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The Panjandrum and the Apostrophe

Beware the mighty panjandrum,
Who holds his court at Trivandrum!
For one misplaced apostrophe
Would cause a great catastrophe!

Do mind your plural possessive
And about it's be obsessive.
Know where it goes in won't and can't
And when you don't and when you shan't.

About spellings he is not vain,
Bad syntax does not cause him pain,
Semicolons may come to grief
For such matters his time is brief.

But an abused apostrophe
Would break his mighty heart in three;
The panjandrum's benevolence
Doth turn to foul malevolence.

He'll punish you for such vile deeds
By rubbing you with prickly weeds;
You must recite a thousand times
That you will not repeat your crimes.

But once a most uncommon thing
Did cause a lot of worrying.
A grocer did cause much chagrin
And so this ballad doth begin.

This grocer's thick viscosity
Inflicted much atrocity -
What was owned by his potato
Posterity would never know!

His board said ten cents potato's
Was it its head? Were they its toes?
The entire panjandrumate
Was consumed by the big debate.

Some said it was the spud's jewels,
Some memoirs of its travels.
What was it that cost ten whole cents
The tuber's pugree, or its tents?

The matter reached the panjandrum
Upon his seat at Trivandrum.
Thus the errant apostrophe
Was poised to cause catastrophe.

His face went purple, and then red.
He got up from his velvet bed -
To make the sinning grocer bleed,
And so punish his evil deed.

He summoned his light cavalry
To end this grievous devilry
He marched with all his infantry
Right upto the grocer's right knee!

They seized the grocer and his wares,
His goods, his books and all his chairs.
"See what happens in Trivandrum
To those Who dare the panjandrum!

"Puree all of his tomatoes
And boil all his potatoes.
Cause him terrible damages -
By shredding all his cabbages!

Men! Throw him into dungeon one,
Along with my favourite son
Who abused an apostrophe,
And landed in catastrophe!

Tomorrow we'll hold a trial
Of those who live in denial
Of the magnitude of such crimes
Truly we live in testing times!"

The morning came, the court was full
The trial was such a great pull
They had lined up in all the lanes
Where the captive was dragged in chains

The panjandrum then took his seat
And all was quiet, all was neat.
The prosecution read its charge,
"The sin is very very large!

"He sold tubers in multitude,
But to good grammar he was rude
Where he should have inserted e
He placed a wee apostrophe!

"The people of this noble state
Our glorious panjandrumate,
Were confused, upset, perplexed, dazed
But this offender stood unfazed!"

"The justice of our panjandrum,
who holds his court at Trivandrum
is impartial, unbiased, fair!
Let him his opinion declare!"

But the counsel for the defence,
Who was engaged at great expense,
Rose to say, "My client's offence,
Must be proven in every sense."

"I claim that ten cents potato's
Followed by twelve cents tomato's
Doth rhyme and make good poetry,
So escapes grammar's corsetry.

"Such use of the apostrophe,
Surely is no catastrophe -
For is it not good commonsense,
That it is poetic license?"

The audience rose up in might
And declared, "The defence was right!
Set him free, restore his estate,
And make him poet laureate!"

The case collapsed, this ballad ends
But wait for another tale, friends,
About the mighty panjandrum,
Who holds his court at Trivandrum!


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Published in Amaravati Poetic Prism 2016
ed. Padmaja Iyengar,
Cultural Centre of Vijayawada & Amaravati

बिन बहर के ग़ज़ल

बिन जुनून के चाहत ऐसी, बिन बहर के ग़ज़ल जैसी,
बिन इज़्तिराब के 'श्क़ ऐसी, बिन बहर के ग़ज़ल जैसे |

हर लफ़्ज़ हर याद में ढूँढता हूँ, तुम्हारी आवाज़ की सरगम,
हर बात बेमतलब लगती है, बिन बहर के ग़ज़ल जैसे |

वक़्त के भुलाए ख़्वाब जैसे, बिन महक के फूलों जैसे,
ज़िन्दगी बेजान लगती है, बिन बहर के ग़ज़ल जैसे |

ख़ामोशी के आसमाँ से आँसुओं की बारिश गिरा दे
बिन बादल के फ़लक ऐसे, बिन बहर के ग़ज़ल जैसे |

इन सुनसान दीवारों पर अपनी हंसी के रंग चढा दे,
बिन पनाह के मकान ऐसे, बिन बहर के ग़ज़ल जैसे |

लडखडाओ, डगमगाओ, झलक दो के तुम इन्सान हो
बिन जज़्बे के आँखें ऐसे, बिन बहर के ग़ज़ल जैसे |

यह कृति उमर बहुभाषीय रूपांन्तरक की मदद से देवनागरी में टाइप की गई है|