A Fallen London Epic Poem

One of the choices in the Court is to write an epic poem for fame, glory, and a little pin money. I’m sure many of us have gone through that process many times. But who is crazy enough to actually try it? C’est moi, as Lancelot would say.

What follows is the beginning of a work-in-progress: an Epic poem about life in the Neath. Some may consider it silly, some even subversive. Well, you get out of it what you put into it. You may find knights herein, and fair damoselles, and maybe a villain or dragon. Only thing is, they’ll mostly be about four feet tall. This is a poem about life as an Urchin.

&quotThe Ralphiad&quot

My name is Ralph, an’ my story is sad
I’ve been on the streets since I was a lad
Can’t remember me mum, nor even Dad
An’ everyone says that I’m very bad.

Me mates are Danny, an’ Bobby an’ Keith
An’ Rowdy Richard wot ain’t got no teef.
We run in the streets an’ roofs of the ‘Neath
An’ laugh wit’ the hoors, an’ sport wit’ the thief.

The ‘Neath is dark, an’ the streets they are cold
An’ everything here can be bought or sold.
It ain’t a place where you’ll likely grow old
An’ as for the streets, they ain’t paved in gold.

Now, me and Richy were angin’ about
When all of a sudden, there comes a shout:
A copper wuz chasing a racing tout
So the local gentry, they all come out.

The fly men got mad, and put in the boot
The bookie ran off wit’ his sack o’ loot.
Out come the whistle, and give it a toot
The fists were flyin’, but he was a brute.

His stick was a-workin’, and elbows, too.
They outnumbered him, but still were too few.
Around the corner come more men in blue
An’ a lovely punch-up it were, for true.

The claret was flowin’ an’ ‘eads were broke
I looks at Richy an’ gives ‘im a poke.
We gets in the crowd, an’ robs a few foke
Who’s too busy fightin’ or hasn’t woke.

A few that went down stayed down for a while
‘Cause Constable Smith, he hits like a pile.
An’ when that happens, I puts on a smile
'Cause that means dinner for this hungry chile.

A handful of glim, and some rostygold
Means rat in the evenin’ where food is sold.
And mebbe some ketchup, for truth be told
Rat wit’out ketchup, well it tastes like mold.

An’ this I know, 'cause I’ve eat it before
I can’t say it leaves me ‘ungry for more.
But yer belly’s empty when you are poor
An’ the noise it makes is hard to ignore.

You’ll take what you get, and like it real fine
When evenin’ comes down an’ it’s time to dine.
If it ain’t nailed down, I figger it’s mine
Even moldy mushrooms pickled in brine.

When dinner is done, it’s out wit’ the pipe
An’ a mug o’ ale – you don’t need to wipe.
I never been the partickiler type
I’m happy wit’ anything I can kype.

We made a good haul, ol’ Richy an’ me
Got near forty pence to put to our tea.
Ain’t no-one better at dippin’ than we
At least when the mark ‘as sumpin’ to see.

The fight was startin’ to settle on down
So me and Richy, we don’t hang aroun’.
Up to the roofs into old Urchin town
But Darby the Arm is there wit’ a frown.

Now, Darby’s muscle for the Cheery Man
He takes insurance whenever he can.
He don’t say nothin’, just holds out his han’
And we give it over, you bet, by Dan!

‘Cause Darby will hurt you quick as a blink
An’ he’d rather draw blood than eat or drink.
You see him comin’, yer heart starts to sink
But bones that ain’t broke are better, I think.

We gives up our booty, he gives a nod
An’ spares the child from the stroke o’ the rod.
An’ that’s a good trade, don’t dare think it odd
I’d rather be broke than dead as a cod.

Easy-come, easy-go, that’s wot I say
Tomorrow may be a luckier day.
Somedays it is true, that crime just don’t pay
That’s life in the Neath, lived the Urchins’s way.
edited by Michile on 11/26/2015

Lovely! (I should stop saying things like “Lovely.” Sometimes I speak in-character even when I don’t want to.) You have such a good command of rhythm, and I think the streetrat lingo captured the flavour very nicely. I tried RPing as an urchin sub-character once and it was bad. I couldn’t figure things out. I remember saying “guv” a lot and that was about it.

