A Tale Told By...

Hogarth's take on The Rake's Progress.

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

---Philip K. Dick

In a dark time, the eye begins to see.

---Theodore Roethke

Poetry arrived to look for me. I don't know, I don't know where it came from, from winter or river, I don't know how or when. No, there weren't voices, there weren't words, or silence.

---Pablo Neruda

From The Boston Globe, Tuesday~~~

A tale told by an idiot
By Globe Staff | August 4, 2009

“The Sheriff at the Gates: A Farce in Three Acts’’

Act One

(A street in Cambridgeham. Most Exalted University Professor HENRY LOUIS GATES, freshly returned from the Land of the Asian Khan, is rattling the door of his keep. Enter a WENCH.)

WENCH: Alarum! Alarum! A thief is about!

GATES: Peace, ye fat guts!


CROWLEY: Stay, now! Who disturbs our peaceful shire?

GATES: I disturb no man. My key unlocketh not.

CROWLEY: Forsooth, thou breakest and enterest.

GATES (entering his castle): I break not for witless constables. Begone!

CROWLEY: Back speaks no man to the Sheriff; I arrest thee!

GATES: Knowest thou whom I am? That I am coy with the Daily Beastmistress, Milady Tina? That I am most down with Lady Oprah, the Queen of afternoon tele-dalliances? That I am sworn liege to Dr. Faust, of whom Marlowe wrote? That I unravelest literary mysteries at the Greatest University Known to Man?

CROWLEY: Of Tufts you speak? Even so, thou art under arrest.

GATES: Thou detaineth me because I am a Moor!

CROWLEY: Some of my best friends are Moors. Your pleas availeth not.

GATES: You shall rue the day you crost my threshold.

CROWLEY: Thou dost protest too much. (Escorts the handcuffed GATES offstage.)

Act Two

(Inside the faraway White Palace, where KING BARACK and his faithful DUKE AXELROD confer in an egg-shaped hall.)

AXELROD: The people are restless, sire.

BARACK: Aye, I offereth free poultices and physic to every man, woman, and child, but they spurn my generosity.

AXELROD: Their minds are elsewhere, at the ocean strand, or the playing fields of Fen.

BARACK: Yet I promise them health and long life. With but small increases in the annual tithes.

AXELROD: The people need distraction, my lord.

BARACK: A conflagration perhaps? My Israelite allies yearn to strike Nineveh. . .

AXELROD: Nay, the peasants tire of foreign entanglements. Forget not the disastrous reign of the House of Bush. (A page enters, and hands AXELROD a scroll.) What here? A saucy tale from Cambridgeham. The Sheriff has arrested a Moor for crimes unbefitting a gentleman.

BARACK: Stupid sheriffs arrest many Moors.

AXELROD: Perhaps in the Chicagoland of our youthful acquaintance, my lord. Not so many in Cambridgeham. ’Tis a most gentil and parfit place.

BARACK: Who is the man, and what is his crime?

AXELROD: ’Tis the Most Exalted University tutor Gates. Back has he spoken to the Sheriff, unbidden.

BARACK: Gates? I know this man. We have supped together on the enchanted Isle of Martha’s Vineland. I have seen him with Lady Oprah, prating about his ancestry.

AXELROD: Perhaps a photo op, my lord? We invite Gates and the Sheriff here, quaff ale in the summer heat, and proclaim peace and brotherhood among all men.

BARACK: And savor tobacco from the Duke of Marlboro?

AXELROD: Not with the people watching, sire. (Turns to page) Summon them here!

Act Three

(In the garden of the White Palace, GATES, BARACK and CROWLEY are sipping ale, joined by the FOOL.)

FOOL: What? No beer nuts?

BARACK: Silence, Fool! Or back to Delaware with you.

FOOL (sniffing his glass, suspiciously): What beer is this? I smell the filth of Antwerp and Bruges.

BARACK: ’Tis our nation’s finest, lately of St. Louis, now in foreign hands.

FOOL (Aside): ’Tis a light man that drinks a light beer.

BARACK: Enough prattle! We gather to share ale, and indulge in manly talk of harmony among our tribes.

FOOL: This is no manly talk. Women speak of harmony and quilt-making. Men speak of Signors Ortiz and Ramirez, and the forbidden magic elixirs of the Fen.

BARACK: Enough, Fool! (To GATES and CROWLEY) Now let us raise our cups and swear eternal friendship.

GATES (lifting his glass): I hail the Sheriff and the worthy constabulary! But for them, my name would not have spread beyond our shores, even to the Indes, Cochin, and beyond.

CROWLEY (toasting): I hail the learned tutor! That his castle door may henceforth spring open at his touch, and his neighbors mind their own knitting.

BARACK: All hail the new era of hope and change, when Moor and Sheriff like buds are hugging.

FOOL (belching, loudly): Another round, perhaps? We have only started chugging . . .

(Exit ALL, laughing.)


