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The Ants ( and Mac Richard Flecknoe )

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 6:10 pm    Post subject: The Ants ( and Mac Richard Flecknoe ) Reply with quote

The Ant " is a poem by Richard Flecknoe - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Flecknoe

Richard Flecknoe (c. 1600 – 1678) was an English dramatist, poet and musician. He is remembered for being made the butt of satires by Andrew Marvell in 1681 and by John Dryden in Mac Flecknoe in 1682.

" Little is known of Flecknoe's life. He was probably of English birth, from Northamptonshire, though he may have been of Irish heritage. He was a Catholic and may have been ordained a lay-priest by the Jesuits while abroad ... ... Andrew Marvell encountered him in Rome in 1645, from which period dates Marvell's satire "Flecknoe, an English Priest at Rome", although it was not published until 1681. His verse is charactised there as "hideous" and it is also mentioned that he performed on the lute. ... ... Shortly after Flecknoe's return to England in 1636 his first play, now lost, was performed in London, possibly by Queen Henrietta's Men. Audiences derided as it "lascivious" and "scandalous", an assessment compounded by the knowledge that the author was an ordained priest. ... ... Much of Flecknoe's later poetry was epigrammatic, in the line of Ben Jonson, with aristocratic addressees, which led one critic to remark that he was "better acquainted with the Nobility than with the Muses" ... ... He also took a moral stance in his prose works on English drama, and it may have been one of those that prompted Dryden to make him an object of satire in his Mac Flecknoe (1682), where he is depicted as the dying Monarch of Nonsense, bequeathing his title to the playwright Thomas Shadwell. ... "


" ... He left the university without a degree, and joined the Middle Temple. At the Whig triumph in 1688, he superseded John Dryden as poet laureate and historiographer royal ... ... For fourteen years from the production of his first comedy to his memorable encounter with John Dryden, Shadwell produced a play nearly every year. These productions display a hatred of sham, and a rough but honest moral purpose. Although bawdy, they present a vivid picture of contemporary manners. ... ... Shadwell is chiefly remembered as the unfortunate Mac Flecknoe of Dryden's satire, the "last great prophet of tautology," and the literary son and heir of Richard Flecknoe - "The rest to some faint meaning make pretense, But Sh____ never deviates into sense." ... "


" ... Written about 1678, but not published until 1682 (see 1682 in poetry), "Mac Flecknoe" is the outcome of a series of disagreements between Thomas Shadwell and Dryden. ... It opens with the lines - " All human things are subject to decay, And when fate summons, monarchs must obey " ... The poem illustrates Shadwell as the heir to a kingdom of poetic dullness, represented by his association with Richard Flecknoe, an earlier poet already satirized by Andrew Marvell and disliked by Dryden, although the poet does not use belittling techniques to satirize him. ... The poem begins in the tone of an epic masterpiece, presenting Shadwell's defining characteristic as dullness ... Thus, Dryden subverts the theme of the defining characteristic by giving Shadwell a negative characteristic as his only virtue. ... "



The ant has made herself illustrious
By constant industry industrious.
So what? Would you be calm and placid
If you were full of formic acid ?
Ogden Nash


Une fourmi de dix-huit mètres
Avec un chapeau sur la tête, Ça n’existe pas,
ça n’existe pas.
Une fourmi traînant un char Plein de pingouins et de canards, Ça n’existe pas,
ça n’existe pas.
Une fourmi parlant français, Parlant latin et javanais, Ça n’existe pas,
ça n’existe pas.
Eh! pourquoi pas?

An 18-meter long ant With a hat on its head That doesn’t exist,
that doesn’t exist.
An ant pulling a cart Full of penguins and ducks That doesn’t exist,
that doesn’t exist.
An ant speaking French, Speaking Latin and Javanese, That doesn’t exist,
that doesn’t exist.
Hey! Why not ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pjw2A3QU8Qg - ( The Ants Go Marching Song )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfifKCtY-3s - ( " The Ants " by Joyce Sidman - skip to 2.00 )




" Jean de La Fontaine ( 8 July 1621 – 13 April 1695 ) was a famous French fabulist and one of the most widely read French poets of the 17th century. He is known above all for his Fables, which provided a model for subsequent fabulists across Europe and numerous alternative versions in France, and in French regional languages. ... After a long period of royal suspicion, he was at last admitted to the French Academy and his reputation in France has never faded since. Evidence of this is found in the many pictures and statues of the writer, as well as later depictions on medals, coins and postage stamps. ... Further evidence of La Fontaine’s enduring popularity is his appearance on a playing card from the second year of the French Revolution ... "


The Ant and the Grasshopper, alternatively titled The Grasshopper and the Ant (or Ants), is one of Aesop's Fables, numbered 373 in the Perry Index. The fable describes how a hungry grasshopper begs for food from an ant when winter comes and is refused. The situation sums up moral lessons about the virtues of hard work and planning for the future. ... Even in Classical times, however, the advice was mistrusted and an alternative story represented the ant's industry as mean and self-serving. Jean de la Fontaine's delicately ironical retelling in French later widened the debate to cover the themes of compassion and charity. Since the 18th century the grasshopper has been seen as the type of the artist and the question of the place of culture in society has also been included. Argument over the fable's ambivalent meaning has generally been conducted through adaptation or reinterpretation of the fable in literature, arts and music. ...


... the point of view in most retellings of the fable is supportive of the ant. It is also influenced by the commendation in the biblical Book of Proverbs, which mentions the ant twice. The first proverb admonishes, " Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest." ( 6.6-9.) Later, in a parallel saying of Agur, the insects figure among the "f our things that are little upon the earth but they are exceeding wise. The ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer." ( 30.24-5 ) ... an alternative tradition also ascribed to Aesop in which the ant was seen as a bad example. This appears as a counter-fable and is numbered 166 in the Perry Index. It relates that the ant was once a man who was always busy farming. Not satisfied with the results of his own labour, he plundered his neighbours' crops at night. This angered the king of the gods, who turned him into what is now an ant. Yet even though the man had changed his shape, he did not change his habits and to this day goes around the fields gathering the fruits of other people's labour, storing them up for himself.



The New Oxford Book of Seventeenth Century Verse - ed Alastair Fowler

The Ant

Little thinkest thou, poor ant, who there
With so much toil and so much time
A grain or two to the cell doth bear,
There's greater work in the world than thine.

In the small republic too at home,
Where thou'rt perhaps some magistrate,
Little thinkest thou when thou dost come
There's greater in the world than that.

Nor is it such wonder now in thee,
No more of the world nor things dost know :
That all thy thoughts of the ground should be,
And mind on things so poor and low.

But that man so base mind should bear
To fix it on a clod of ground,
As there no greater business were,
Nor greater worlds for to be found !

He so much of man does want
As metamorphosed quite gain ;
Whilst thou'rt but man turned grovelling ant :
Such grovellers seem but ants turned men.

Richard Flecknoe

( written in 1653 - the year that Oliver Cromwell overthrew The Republic )
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