Poets on Pigs
Mary Buchanan, Noel Coward, Sian Davies, 'Mother Goose,' Alfred Scott Gatty,
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ogden Nash, Sara Teasdale, Christopher Smart,
a traditional anonymous poem and a poem by the composer
Twelve songs for mezzo soprano and piano
for Lisa Cutler Gomberg
i. The Pig
(Ogden Nash) [ 1
page, circa 22" ]
The Pig, if I am not mistaken,
Gives us ham and pork
Let others think his heart is big,
I think it stupid of the
ii. The Pig - A
Smart) [ 13 pages, circa 6' 55" ]
In ev'ry age, and each profession,
Men err the most by
But when the thing is clearly shown,
And fairly stated,
We soon applaud what we deride,
And penitence succeeds to
A certain Baron on a day
Having a mind to show away,
Invited all the wits and wags,
Foot, Massey, Shuter, Yates, and Skeggs,
And built a large commodious stage,
For the Choice Spirits of the age;
But above all, among the rest,
There came a Genius who profess'd
have a curious trick in store,
Which never was perform'd before.
all the town this soon got air,
And the whole house was like a fair;
But soon his entry as he made,
Without a prompter, or parade,
all expectance, all suspense,
And silence gagg'd the audience.
his head behind his wig,
With with such truth took off* a Pig,
swore 'twas serious, and no joke,
For doubtless underneath his cloak,
He had conceal'd some grunting elf,
Or was a real hog himself.
search was made, no pig was found--
With thund'ring claps the seats
And pit and box and galleries roar,
With--"O rare! bravo!"
Old Roger Grouse, a country clown,
Who yet knew
something of the town,
Beheld the mimic and his whim,
And on the
morrow challeng'd him.
Declaring to each beau and bunter
out-grunt th'egregious grunter.
The morrow came--the crowd was greater--
But prejudice and rank ill-nature
Usurp'd the minds of men and wenches,
Who came to hiss, and break the benches.
The mimic took his usual
And squeak'd with general approbation.
encore!" they cry--
'Twas quite the thing--'twas very high;
conceal'd, amidst the racket,
A real Pig berneath his jacket--
forth he came--and with his nail
He pinch'd the urchin by the tail.
The tortur'd Pig from out his throat,
Produc'd the genuine nat'ral note.
All bellow'd out--"'Twas very sad!
Sure never stuff was half so bad!
That like a Pig!"--each cry'd in scoff,
"Pshaw! Nonsense! Blockhead! Off!
The mimic was extoll'd, and Grouse
Was hiss'd and catcall'd
from the house.--
"Soft ye, a word before I go,"
Hodge--and stooping low
Produc'd the Pig, and thus aloud
stupid, partial crowd:
"Behold, and learn from this poor creature,
much you Critics know of Nature."
This Pig Went to Market
[ 1 page, circa 25" ]
This pig went to market,
That pig staid at home;
This pig had roast meat,
That pig had none;
This pig went to the
And cry'd week, week, for more.
iv. Dickory, dickory,
dare (Mother Goose)
[ 1 page, circa 22" ]
Dickory, dickory, dare,
The pig flew up in the air;
The man in brown
soon brought him down,
Dickory, dickory, dare.
Three Little Pigs
(Sian Davies) [ 9 pages, circa 4'
Long ago, in
days of old,
When pigs were pink and nights were cold
pigs lived with their mum
With curly tails upon their bum
she shooed them out the house
'Go!' she said. 'But be as quiet as a
The big bad wolf lies in wait-
He wants little pigs on his
They came upon a man selling straw.
Pig number one bought
more and more!
He took the itchy yellow hay
And built a house in only
Pigs two and three left their brother
Came upon a
peddler, then another.
Man number two was selling sticks
number three was buying bricks
They all had houses by the wood
his house each pig was stood.
The wolf returned, one sunny day,
saw the piggies out to play!
They saw the wolf-ran as fast as they
Into their houses, by the wood.
The wolf crept up to the house
And knocked upon its yellow door…
'No no! I won't let you
Not by the hairs on my chinny-chin-chin!'
The wolf let out a
And said to the pig in the house of straw:
and puff 'til my throat is sore!
I'm stronger than your yellow door!'
The pig was scared and ran away!
Left the wolf to the house of hay!
The same happened in the house of sticks
The piggies ran to the house
Again the wolf knocked on the door
The frightened pigs hit
The pigs were scared, the wolf was hungry
And fed up
with all this skullmongery!
He climbed the chimney-up and up!
Desperately wanting a pig for his sup!
Said pig one-'you know, we
Fill a cauldron with boiling water!
We've gotta go as fast as
Make the wolf fall in the pan!'
Down the chimney the big
Into the pan where hot water was kept!
The pigs were
happy-together they pranced
The wolf was dead! Oh how they danced!
Long ago, in days of old,
When wolves were dead and pigs were bold
Three little pigs left their mother
To live together-brother to brother.
[in memory of Miss Anne Gordon, of Guildford High School]
Copyright © 2001-2004 Sian Davies. All international rights reserved.
