â€˜Lays of Contemporary Chivalryâ€™
chivalry, doggerel, knight, knighthood, lampoon, satire, peerage, popular anti-medievalism, social pretention
These light-hearted verses describe the endeavours of a motley band of â€˜gallantsâ€™ with dubious social origins, who jostle and vie for the hand of Lady Podophylline Musa Miggs, daughter of the Baron of Potts Point, in Sydney. These are but two of the made-up names of the various â€˜aristocraticâ€™ protagonists and suitors. Others are: Lord Golfo McGuff, Sir Perryman Pym, and the Marquis of Manganese. Add to these the two front-runners, Sir Peblar de Bart, and Sir Jago Phipp, and the tale gets underway with a smirk. It is clear from the outset that, â€œIt is difficult to grasp the point of the [...] rather silly narrativeâ€ (Louise D'Arcens, Old Songs in the Timeless Land: Medievalism in Australian Literature 1840-1910, Turnhout: Brepols, 2011, p.145). Indeed, there is little more than lunacy (or moon sickness) contained within the poemâ€™s doggerel verses. Even keeping track of the events leading to the outcome requires perspicacity. This is popular medievalism run amok in the Antipodes: a satirical commentary on these not so â€˜gentle-bornâ€™ knights, a fair maiden, and her father â€˜the baron,â€™ along with a veritable fortune or dowry comprised almost entirely of chickens and pigs! The maiden finally succumbs to the blandishments of a coachman, while the others jettison their chances through various foolhardy intrigues and disappear to places obscure.
16 May 1885 (p. 22).
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