More stanzas will be forthcoming. I figure it’s not an epic unless it has at least a thousand quatrains.

On a somewhat related note, I thought it would be interesting to design and stage one of the &quotget banished&quot works - IRL. They’d be more acceptable today. I guess this counts as a challenge…
edited by KestrelGirl on 11/25/2015

That was …well… EPIC! :bow:

uncharted claims.

uncharted claims.

uncharted claims.

Eventually, broken colours shiver.

Flickering gleams keep on contracting to points so puny
and ardously to spot.

Presage: visuals incoming.

Within the great white there is no noise,
no horizon, no ground
no north to be bound for, no extension,
but vastness of stately proportions,
relations renounced.

crescending and fading.

“Memories”, we name all kinds of dingdong
or left behind at some time
beyond recent.

While Arago’s point I can see, clearly
other’s I don’t.

Also: she beats me fair and square,
one precious thing she grapples,
in that game of knifes and candles.
Didn’t push me down the apples,
but still there is one thing:
you took my ring.

So this is how this’s handl’d:
one day we’ll meet again, my friend and then
(before you comprehend)
your ass is knife-and-candl’d by these fine
Savage hub-nailed boots of mine.

edited by Baron Leichtsinn on 11/25/2015

Well, that was just the prologue. On we go, with:

Canto the First

Saturday evening, eighteen-ninety-two
I’m up on the roof wit’ Danny and Lou.
Down at Miss Betty’s, they’ve started a queue
She’s got a new girl, they say her name’s Sue.

I pass Dan the wink, an’ pull out my line
That gentleman’s ‘at, it sure do look fine.
A flick o’ my wrist, an’ that topper’s mine.
Amazin’, what you can do with some twine.

The mug looks around, but can’t find his ‘at
An’ he and his neighbour begin to spat.
They start in to fight, but trip on the cat
They really oughtern’t behave bad like that.

The others in line, they’re gettin’ quite mad
They tell Mister No-‘at ‘e is a cad.
It starts lookin’ warm, an’ that makes me glad
'Cause in a nice spat, there’s pelf to be had.

But it dies down quick, they don’t want a fight
They’re here for some fun, an’ most of 'em tight.
Miss Betty is gonna make piles tonight
While all of the men sample Sue’s delight.

Beats workin’, I guess, though I don’t see why
All of Miss Betty’s girls constantly cry.
I hear 'em say with a soft little sigh
That maybe their knight will come by and by.

Now, don’t get me wrong, them girls is happy
It’s just, bein’ girls, they’re kind o’ sappy.
They always laugh when out with their chappie
Lessen’, that is, they made him a pappy.

Well, life is hard, an’ a girl’s got to eat
At least they don’t get cow shit on their feet.
Miss Betty won’t ever let them get beat
By some drunken lout gone mad with the heat.

They got a roof, an’ a fire, an’ a bed
A guaranteed place to lay down their ‘ead.
They’d be walkin’ the streets alone instead
An’ beggin’ a crust for their daily bread.

She gives ‘em dresses, an’ nice jewels, too
O’course they’re paste, but they shine just like new.
The work ain’t hard, though I guess there’s a few
Who think it’s nasty an’ sinful to do.

They’re most of them nice, though, they give me sweets
When they’re promenadin’ out in the streets.
An’ one of 'em likes this poet named Keats
I think he’s sissy, but she thinks he’s neat.

Karen’s ‘er name, an’ she’s pretty an’ nice.
The chaps all agree that she’s worth the price.
She’s a good sport when she loses at dice.
'As a cat named Frank ‘cause she’s scared o’ mice.

She knows how to read, an’ even write, too!
An’ likes to wear clothes of yellow an’ blue.
A chap ast her why she does what she do
&quotJust lucky,&quot she said, with a little coo.

She can make you laugh, she’s a jolly sort.
Truth to tell, she is a bit fond o’ port.
She’s always ready for all kinds o’ sport
An’ when I grow up, she’ll be my consort.

Now, don’t you dare laugh, it ain’t so funny
‘Cause someday soon, I’ll have lots o’ money.
I’ll buy her rings an’ prisoner’s honey.
'An we’ll ‘ave a boy an’ name him Sonny.

