An Ode to Plumbers who learn Greek (retro-fitted, luv, in Greek dactylic hexameter*)

Enoch², oh, never did I like his
Odious Racism and Hate!
But then I heard him speak, one day on
Bee-Bee-Cee Radio, that time
The interviewer asked him: “Today
What’s the point
Teaching
Ancient
Greek?”

It strikes me, now, how Enoch answered,
As one who speaks platonic’lly:
If” he asked “Tween plumbers, two, same skilled
You had to choose
One which knew Greek –
the other, who did not – What would be
Your best choice,
ceteris
paribus³?”

I asked my Mum, for fun, what she thought.
She, wryly turned to me and said
The one with Greek! for he’d have more to
Say than one
Who
Just talks
Football.

So, next time, for a fix, a plumber, you should call
Ask yourself one thing.
Do I want it, that my leaks remain, purely as
Technical affairs?
Or is it better for plumbers to see their work
As his’tries to tell?
As daring tap-repair Odysseys?
Or even cosy
Sapphic
Baths?

*Luv is an expression, commonly used in northern England, by plumbers towards their clients, as a term of address, especially, but not necessarily, for a person regarded as likeable [Collins]. Dactylic hexameter is a form of metre or rhythmic scheme frequently used in Ancient Greek and Latin poetry. Many poets have attempted to write dactylic hexameters in English, though few works composed in the meter have stood the test of time. Although the rules seem simple, it is hard to use classical hexameter in English, because English is a stress-timed language that condenses vowels and consonants between stressed syllables, while hexameter relies on the regular timing of the phonetic sounds. Languages that are not stress-timed include Ancient Greek, Latin, Lithuanian and Hungarian. [Wikipedia]

²John Enoch Powell MBE (16 June 1912 – 8 February 1998) was a British politician, classical scholar, author, linguist, soldier, philologist, and poet. He became famous for his “Rivers of Blood” speech, in 1968, in which he slated the rates of immigration into the UK. Though the expression “rivers of blood” did not appear in the speech, Powell made an allusion to a line from Virgil’s Aeneid which he quoted: “as I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood’. [Wikipedia]

³Ceteris paribus is a Latin phrase that means ‘other conditions being constant’ or ‘all else being equal’. The term is often used in economics to describe a situation where one determinant of supply or demand changes while all other factors remain unchanged. Such analysis is important because it allows economists to tease out a specific cause and effect. In practice, it is difficult to find such “all else being equal” situations because the world is complicated enough that it is typical for many factors to change at the same time. [Thought Co]

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About writingbrussels

Seven Writers. Three Languages. One City.
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