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Monday, April 04, 2005

Kipling Tuesday #3

Another illustration of the eternal nature of civil service corruption The lil ditty (indeed, Kipling included it in his "Departmental Ditties" so I'm not using the term in a demeaning fashion) below always brings a wry smile to my face. Most of us have known a "Potipher Gubbins" in our own lives: someone who through connections, schmoozing ability (or outright brown-nosing), or other qualities rises far beyond their level of competence and reaps rewards far beyond their accomplishments. (In fact, such people are so common, there are whole classes of them: politicians, school administrators, petty bureaucrats of all stripes, etc.). So here's
Study of an Elevation, In Indian Ink This ditty is a string of lies. But-how the deuce did Gubbins rise? Potiphar Gubbins, C.E. Stands at the top of the tree; And I muse in my bed on the reasons that led To the hoisting of Potiphar G. Potiphar Gubbins, C.E., Is seven years junior to Me; Each bridge that he makes either buckles or breaks, And his work is as rough as he. Potiphar Gubbins, C.E., Is coarse as a chimpanzee; And I can't understand why you gave him your hand, Lovely Mehitabel Lee. Potiphar Gubbins, C.E., Is dear to the Powers that Be; For They bow and They smile in an affable style, Which is seldom accorded to Me. Potiphar Gubbins, C.E., Is certain as certain can be Of a highly paid post which is claimed by a host Of seniors -- including Me. Careless and lazy is he, Greatly inferior to Me. What is the spell that you manage so well, Commonplace Potiphar G.? Lovely Mehitabel Lee, Let me inquire of thee, Should I have riz to where Potiphar is, Hadst thou been mated to Me?
When I first read this (and as with much poetry, I of course read it aloud), it not only resonated with TRUTH, it answered an immediate need: I had another "contract" song to write to fullfill my grade in a composition class, and this text simply wrote its own song out for me--the ostinato in the accompaniment, the tune, the rest of the piano part, even the lovely lil "B" section interlude (once I moved the third verse down and swapped the positions of the last two verses). Thanks, Rudyard! :-) Yeh, I probably ought to dig that old exercise out, polish it up, fix a couple of places in the piano part, etc..., but why? It's not as though it's the kind of art song that'll find a lot f use. Still, it's an enjoyable sing for me, every now and then.