Used by permission.
vi. The Spectre Pig - A
Ballad (Oliver Wendell Holmes)
[ 15 pages, circa 11' 25" ]
It was the stalwart butcher man,
That knit his swarthy
And said the gentle Pig must die,
And sealed it with a vow.
And oh! it was the gentle Pig
Lay stretched upon the ground,
ah! it was the cruel knife
His little heart that found.
him then, those wicked men,
They trailed him all along:
They put a
stick between his lips,
And through his heels a thong;
and round an oaken beam
A hempen cord they flung,
And, like a mighty
All solemnly he swung.
Now say thy prayers, thou sinful
And think what thou hast done,
And read thy catechism well,
Thou bloody-minded one;
For if his sprite should walk by night,
better were for thee,
That thou wert mouldering in the ground,
bleaching in the sea.
It was the savage butcher then,
That made a
mock of sin,
And swore a very wicked oath,
He did not care a pin.
It was the butcher's youngest son,--
His voice was broke with sighs,
And with his pocket-handkerchief
He wiped his little eyes;
young and ignorant was he,
But innocent and mild,
And, in his soft
Out spoke the tender child:--
"Oh, father, father,
list to me
The Pig is deadly sick,
And men have hung him by his heels,
And fed him with a stick."
It was the bloody butcher then,
laughed as he would die,
Yet did he soothe the sorrowing child,
bid him not to cry;--
"Oh, Nathan, Nathan, what's a Pig,
shouldst weep and wail?
Come, bear thee like a butcher's child,
thou shalt have his tail!"
It was the butcher's daughter then,
slender and so fair,
That sobbed as if her heart would break,
her yellow hair;
And thus she spoke in thrilling tone,--
the tear-drops big:--
"Ah! woe is me! Alas! Alas!
The Pig! The Pig!
Then did her wicked father's lips
Make merry with her
And call her many a naughty name,
Because she whimpered so.
Ye need not weep, ye gentle ones,
In vain your tears are shed,
cannot wash his crimson hand,
Ye cannot soothe the dead.
bright sun folded on his breast
His robes of rosy flame,
over all the west
The shades of evening came.
He slept, and troops
of murdered Pigs
Were busy with his dreams;
Loud rang their wild,
Wide yawned their mortal seams.
struck twelve; the Dead hath heard;
He opened both his eyes,
suddenly he shook his tail
To lash the feeding flies.
of the hempen cord,--
One struggle and one bound,--
limb and leaden eye,
The Pig was on the ground!
towards the sleeper's house
His fearful way he wended;
And hooting owl
and hovering bat
On midnight wing attended.
Back flew the bolt, up
rose the latch,
And open swung the door,
And little mincing feet were
Pat, pat along the floor.
Two hoofs upon the sanded floor,
And two upon the bed;
And they are breathing side by side,
and the dead!
"Now wake, now wake, thou butcher man!
thy cheek so pale?
Take hold! take hold! thou dost not fear
To clasp a
Untwisted every winding coil;
wretch took hold,
All like an icicle it seemed,
So tapering and so
"Thou com'st with me, thou butcher man!"--
He strives to
loose his grasp,
But, faster than the clinging vine,
And open, open swung the door,
And, fleeter than
The shadowy spectre swept before,
The butcher trailed
Fast fled the darkness of the night,
And morn rose faint
They called full loud, they knocked full long,
They did not
Straight, straight towards that oaken beam,
A ghastly shape was swinging there,--
It was the butcher
vii. Piggy Patter, Piggy
Buchanan) [ 5 pages, circa 2' 15" ]
Oh, I'll sing of the pig, be he little or big,
can't very well do without him,
Tho' he cares not a fig to be neat or be
And hasn't much beauty about him.
But there's meat-juicy
meat-and spare ribs so sweet
That many times graces our table,
the head, and the feet, and the carcase complete,
And we oft eat as much
as we're able.
And there's lard-snowy lard-sometimes soft, sometimes
And we use it when doing our baking.
Oh, the pig is a pard that
we cannot discard,
Tho' sometimes new friends we be making.
the pig is a friend that will last to the end
Altho', as I've said he's
And to you I can send this good recommend
That he always
keeps doing his duty.
He may dig, he may root, and our gardens oft
But that, you must know is his natur';
We may after him scoot,
and threaten the "Brute"
And breathe out bad cess to the cratur'.
But then with a will he will come to us still
And thrive if we give him
If his trough we but fill with plenty of swill
good food I might mention.
And if we have cares in our money affairs,
If at any time there is a shortage,
Then the pig nobly shares, and our
burden oft bears
And he's great at reducing a mortgage.
pig is a gent, on mischief oft bent,
To take him all through he's a
But we will repent and lose many a cent
If we ever go back on
viii. The Star and the Pig
(Sara Teasdale) [ 4 pages,
circa 2' 45" ]
A white star born in the evening glow
Looked to the
round green world below,
And saw a pool in a wooded place
like a jewel her mirrored face.
She said to the pool: "Oh, wondrous deep,
I love you, I give you my light to keep.
Oh, more profound than the
That never has shown myself to me!
