Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Naughty Mr Engelmann

Engelmann's Ivy



Who was Mr Engelmann
And why do I enquire ?
And why the picture of a vine
Seemingly set on fire?
I call it Virginia Creeper
A really lovely name,
So why do the folk in Canada
Not call it the same?
Here in Australia it glows
On many a garden wall,
And it's called Virginia Creeper,
Not 'Engelmann' at all!
I have my suspicions
About Mr Engelmann,
I think he was a gardener
With a really crafty plan.
I think he went to Mexico
And saw this lovely plant
And uttered  his own equivalent*
Of  'Well, my sainted aunt!
I'll take this back to Canada
And sell it as something new.
Then people will flock to my nursery!
Yes! That's what I'll do!'
So that craft Mr Engelmann
Announced his novelty
And the people of Saskatchewan
Said 'Wow! That is for me!
You're so clever, Mr Engelmann,
That we'll give the plant your name
For if that were forgotten
It would really be a shame!'
Now his name's on each Canadian tongue;
He's lauded far and wide.
(I'm not much good at History,
But at least I really tried!)

* In French.



Let's set-aside his later years, his corpulence and wives.
Let's draw a curtain over ways he ruined other's lives.
Let's turn a blind-eye to his health in his declining years.
In fact, let's try ignoring how he usually appears......
Henry the Eighth, a travesty of any normal man,
Was something very different at the time his reign began.
For one thing he was robust, and unusually strong;
His ability at sports delighted the adoring throng.
For another he had charm, as everybody, then, agreed,
And he was also clever, reading all that he could read.
At a feast he was great company, a teller of tall tales,
With a sharp eye for the ladies, like so many Alpha males.
He was, also, a musician, composing melodies,
The ever-popular 'Greensleeves' was said to be one of these.
He was a politician of astuteness and renown,
Not just because he had the power and wore a nation's crown.
In fact, he was remarkable, and not a cause for laughter;
We shouldn't be too influenced by all that followed after.
Read of his various illnesses, then you will realise
He was something more than a lecher who grew to a monstrous size.
We should judge him by his era, his position and his health,
And the way that he was moulded by politics and wealth.
Were he living nowadays I think that we would see
More than the bloated womaniser known to history.

From the Venetian diplomat Pasqualigo in a dispatch, 1515 

"His Majesty is the handsomest potentate I ever set eyes on; above the usual height, with an extremely fine calf to his leg, his complexion very fair and bright, auburn hair combed straight and short, in the French fashion, and a round face so very beautiful that it would become a pretty woman, his throat being rather long and thick.... He will enter his twenty-fifth year the month after next. He speaks French, English and Latin, and a little Italian, plays well on the lute and harpsichord, sings from book at sight, draws the bow with greater strength than any man in England and jousts marvelously.... a most accomplished Prince."

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