Saturday, April 14, 2012

Don Marquis and Archy’s “a spider and a fly”

a spider and a fly - By don Marquis - and archy

i heard a spider and a fly arguing
wait said the fly
i serve a great purpose
in the world
you will have to
show me said the spider
i scurry around
gutters and sewers
and garbage cans
said the fly and gather
up the germs of
typhoid influenza
and pneumonia on my feet
and wings
then i carry these germs
into the households of men
and give them diseases
all the people who
have lived the right
sort of life recover
from the diseases
and the old soaks who
have weakened their systems
with liquor and iniquity
succumb it is my mission
to help rid the world
of these wicked persons
i am a vessel of righteousness
scattering seeds of justice
and serving the noblest uses
it is true said the spider
that you are more
useful in a plodding
material sort of way
than i am but i do not
serve the utilitarian deities
i serve the gods of beauty
look at the gossamer webs
i weave they float in the sun
like filaments of song
if you get what i mean
i do not work at anything
i play all the time
i am busy with the stuff
of enchantment and the materials
of fairyland my works
transcend utility
i am the artist
a creator and a demi god
it is ridiculous to suppose
that i should be denied
the food i need in order
to continue to create
beauty i tell you
plainly mister fly it is all
damned nonsense for that food
to rear up on its hind legs
and say it should not be eaten
you have convinced me
said the fly say no more
and shutting all his eyes
he prepared himself for dinner
and yet he said i could
have made out a case
for myself too if i had
had a better line of talk
of course you could said the spider
clutching a sirloin from him
but the end would have been
just the same if neither of
us had spoken at all
boss i am afraid that what
the spider said is true
and it gives me to think
furiously upon the futility
of literature

Excerpt from THE BEST OF ARCHY AND MEHITABEL © 2011 by Everyman’s Library. Excerpted by permission of Everyman’s Library a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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