The Czar enjoys receiving messages from Mark Spahn, of West Seneca, New York, because they invariably start in medias res.
|Ponder the meter of the lyrics of these two songs:
(Note: before the Mataho Fire Gate; and at 3:46, the book-seller(?) Nakamoto has his shop sign upside-down.)
The melodies are nearly identical too. (Has anyone ever noticed this similarity before? A search on “hippopotamus mikado” produced nothing about the connection, but it did find this link, which has “666 housing units”; are those kind of like Section 8 housing units?)
Meanwhile, some songs that are played around Christmastime have nothing to do with Christmas. Examples: “Jingle Bells”, which a winter song about a sleigh ride. “Frosty the Snowman”, another winter song. Are there any more such non-Christmas Christmas songs?
Winter lasts from about December 20 to about March 20, which puts Christmas in the very beginning of winter. So winter songs like “Jingle Bells” and “Frosty the Snowman” should not disappear from the radio on December 26; they should be just beginning their season.
Even odder is “In the Bleak Midwinter“, which is taken to be a Christmas song:
But — if I calculated right — midwinter is about February 5. So the season for this particular song begins long after Christmas — and even Kwanzaa — has ended.
It’s a Black History Month song.
And yet we hear it only before December 25.
The Czar is of course much relieved that Mark Spahn, of West Seneca, New York, wrote him about this, rather than GorT. When one speaks to GorT of scanning meters, one usually receives precise laser measurements to a variety of distant objects. The Czar of course understands what Mr. Spahn’s concerns are in real time, given the Czar’s deep knowledge of literature and music.
Of course, when analyzing the meter of songs, one should be looking more toward the beat. Describing the prosody of “I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas” is forced and complicated: a repeating iamb trochee pentameter combination ending in a bacchius. However, there are so many variations from verse to verse that you hurt yourself trying.
Easier to describe it in musical beat terms, though, and you have one of the basic reggae rockers beats, even though these tunes were set down well before Burning Spear was around. ♩.♪♩.♪♩.♪♩.♪, and so on, with emphasis on the first two notes of the measure, and eighth notes on the even counts. You hear pieces of it in songs ranging from the “Don’t Get Me Wrong” to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to the Doctor Who theme, as it’s a simple syncopated beat. Add a polka beat to it, and you have everything you need for an entire Lawrence Welk special (“A-one and a-two and a-three and a-four!”).
As for the timeliness of songs, well, that’s commercialism for you. But when the Czar says commercialism, he means it: the song’s lyrics were penned for cash by one of the Czar’s favorite poets, Christina Rossetti—who was far more the party animal than is generally portrayed. She wrote it for Christmas, and when turned into a song by no less than Gustav Holst (who also used a variation of the syncopated beat described above in 5/4 time for his classic “Mars, the Bringer of War”) the piece was assumed to be a Christmas tune and nothing more. She was well past the Czar when she wrote that in 1872, of course, and perhaps that’s why she was so bleak about the holidays.
By the way, Rossetti was not the only poet the Czar has known in his many years, by the way. In a stranger phase years later, the Czar used to, shall we say, hang around with Emily Dickinson. She was quite the frisky one and had a crazed fascination for the song “Yellow Rose of Texas,” which she sang to us constantly, and why every single one of her poems can be sung to its tune. She made no secret of this, as you will see by idle Googling, but the odds are good most readers heard this from the Czar, first.
That you can sing it to other tune is a shocking coincidence to be sure. She watched very little television in the morning, if you get our meaning.