Tag archive: Ode on the Mammoth Cheese

Hot Doggerel: Ode on the Mammoth Cheese Weighing over 7,000 Pounds

Galtee Cheese Block

The interweb may often be an ugly, querulous and hate-filled place, but one of its undeniable beauties is this. No matter how outré or perverse your particular enthusiasms are, you’re always only a click or two away from (virtually) rubbing up against some other soul who shares them. Suddenly no-one’s a weirdo…because everyone is.

It was not ever thus. I mean, consider the middle years of the nineteenth century. Top hats. Monocles. Fusty old patriarchs spoiling everyone’s fun. And, worst of all, they didn’t even have dial-up. Most people were lucky to have wind-up.

And so it was that the likes of Scots-Canadian James McIntyre (sometime poet and furniture maker) exercised their enthusiasms alone. Ostracised from their fellows by what probably seemed to them (interweb-less as they were) uniquely peculiar passions. Few pieces of verse have captured the isolating nature of maverickness and eccentricity better than McIntyre’s deliciously mature and creamy “Ode on the Mammoth Cheese Weighing over 7,000 Pounds”.

We have seen thee, queen of cheese,
Lying quietly at your ease,
Gently fanned by evening breeze,
Thy fair form no flies dare seize.

All gaily dressed soon you’ll go
To the great Provincial Show,
To be admired by many a beau
In the city of Toronto.

Cows numerous as a swarm of bees,
Or as the leaves upon the trees,
It did require to make thee please,
And stand unrivalled, queen of cheese.

May you not receive a scar as
We have heard that Mr. Harris
Intends to send you off as far as
The great World’s show at Paris.

Of the youth beware of these,
For some of them might rudely squeeze
And bite your cheek, then songs or glees
We could not sing, oh! queen of cheese.

We’rt thou suspended from balloon,
You’d cast a shade even at noon,
Folks would think it was the moon
About to fall and crush them soon.

Ok. So the guy liked cheese. A lot. More than is (or, presumably, was) conventional. But so what? Is cheese less worthy a subject for rime than, say, love? Or death? Or heavenly cherubim flitting hither and yon ‘neath the arch of a beauteous rainbow?

This was, after all, no ordinary cheese. It was a four tonne behemoth deemed worthy of display (before an agog public) “at a Toronto exposition circa 1855″.Or so my copy of Kathryn & Ross Petras’s Very Bad Poetry tells me It was, in other words, the Godzilla of cheeses. A thing awe-inspiring. A thing beautiful but terrible to behold. A thing that dangled precariously over the cynical heads of cheese sceptics (threatening to “fall and crush them soon”).

Anyway…the hour grows late-ish and I feel the muse swell within me. So before I slip into the sleeping bag of Morpheus I must away and pen some purple poesy on Yop, Monster Munch, Donkey Kong Jr, and all the other wonders that sometimes make life not totally suck.