Illustration of Tricoteuses knitting next to the guillotine.‘The Tricoteuses’ and Other Poetry by Frank L. Ludwig The Society November 9, 2019 Culture, Humor, Poetry 5 Comments The Tricoteuses The starving market women marched, marched on Versailles with kitchen knives; both marching and not marching meant they were endangering their lives. The ball got rolling, and the king was soon removed from absolute pow’r; then they were prevented from reaping their risky labour’s fruit. The new regime, just like the old, was not concerned about the poor, and so the women now were left outside the great Convention’s door. As heads kept rolling they looked on, thankful they were not theirs, perhaps; they sat beside the guillotine and kept on knitting liberty caps. Today we often vote against the ones in power, just to find the ones we voted for are of a similarly selfish mind. One crowd is out, the next is in, and yet no changes can be seen: what else is there for us to do than knit beside the guillotine? The Evil Host Once a landlord in a pretty valley ran its inn. His chilling look was feared, and so the city called his place ‘The Evil Host’s’: with every room he offered for a shilling he used to moan about his ha’penny costs. All the time he was forgetting salt and change for every table, every room that he was letting was minute and bare and cold, his meals were small and dear, his chairs unstable, his ale was flat and thin, his bread was old. He was wealthy, he was greedy, and he roamed the streets with pleasure: there he robbed the poor and needy, and he snatched the beggars’ hats. Another fav’rite pastime in his leisure was kicking wife and children, dogs and cats. On the outskirts of the valley lived the rich and cultivated. Once he walked along their alley, and the host became upset: he didn’t know them, for they celebrated in their own mansions every time they met. As the city’s sole purveyor he announced a public meeting to appoint himself Lord Mayor and proclaim the mayor’s law: no visit was allowed, no talk, no greeting outside the city’s inn for evermore; Everybody had to render contributions to his dive now; every critic and offender would be put to death at once; no public enemy’d be left alive now; the may’r will be succeeded by his sons. Thus enforcing law and orders his regime was constituted, and within the valley’s borders no one dared to talk again; the few who did were swiftly executed, and every night the inn was full of men. Nothing passed unknown: no stealthy visit and no word of gumption. His new customers were wealthy, so he charged a higher price: this caused his guests to limit their consumption which activated once again his vice. With a club he struck their heads and took their money and possessions, tore their mantles into shreds and left them bleeding on the floor. Nightclubbing was the strongest of his passions until they brought their valuables no more. Soon some helpers were recruited: his own wife, his sons and daughters broke into their homes and looted them and took what they could find. The host was bringing them their ales or waters; meanwhile his clan left not a nail behind. Facing poverty, his latest customers were now refraining from their visits, and his greatest business loss aroused his hate: mere fractions of his profits were remaining, and once again the host became irate. Thinking of a vengeful gesture, finally, one Sunday morning after Mass he changed his vesture and put on the mayor’s gown. He went to their estates; without a warning he lit a torch and burnt their houses down. Mighty flames were now appearing which destroyed their living places; after hours the smoke was clearing where their mansions once had been. In ragged clothes and with disfigured faces the few survivors stood before the inn. ‘Help us, please! Our living centre is destroyed, and we are leaving from the ruins – let us enter!’ But he laughed and held his spouse, ‘Why should we share the wealth we’ve been achieving? Go home and get a job and build a house!’ Some preferred to die as quickly as they could and started speaking to each other while some sickly ones went to the woods and prayed, and some refused to leave; the host was freaking, and with his guests he shot the ones who stayed. Soon the city celebrated with its self-appointed leader, and the Evil Host created loopholes for their hunting game. I’ll meet you in his inn tonight, dear reader: the host still serves, and Europe is his name. Frank L. Ludwig was born in Hamburg in 1964 and has lived in Sligo, Ireland since 1996. In 1999 he published The Reaper’s Valentine, his first poetry collection and was awarded a scholarship to the Yeats Summer School (where Seamus Heaney complimented him on “a very good feeling for the rhythm and the rhyme”). His poems have been published in magazines and anthologies in Ireland, the UK, the US, Switzerland and Germany. All of his works can be found here: http://franklludwig.com. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) 5 Responses Paul Oratofsky November 9, 2019 For “The Tricoteuses,” I submit that the last two stanzas say it all, and if the first four stanzas were eliminated, it would be a much stronger poem. Those last two stanzas are excellent. I feel the second poem needs a lot of work – especially fixing [too many] lines whose meter is [too far] off. Reply C.B. Anderson November 10, 2019 Paul, you accurately identified some of the problems with these poems, but there are others: the narrative in both poems is rather flaccid, and the diction often seems to serve no other purpose than to force a rhyme. And then there is the specter of false profundity. We all know already that politicians are corrupt — this isn’t news. No sane person would search for deeper meaning in a poem, if I happened to have written it, that went like this: I now so sorely wish That I had caught a fish. The second poem, in particular, strains a reader’s tolerance for random acts that lack specific motivation other than the author’s desire to move the story along. If the author’s idea is that acts of violence in the service of greed are senseless, then, as senselessly as the idea has been presented, the author has accomplished his self-appointed task. But I wouldn’t trust him with a pencil in his hand. Reply Monty November 10, 2019 Any piece – be it poetry or prose – which has as its first sentence: “Once a landlord in a pretty valley ran its inn” . . is thereafter beyond recovery. Reply C.B. Anderson November 11, 2019 Monty, Apparently, at some time or another, we both supped and took lodging at the very same inn. While you were there, did you hear the one about the traveling salesman and the farmer? It was, indeed, quite a pretty valley, but in a way it reminded me of the slough of despair. Reply Monty November 11, 2019 Indeed, I did once spend a night there. I’m afraid I didn’t hear the one about the travelling salesman and the farmer; but I did manage to catch the one about the travelling diction and the syntax . . and I can’t say I found it that funny. Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.