench is also acceptable. Using the skull ventriloquistically will add extra zest to the proceedings.
- When encountering words that include an apostrophe, draw the apostrophe in the air with your finger to alert the audience to its presence.
- All words that begin with a w should be pronounced with a prominent initial h, so: “hwat,” “hwondrous.”
- All r’s should be enunciated with a prolonged trill; the word “radiance” should take a full three seconds. Hint: count “One Stratford-Upon-Avon, two Stratford-Upon-Avon, three Stratford-Upon-Avon.”
So, without further ado about nothing:
Sonnet: To Jell-O
O! Jell-O! Gentle Jell-O of my heart
Thy crimson glow astounds mine mortal eye
I quake before thy ruby-bosomed art
What radiance in thy quiv’ring majesty!
O! Hue of emerald green! O! Tang of lime!
O! Pigeon blood of cherry! Wondrous feat!
Now chillèd to perfection gelatine
Sweet rainbow’d heft of Daphne’s laurel’d teat
A dusty infancy in coffers dim
Alas! To view the aura of the noon
And lo, but by a fair housemaiden’s whim
Thy destiny enmesh with glutt’nous spoon
The just desserts thy beauty doth inspire—
Of these, my love, the world will never tire.