An’ he’ll know his Dad, and he’ll love his Mum
An’ never forget the place he come from.
I’ll buy him a horn, an’ mebbe a drum
An’ he’ll never be lackin’ for a crumb.

That’s in the future, but now it is time
To sell off this loverly ‘at o’ mine.
Out there in the street, they still stand in line
Miss Betty an’ Karen an’ all are fine.

Miss Betty is old, she’s thirty or more
But her boyfriends number more than a score.
They come to the house an’ knock on the door
An’ after they leave, they’re all pretty poor.

She makes lots o’ blunt, but blows it on booze
Her &quotdisorderly house&quot stays in the news
When the coppers come, she doesn’t refuse
But just lets 'em have the girl that they choose.

The Enforcers, though, they don’t care for quail
An’ try as she might, she can’t make a sale.
It’s money they want, an’ that without fail
An’ that’s when Miss Betty seems kind o’ frail.

She stumps it up, she don’t hurt for ready
But after they leave, she looks unsteady.
I don’t blame her, you don’t mess with Neddy
But mebbe I said enuff already.
edited by Michile on 11/26/2015

Hello again, delicious friends. Now, a seasonable addition to the epic of Ralph:

Canto the Second

Sacksmas in the Neath is a time o’ joy,
Lessen’, that is, you’re a poor orphan boy.
You won’t never get the gift o’ a toy,
But there’s lots of rich folk out to annoy.

Folk come aroun’ an’ give candy an’ such
Free out in the steets, but don’t take too much.
Some of them people are good for a touch
Or mebbe you cut their purse in a clutch.

There’s stuff on the ceiling, it falls like snow
(But, born in the Neath, I don’t really know).
Lacre, they call it, it has a nice glow
People will buy it, it brings lots o’ dough.

So, me an’ the gang were out on the prowl
An’ mebbe it was we looked pretty foul.
When we pass this mutt, he begins to growl
‘Cause we got some fish an’ chips in a towel.

He tries to grab it, but we hold it high
No dog’s gonna get our river-eel pie!
But he bites Keith’s leg, who begins to cry
He’s a sissy, but he’s not a bad guy.

The mutt is frantic, he’s hopin’ to feed
It’s the funniest thing I ever see’d.
But I’ll tell ya, food is what we all need
An’ fish-an’-chips pie is real good, indeed!

Keith’s leg is bleedin’, the mutt’s barkin’ loud
Might could be we’re drawin’ a bit o’ crowd.
Well, that’s opportunity, we ain’t cowed
We’ll grab what we can long as we’re allowed.

Dan takes the fish to the Tankard an’ Keg
While I gets a hanky to bind Keith’s leg.
The dog stops barkin’ an’ starts in to beg
While Bobby picks pockets with Pat an’ Meg.

Yeah, we let some girls in the gang sometimes,
They’re good for pickin’ up nickles an’ dimes.
Nobs think they’re cute, when they’re skippin’ to rhymes
Over by the steps o’ the House o’ Chimes.

The rich folks watch, an’ that gives us a chance
To lift a purse in a intricate dance:
While they watch the girls, we get in their pants.
(No, I ain’t talkin’ ‘bout makin’ romance!)

They talk too much, though, it’s kind o’ a bore,
But with their help, we can make quite a score.
A little profit is hard to ignore
So we’ll work with them, if it gets us more.

Danny’s got away with our evenin’ meal
Keith’s weepy, but game, an’ that’s a good deal.
The butcher comes out, an’ makes the dog heel
The gang has gotten all that it can steal.

We all go inside, an’ sort out the loot
All-in-all, I’d say it’s been quite a hoot.
We all have some ale, an’ go on a toot
An’ little Peg, she gets out her tin flute.

We sing Sacksmas songs, an’ have some more ale
Eat some fish an’ chips that ain’t even stale.
We’re snug in the pub, an’ none are in gaol
An’ that is the end o’ my Sacksmas tale.

I hear there’s people will take care o’ kids
So long, that is, that you do as they bids.
I’d rather be free, though I’m on the skids.
My life is my own, though not worth two quids.

And you call me crazy.