Oh, fathomless as the
sky is far,
Hold forever your tremulous star!"
But out of the woods as
night grew cool
A brown pig came to the little pool;
It grunted and
splashed and waded in
And the deepest place but reached its chin.
water gurgled with tender glee
And the mud churned up in it turbidly.
The star grew pale and hid her face
In a bit of floating cloud like lace.
Politics is where the pig (Gary
Bachlund) [ 4 pages, circa 1' 45" ]
when the pig
says that he's your mister big;
privately he gives a fig
while he wheels and deals
and steals and feels that this is his gig.
Lobbyists all bring him cash,
fattening his campaign stash,
lapping up the balderdash,
while they seal their deals
and squeal the
spiel's political hash.
Common folks bear common yokes,
fat cats come to play;
and the common woes of the common Joes
seem to get in the way.
Politics is when the pork
with knife and fork;
celebrate and pop the cork,
"Cheers" from Boston
to Austin, Key Largo to Fargo
and L. A. to New York.
and walks the walks,
'cross this big wide Pork Chop land"
"Pigs in Plunderland."
Oh yez, politics is when the pig
wheels and deals and steals
and feels that he's mister big.
Text -- Copyright © 2005 Gary Bachlund. All international
x. The Three Little Pigs
(Alfred Scott Gatty) [ 3
pages, circa 1' 05" ]
A jolly old sow once lived in a sty,
And three little
piggies had she,
And she waddled about saying "Umph! Umph! Umph!"
While the little ones said "Wee! wee!"
"My dear little brothers,"
said one of the brats,
"My dear little piggies," said he;
"Let us all
for the future say, Umph! Umph! Umph!"
And they wouldn't say "Wee! wee!
So after a time these little pigs died,
They all died of
From trying to hard to say "Umph! Umph! Umph!"
For they only
could say "Wee! wee!"
A moral there is to this little song,
A moral that's easy to see;
Don't try when you're young to say "Umph!
For you only can say "Wee! wee!"
xi. Early Bacon
(Archibald Stodart-Walker) [ 2 pages,
circa 55" ]
Early bacon, early bacon!
Oh, the pleasant sight to
Sires come down for early bacon,
With an egg and pot of tea.
Early bacon, early bacon!
Oh, the happy hours I fed,
Deep in joy
on early bacon,
Coming from a comfy bed.
Early bacon, early bacon!
That's the breakfast dish for me,
All alone with early bacon
paper on my knee!
xii. Any Part of Piggy
(Sir Noël Coward) [ 4
pages, circa 1' 25" ]
Any part of the piggy
Is quite alright
Ham from Westphalia, ham from Parma
Ham as lean as the Dalai
Ham from Virginia, ham from York,
Trotters, sausages, hot roast
Crackling crisp for my teeth to grind on
Bacon with or without
the rind on
I'm not a vegetarian.
I'm neither a
crank nor prude nor prig
And though it may sound infra dig
Any part of
the darling pig
Is perfectly fine by me.
Total cycle [ 62 pages, circa 32' 24" ]
Three Little Pigs
I had found posted on a website Sian Davies'
fanciful retelling of the tale of the "Three Little Pigs, and wrote asking
her permission to include it with the wonderful nonsense works of other
poets. She, at the time a student at Oxford, has granted permission for
this, and so I set her "Three Little Pigs" in memory of one her her
teachers, using four harmonic domains, each a minor third away from its
former. And so, the opening statement begins in C, with the progression
through to E flat, G flat and then A, as do the structural parts of the song
themselves follow the same logic.
The progression's harmonic elements are then
stretched apart in time and juxtaposition, each related then individually to
the original tonic, C major.
Reaching the domain of E-flat, the oft-heard
theme from the time of silent movies announcing the villain in the story
announces this villain - the wolf. Melodramatic as this portion of the story
is, it seems only right to draw from the greatest time in melodrama from the
early days of film and silent movie accompaniment. An accompanist should
therefore take liberty in overdoing this just a little -- please?
The wolf carries on through to the domain of
A major, distant from the original tonic of the song setting, as the plot
thickens with the stress of the harmonic distance.
The recapitulation of the harmonic series is
complete and climbs higher in the accompaniment as the triumphant pigs dance
and "prance" for joy at their victory over the dreaded wolf..
Sian's poem is a wonderful addition to the
tradition of children's tales and poetic nonsense which have given rise to
so many significant poets choosing to treat pigs among their topics of
interest, language craft and art. The cycle is meant for fun; performers
choosing the cycle or individual songs from it are therefore encouraged to
be sometimes "over the top." For the fun of it.
Lisa Cutler Gomberg
Known to musical theater audiences in southern California by her maiden
name, Lisa Cutler, this fine actress and musical theater performer has
played many of the standard Broadway roles, and debuted Buddy Ebsen's
Turn To the Right. Together we had sung a number of pops concerts in the
southland. I recall one fine performance of Wilde's The Importance of
Being Earnest, in which she starred. One of her passions is collecting
ceramic pigs, pewter pigs, clay pigs, pictures of pigs and pigs, pigs and
more pigs. It seemed quite natural to set these poems specifically for her.