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Friday, March 07, 2008

Poetry Friday: Everything I Need To Know I Learned Through The Simpsons


Maybe not. But it's vastly increased my trivia knowledge. I can't think of any topic worth mentioning that hasn't been at least touched on in their 20 years on the air. Poetry has been no exception. Funny that a show many consider crass would explore a subject that crass people would consider too highbrow.

Poets.org mentioned the "fast paced references to Keats, Poe, Shakespeare, and Ginsberg [that] make poetry-lovers’ ears perk up" so I looked to find a catalogue of such references. Not having found one, I decided to compile them myself. It may or may not be complete as most relied on memory. If you know of more, leave me a note. Also, some are more tangential than others...

Maya Angelou from I Don't Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (could also be considered a reference to Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem "Sympathy" from which Maya Angelou took the title "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings")

Anonymous from Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo "I once knew a man from Nantucket... Let's just say the stories about him are greatly exaggerated."

Basho from Little Girl in the Big Ten "Basho/ He named himself 'Banana Tree'" This line is actually from a Pinsky poem (see below). As he reads it, a bunch of jock-types with B-A-S-H-O across their chests stand up and cheer.

Charles Bukowski and Jack Kerouac from Moe'N'a Lisa "Moe, which writer has influenced you? Jack Kerouac? Chuck Bukowski? Me, Tom Wolfe?" This episode revolves around the poetry of Moe.

Robert Burns from The Trouble With Trillions "Auld Lang Syne" is played. I know this one is probably in every sitcom that has a New Year's Eve episode.

Lewis Carroll from A Hunka Hunka Burns In Love "Callooh, Callay!"

Samuel Taylor Coleridge from Boy Scoutz N The Hood "Water, water everywhere, so let's all have a drink."

Emily Dickinson from The Secret War of Lisa Simpson "Emily Dickinson lived alone, and she wrote some of the most beautiful poetry the world has ever known... then went crazy as a loon."

John Donne from Marge Be Not Proud

T. S Eliot from Little Girl in the Big Ten "April is the cruelest month"

Robert Frost from I Love Lisa "Hey Frostie, want some snow, man?" (as Krusty dumps snow on Robert Frost's head)

Allen Ginsberg from Bart vs. Thanksgiving "I saw the best meals of my generation/ destroyed by the madness of my brother"

Homer from Homer's Odyssey and Tales From The Public Domain "Hey, is this about that minivan I bought?"

AE Housman from The Last Temptation of Krust Krusty recites some of "To an Athlete Dying Young"

Langston Hughes from Moe Baby Blues "A dream deferred is a dream denied"

John Keats from The Secret War of Lisa Simpson Lisa's class is studying "Ode On a Grecian Urn"

Rudyard Kipling from Old Money "You'll be a man, my son."

Henry Wadworth Longfellow from Homer The Great "Have you ever noticed that the 'crossing the desert' is a lot like the 'unblinking eye', and is exactly like 'The Wreck of the Hesperus?'"

John Gillespie Magee, Jr from She of Little Faith "Son, we are about the break the surly bonds of gravity"

John McCrae from When Flanders Failed

John Milton from Bart the Genius "Paradise Lost" is on the book shelf in Bart's classroom.

Pablo Neruda from Bart Sells His Soul "I am familar with the works of Pablo Neruda"

George Plimpton (One of the founding editors of The Paris Review) from I'm Spelling As Fast As I Can "I don't know whether the weather will improve." (When he's asked to use the word in a sentence at a spelling bee.)

Robert Pinsky from Little Girl in the Big Ten "Open your mind to the Coltrane of the quatrain"

Sylvia Plath from Lady Bouvier's Lover Grampa: Who were your friends? Jackie: Oh, Zelda Fitzgerald, Frances Farmer, and little Sylvia Plath.

Edgar Allan Poe from Treehouse of Horror "Lisa, that wasn't scary. Not even for a poem."