– Mal

I wander through each stolen street,
Near where the stolen Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of order, marks of law.

In every pendulum’s tireless swing,
In every whirling clockwork gear,
In every voice, in every thing,
The God-forged harmony I hear.

How the Chimney-sweeper’s sigh
Prevents the shining Church’s collapse;
And how the Soldier’s battlecry
Redraws in blood the Nation’s maps.

But most through midnight streets I hear
How the Railway Guardian’s shout
Dispels each traveller’s worst fear
And guides false-stars along their routes.

The plot thickens, and some of Fallen London’s better-known citizens make an appearance.

Canto the Third

I remember the year of ninety-two
That summer’s day when the gaslights burned blue.
Larkin’ on the roofs with Bobby and Lou
Lookin’ for somethin’ new an’ fun to do.

Down there in the street, a procession comes
Ringin’ bells, singin’, an’ beatin’ on drums.
Throwin’ loose change to the Topsy King’s bums
Along with roses and chrysanthemums.

This toff named Nigel is out on a spree
‘Cause him an’ his mates is going to Zee.
They’ve got this old box what ain’t got a key
An’ think Polythreme is where it will be.

Mister Overstreet’s a right ol’ dandy
He’s got a soft heart, an’ gives us candy
He won’t say &quotno&quot to a touch o’ brandy
But if he has to fight, he’s real handy.

They’re dancin’ and drinkin’ on the jetty
Louise and Kate are down from Miss Betty,
Out from the circus they’ve brought the yeti
They’re tootin’ horns an’ throwin’ confetti.

This Kaigen feller came acrosst this box
In a old, damp cellar down in the Docks.
It ain’t got no hinges, but seven locks
Whatever’s in it is heavy as rocks.

On a shelf next to it, there was this note:
&quotIf you want the Key, you must have a boat
And make your way to where the roads emote.&quot
(But the note got ate by the Ubergoat)

So they’re off to Polythreme for a lark
In Overstreet’s big, luxurious bark.
The bell starts to ring, the engines to spark
An’ away they go, off into the dark.

Then me an’ Bobby an ‘Louie an’ Pat
We make our way to the Starveling Cat
Cecil’s place, where the Haunted Ones’r at.
For a sup o’ tea an’ a little chat.

The place was full o’ Seekers o’ the Name
Who pursue one goal wit’out any shame:
They don’t want riches, nor even fame,
But the thirst for knowledge they can’t quite tame.

Alex Feld was there, talkin’ ‘bout some well
Where he was campin’ for the longest spell
It lay to the North, in an island dell
The island’s gone now – to where, who can tell?

Spacemarine had a dream, he told the tale
Of a candle lit in a howling gale.
The rain poured down, but it burned wit’out fail
Far to the North in a long-hidden vale.

A crowd o’ rats was dancin’ around it
One played a fiddle, an’ he wouldn’t quit
He played an’ played, an’ that candle stayed lit
Though buckets o’ rain an’ big hailstones hit.

Out o’ the darkness, he heard a voice say:
&quotCome seek me out for the Reck’ning to pay.
The King of All Rats can show you the way
If you can find him by St. Crispin’s Day.&quot

Well, I guess a hunt for the King o’Rats
Is just the right thing for some Starveling Cats.
Wit’ two legs or four, if it comes to that.
Next thing you know, they’re sending word by bat.

Everyone wants to get out on the quest
They try to decide which one of them’s best.
But all want to go an’ start on the test
'Cause they all think it’s been too long a rest.

Cooperation ‘as gone by the board
They’ve gone turned into a bickering horde.
Each Seeker demands he not be ignored
An’ me and me mates are no longer bored.

Away they go, runnin’ every which way
Me an’ the gang are the only who stay.
Mister Cecil says, &quotIt’s been quite a day!&quot
We watch Nigel’s yacht sail off in the bay.

The bats are circlin’ round up in the sky
An’ carryin’ messages on the sly.
I don’t feel so good, an’ I’ll tell you why:
There’s trouble comin’, I tell you no lie.
edited by Michile on 2/20/2016

I’m not really good in english, so poetry in this language is difficult for me, but I really like your texts Michile, they… flow very naturally, be it the rythm or the atmosphere it holds. :)