Palindromic Sonnet No. I

April 24, 2013

A palindromic sonnet from 2112 AD, in which the poet, recalling a lost, golden age of food production, attempts to cultivate a burger.

Set a note– Don’t salt a burger up.

Set a pupa in a manic ass.

Mare slups a pupa pure, wets a pup,

Deific, lactates in alpine moss.

Upon a time, we fed on Agnus Dei;

Fed nude – garnets, aortae – mad-eyed.

Ah, burger – art, sacred lore – hops astray.

Art’s asp? Oh, ‘er older-cast, rare grub had

Eyed a meat-roast enraged; undefied,

Sung an ode few emit: an o-pus.

So men, I plan, I set at calcified

Pupa stewer, up a pupa’s pulse.

Ram’s sac in a mania pupates…

Pure grub at last – No! – detonates.

***

Historical background

This sonnet was written in 2112 AD, and reveals much about the culinary knowledge of the time. Following decades of environmental catastrophe, crop failures, mass starvation and the collapse of western civilisation, people resorted to eating grubs, insects and parasites. The poet clearly laments the loss of the golden age of food, when people dined on such delights as lamb and burgers, and in this sonnet he presents us with his description of an attempt to produce the mythical ‘burger’ by implanting pupae into larger beasts and harvesting what he hopes will be mature burgers – the ‘pure grub’ of the past.

The first stanza sets out the poet’s understanding of the process. Stanza two recalls the golden age, laments the loss of culinary knowledge, and recalls the legendary (older-cast, rare) grub who turned people away from carnivory by exuding a prized pus. In the third stanza the poet reaffirms his objective, and in the final couplet we learn whether he has succeeded or failed.

It is thought that the poet’s use of the palindromic form (if intentional) reflects the strength of his yearning to return to the past.

Notes:

1. Agnus Dei – This means ‘Lamb of God’ and appears to be a reference to a popular pre-collapse religion in which worshippers sacrificed their finest-fed lambs to placate a fussy god. As such, it can be understood to mean ‘food of the gods’.

2. O-pus – A pus which is music to the taste buds. Some scholars think this is a reference to honey: as meat became scarcer many people turned to beekeeping, although honey-production skills were gradually lost and the bee larvae themselves became a staple food. Other scholars claim that the legend was a conflation of the honey bee and the popular pre-collapse singer Maurice Ee, whose hit album Red Rump? Murder! popularized vegetarianism.

***

Alternative ending/beginning, with L3-L12 variation

Set, as a recipe, fossil byre grub:

Set a pupa in a manic ass.

Mare slups a pupa, tops reviled mare cup;

Deific, lactates in alpine moss.

Upon a time, we fed on Agnus Dei

Fed nude garnets, aortae, mad-eyed.

Ah, burger – art, sacred lore – hops astray.

Art’s asp? Oh, ‘er older-cast, rare grub had

Eyed a meat-roast enraged; undefied,

Sung an ode few emit: an o-pus.

So men, I plan, I set at calcified

Puce ram, de-liver, spot a pupa’s pulse.

Ram’s sac in a mania pupates…

Burgery bliss of epic era sates.

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