  1. Master Jazzo hath enlivened the scene with a merry revel.

  2. "Harmony and quilt-making," this mater is wonders precious, but the entent of it is more gracious and swete to bere awaye.

    This song shall shewe you how it is. Let us take counsell here as well as we can~~

    My husband's a mason, a mason, a mason
    My husband's a mason, a mason is he
    All day he lays bricks, he lays bricks,
    He lays bricks
    And at night he comes home and drinks tea.

    Hey rig-a-jig, kiss a little pig
    Follow the band
    Follow the band with your tool in your hand
    Hey rig-a-jig, kiss a little pig
    Follow the band
    Follow, follow the band

    My husband's a plumber, a plumber, a plumber
    All day he screws pipes, he screws pipes,
    And at night he comes home and drinks tea

    My husband's a carpenter, a carpenter, a carpenter
    All day he bangs boards, he bangs boards
    And at night he comes home and drinks tea

    My husband's a jockey, a jockey, a jockey
    All day he mounts horses, he mounts horses
    And at night he comes home and drinks tea

    My husband's a postman, a postman, a postman
    All day he licks stamps, he licks stamps
    And at night he comes home and drinks tea

    My husband's an executive, an executive, an executive
    All day he succeeds, he succeeds
    And at night he comes home and drinks tea

    My husband's a folk singer, a folk singer, a folk singer
    All day he plucks strings, he plucks strings
    And at night he comes home and drinks tea

    My husband's a loafer, a loafer, a loafer
    All day he drinks tea, he drinks tea
    And at night la da dada dada

  3. Master Substitute Bartender doth sing a merry song la da dada dada. Dada?

  4. "All's well that ends with ale" then, as the NYT sayeth.

    Very clever piece!

    It sure does help put things back in perspective.

    And charmingly written (no matter the nitpicking of the purists).

  5. Damn the purists! Damn them straight to the fiery pit!

  6. You've gotta admire the main dude in the painting. There he is, his right leg up in the air...not really resting on the table, just up in the air, maybe to make room for activity in the region of tight jeans. Is he just contemplating his schedule for the rest of the day, as the lovely undoes his cravat and shirt? Meanwhile on the other side of the pile of clothes on the floor, another lady seems to be taking off a shoe and perhaps wondering if things are shaping up for the threesome. But notice how steadily and levelly he holds that drink in his left hand. Ah, a man with a sense of priorities!

  7. Hmpf! What's the big deal? It's just deja vu all over again. Been there done that.

    Is there not a back room here at the Wulfshead.......?

  8. I'm surprised Quinty remembers. Heh heh, in fact the guy looks like you, man.

  9. The secrets of the back room remain most discrete, at least I hope.

  10. there's a back room? Why do I miss all the good stuff?

  11. The gentleman and the gentlelady need not concern themselves:

    There's no back room, sir ;-)

    Or, too many to count, Ma'am.

    Why, only last night, there was that visitor at the bar, alleging that this is the back room. The back room of what? I wonder.

    He told me someone had directed him here contending this was it. Whatever he meant by that.

    The gentleman did look a bit out of sorts, I must say. Like someone in need of a strong drink. Or maybe it is that he had had too many already.

    Too many to count.

    I am not sure.

  12. Well, after a certain point, it's hard to tell the back room from the front room. It may all be simply a matter of the “spirit of place?”

    In the mind a back room and a front room may sometimes be in conflict. In fact, I am sure I have had lovers who told me, many, many years ago, that I actually had such a problem. (It can indeed be shocking when a lover offers such an intimate revelation before dumping you.)

    Even if the back room doesn't literally exist, though, it is still a good place to keep in mind. Some who enter into the front room may be seeking the atmosphere of the back room. That it may not actually exist may express the desires and wills of those lined up at the bar in the front room. Though it may only always remain a noble ideal?

    That is my most humble, drunken analysis of the matter. And through the buzz I am willing to hear a reply, if anyone would like to take this serious matter up?

  13. I thought there was an upper room and a lower room. The gang at Hogarth's seems definitely to be in an upper room. Isn't that a harp in the duo...which seems to include a trumpet? Is Gabriel getting ready to blow? This is a serious moment for any rake! Also please note the 2 serviceworkers, ready with a towel, basin, and candle. Apparently if a big mess is created, a trip for the offender to the lower room may be in order. Perhaps we should repair to Mr. Wilson's front room where conversations with Sherlock, Rasputin, and Frankenstein seem so much more civilized.

  14. Are we all talking about the same bar? The events depicted in the Hogarth seem blurred, but then I was drinking a lot that night.

    I know a guy who went to the bar on the upper floor and fell out the window. Nobody down on the street noticed since, after all, the place he fell out of is well known throughout the neighborhood. Why, on some evenings at least three or four patrons fall out the window. I've done it myself. Try it! You might like it.

    Problem with drinking next to Frankenstein is that he has big elbows. They tend to poke over onto my side of the bar, nocking over my glass. I've complained about him to the bartender but he, the bartender, appears indifferent. I don't want to meet Frankenstein outside.