Chapter & Verse

A correspondence corner for not-so-famous lost words

James Wallace seeks to learn the origin of, and find more verses of, parody lyrics for “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1,” by Edward Elgar. The parody runs, “My chicken has two legs,/Your chicken has none./My chicken can fly high,/Your chicken can’t even run!”

“suffering…is joy” (January-February). Jeffrey Sell recognized this slightly misquoted phrase as the final sentence of Russell Edson’s prose poem “Antimatter”; it appears in his 1994 collection The Tunnel: Selected Poems. The short work begins, “On the other side of a mirror there’s an inverse world,” and ends, “In such a world there is much sadness which, of course, is joy.”

“insightful commentary on conversation” (January-February). Robert Gillogly identified this description of the six participants contained within one conversation as an excerpt from chapter three of The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table (1858), by Oliver Wendell Holmes, A.B. 1829, M.D. 1836, LL.D. 1880. He adds that this “conversation about conversation” was later used by Harvard philosopher Josiah Royce in his Religious Aspect of Philosophy (1885) and by sociologist Charles Horton Cooley, who identified “at least 12 persons participating, six on each side,” in Life and the Student: Roadside Notes on Human Nature, Society, and Letters (1927).

“Rooty-toot-toot” (November-December 2005). Several correspondents mentioned women’s versions of this cheer. Edward Cole, as a youth in St. Louis, heard it sung about girls from Mary Institute (now the coed Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School). Others, including R.E.L. Knight, suggested the reference was to a generic finishing school. (Knight also shared “another bit of doggerel” from his mother that he has never heard elsewhere: “Pooh-pooh Harvard/ Pooh-pooh Yale./I got my larnin’/ Through the mail.”)

Send inquiries and answers to “Chapter and Verse,” Harvard Magazine, 7 Ware Street, Cambridge 02138.

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