Sir Walter Raleigh from The Regina Monologues Homer attempts escaping the Tower of London by using a secret tunnel built by Sir Walter Raleigh. However, it leads to the Queen's bedroom.

William Shakespeare from Treehouse of Horror III "Is this the end of zombie Shakespeare?"

Shel Silverstein from The Bart Wants What it Wants "The Giving Tree is not a chump" (Blackboard gag)

Walt Whitman from Mother Simpson Homer mistakenly believes Walt Whitman's grave is his mother's.

Lisa Simpson's Meditations on Turning 8:
I had a cat named Snowball...
She died!
She died!
Mom said she was sleeping...
She lied!
She lied!
Why oh why is my cat dead?
Couldn't that Chrysler hit me instead?

Marge Simpson's To My Husband:
The blackened clouds are forming...
Soon the rain will fall.
My dear one is departing.
But first, please heed this call...
That always will I love you,
My one...my love...my all.

Homer Simpson's Rapping Tomato:
There once was a rapping tomato
That's right, I said, "rapping tomato."
He rapped all day
From April to May
And also, guess what, it was me

12 comments:

TadMack said...

Wow. And you did all of this from memory?!

I do remember Lisa's poem about the cat... but not a whole lot else. Obviously I need to pay more attention!

Allison said...

Brilliant idea for a post. Well done, you.

I also remember Lisa's poem about the cat, as well as the Shakespeare zombie reference, the most.

jama said...

I'm totally impressed, John. Better start watching more of the Simpsons . . .

Kelly Fineman said...

There was The Regina Monologues episode in England, which definitely featured references to Macbeth, and I think possibly another poet/writer as well. Although as it's a play, not a poem, perhaps it doesn't count?

John Mutford said...

Tadmack: Not all were from memory, and even when they were I definitely didn't remember episode titles.

Allison: That was a memorable poem for sure. Too bad Homer interupted the ending, we might never know how it ended.

Jama: Well, maybe it's best to catch the reruns.

Kelly: They've had a lot of Shakespeare references over the years. I just picked one of my favourites. Though the scene with Ian McKellan outside of a theatre was pretty great too. As for the poet referenced, I did find one and have added it above- thanks!

Sara said...

If not for copyright restrictions, what a great mashup video this would be! I'm speechless at the digging you did.

jules said...

Best. post. ever. I'm a huge Simpsons fan.

That mic-check moment with T.S. Eliot is one of my favorite Simpsons moments (isn't it a guy checking out the mic at the poetry reading who is all "April is the cruellest month, April is the cruellest month"). That always makes me laugh out loud.

I'm so impressed. You're my new hero.

Jules, 7-Imp

Chris said...

Best Poetry Post Ever. And just to show what a Simpsons nerd I am: in the epidsode where Homer has a heart attack, he follows a truck hauling Edgar Allan Poe's birthplace up a hill.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Great idea for a post! I am a little disturbed by how familiar all these Simpsons' episodes are to me. No, I do not watch too much tv!

John Mutford said...

Sara: And they're tight on monitoring that stuff. I had linked to a Simpsons YouTube video showing J. Jonah Jameson as a poetry editor, but it was taken down before I went to publish.

Jules: You got it! Very funny moment. There's another great mic check in "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation."

Chris: Like Shakespeare, Poe has had a lot of references too. There's also the one where Lisa and Bart sabotage her rival's diorama of "The Tell Tale Heart"

Barbara: If you're watching that much Simpsons, your TV habits are fine. If it's all Rock of Love with Bret Michaels, they're not.

Bybee said...

Oh, John...not only are you Canadian, you know your Simpsons episodes well. I guess you're The Perfect Man. Too bad you're so damned young. Anyway, nice work!

Remi said...

I liked the one episode where they panned across the bookshelf in a classroom. All the books were banned at one time or another - Lady Chatterly's Lover, Sexus, Plexus and Nexus, etc.