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A Tribune to Mrs. Malaprop

My fellow poets, lend me your arrears!
Of arms and divan I sing. Let’s have three cheers
For Mrs. Malaprop, that dole enchanting
tongue-tried Miss Communicating aunt
From Sheridan’s old comedy of mangers.
She spoke with verbal and linguini dangers.
Her word-choice wasn’t always quite erect
Nor sentence glamour fully circumspect.
But do not mealy view her speech askance
For, like great masters of Reconnaissance,
The words she drew came dully from the heart
Like Botticelli’s greatest warts of art!
To honor her I’ve gartered a few samples
Of malaprops—enjoin some free examples:
Now is the winter of our disco tent
So full of sound and furry, heavy-sent.
The better part of valor is distemper
So best to never file into a temper
Or weigh what roguish fools these morsels be!
As beverage is the sole of wit, we see
A timely rising tide will lift all bloat
And all swell will end swell, as Shakespeare wrote!

If you disliked these get thee to an ornery!
You’ll find no butter puns in a reformery.
Alright, my fronds! Please cease tomato flinging!
I am a man more sinned against than singing!

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Brian Yapko is a lawyer who also writes poetry. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


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28 Responses

  1. Cynthia Erlandson

    Wow, Brian, you must have had scrambled kegs for breakfast! I remember laughing uncontrollably at Mrs. Malaprop in high school. Thanks for the laughs!

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you, Cynthia! Actually they were kegs over easy. And I’m delighted this poem made you laugh!

      Reply
  2. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Brian, I love a good malapropism and your delightful poem is littered with these luscious lovelies with a literary bent. I especially like: ‘… get thee to an ornery!’ – this may well have changed the entire outcome of a Shakespearean tragedy had Hamlet said this. Ambitious, hilarious, and wondrous! Your gift for witty poetry is shining brightly. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you so much, Susan! I love your alliterative commentary — “littered with luscious lovelies with a literary bent.” There’s a poem in there I think! As for Hamlet, I think the play probably lends itself to a dozen more malapropisms! Neither a burrower nor a blender be; the lady doth beau geste too much; a hit, a ploppable hit; the contents of the king; Toby or not Toby… Shakespeare is ripe for malaproprial plunder! In fact, this would make a fun contest.
      But seriously, I so appreciate your generous words. Thank you!

      Reply
  3. Julian D. Woodruff

    Wonderbread, Brian. True lizardry! You remind me of a line from an old WB cartoon: If music be the food of love, play on, Macduff, play on!

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Julian, I’m in stitches over your comment. I will long remember the lizardry of my work and the hilarious Twelfth Night/Macbeth mashup! Thank you.

      Reply
  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    Absolutely hysterically funny! And it’s one of those sophisticated comic poems where you really need to read it slowly and carefully to catch every joke.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Joseph, I’m delighted that you liked my poem. I had a great time writing it and trying to cram it full with comedic details. Thank you.

      Reply
  5. Adam Wasem

    Thanks, Brian. This one had me smiling the whole way through. How very appropriate you posted this on the internet, as it turns out it was the internet, with its cacophony of (evidently) illiterate voices yet determined to be heard, that was required to bring out the true wealth of malapropisms lurking in the depths of the popular vernacular, of which the army of editors at traditional print media had heretofore cruelly deprived us. A man named Richard Lederer, if I remember the name correctly, put together a series of little books, titled “Anguished English,” and “More Anguished English” and so on, collecting the funniest malapropisms from his high school English classes. I can only hope he or someone like him is compiling similar gems from the internet. All swell will end swell if that’s the case.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you, Adam. Anguished English sounds like something I’d enjoy and, like you, I do indeed hope that someone will compile some internet gems. Imagine the internet actually making people happy!

      Reply
  6. Jeff Eardley

    A great laugh today Brian and I can say that without fear of contraception. You reminded me of the great English comedienne, Hylda Baker, the mistress of malaprop. On the occasion of her husband’s heart attack, she remarked that he was recovering from a “honorary trombonist.” “The better part of valour is distemper” is pure genius and your Shakespearean groan, “All swell will end swell” reminded me of a local camping outlet having an end of season sale with the strap line, “Now is the Winter of our discounted tents.” They’ll be spanning boonerisms next.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Jeff, I howled reading your comment. No, you will not get any contraception from me. That’s actually such a brilliant malapropism of your own that it deserves its own poem to go with your “spanning boonerisms.” I also howled at the “Winter of our discounted tents.” That’s one clever advertiser! Thank you for this fantastically witty comment.

      Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you, Mike, for your very conical comment. Heaven nose, I endeavor to be conductive! What would life be without conductivity?

      Reply
  7. BenB

    Thank you Brian, excellent work. Malaprops sadly are being replaced by autocomplete in our day. This humor will be lost on the younger generalizations.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you, Ben! To some degree you’re right. But I remember texting someone and although I typed in the word “tavern” my autocorrect inexplicably turned the word into “tapeworm.” So you just never know.

      Reply
  8. Norma Pain

    How wonderfully clever and so very funny. Thanks for this poem Brian. I tried to come up with something similar in this comment, but it is not that easy to do, especially in a poem…. for me that is. Lots of very funny offerings from others though.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, Norma! Your talent for writing humorous poetry is formidable so your comment is very meaningful to me!

      Reply
  9. C.B. Anderson

    Too funny, Brian. I think I was laughing with you as you rote it.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you, C.B.! I’m glad I seceded in respiring a gaggle or two during these trident times.

      Reply
  10. Margaret Coats

    I can’t compute, Brian, either with you or the followers you have gurneyed here.

    Reply
  11. Jack DesBois

    Cleverly done, Brian. Beverage is, indeed, the sole of wit. This reminds me of a genuine malapropism of my own: for many years I was under the impression that among Shakespeare’s Comedies was the rollicking romance “What To Do About Nothing”. I wasn’t entirely sure this was the correct title, so whenever I had to say it, I said it very fast, and nobody ever corrected me.

    Reply
    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you, Jack! That’s a hilarious story! Shakespeare, for some reason, seems to be particularly amenable to malapropisms.

      Reply

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