Saturday, January 11, 2014

REPOST: Mystic Men Who Eat Boiled Owls

(Time to run this one again, given that we're up to our hienies in Ooobleck these days.)

I have just re-read what must be called a most prophetic story about a nation's leader who wanted, well, CHANGE.

It is astonishing how much truth this sixty-one-year-old-plus children's book carries, how much foresight, how much punch.

It starts like this:

"They still talk about it in the Kingdom of Didd as The-Year-The-King-Got-Angry-With-The-Sky. And they still talk about the page boy, Bartholomew Cubbins. If it hadn't been for Bartholomew Cubbins, that King and that Sky would have wrecked that little Kingdom."
I am sure that you must have read it, either as a child yourself or to your children, for Dr. Seuss, one of the great gifts to American culture, often spoke far more truth that he knew in his silly poems and sillier drawings.

The story goes like this:

King Derwin of Didd, a mighty King, begins to growl at the weather. He growls at the sunshine, and at the rain; he growls at the fog, and at the snow. He is bored: it's the same four things every year.

King Derwin wants something NEW!

So he storms back and forth in his bedroom, very angry as Bartholomew Cubbins, his pageboy--the only person in the entire Kingdom of Didd who dares speak the truth to his face--warns him that
"You rule all the land. And you rule all the people. But even kings can't rule the sky."
The King goes into a rage.
"You mark my words, Bartholomew Cubbins, I will have something new come down!"
But how....?

Finally King Derwin decides .... to call the royal magicians!

           "'Oh, no, Your Majesty! Don't call them!'"


But summon them the King does. And one at a time--in one of the most frightening scenes in this former child's memory--they come up from their secret lair beneath the dungeons.
"Shuffle, duffle, muzzle, muff.
Fista, wista, mista-cuff.
We are men of groans and howls,
Mystic men who eat boiled owls.
Tell us what you wish, oh King,
Our magic can do ANYTHING!"
And so the King consults with these wise men, who assure the King that they can do as he wishes--except that they haven't a clue as to the consequences.

For a moment they stood thinking, blinking their creaky eyes. Then they spoke a word ... one word ... "Oobleck.""Won't look
like rain. Won't look like snow.
Won't look like fog. That's all we know.
We just can't tell you any more.
We've never made oobleck
before....

"We go now to our secret cave
On Mystic Mountain
Neeka-Tave.
There, all night long, we'll work for you
And you'll have
oobleck when we're through!
"'They'll do something crazy!' whispered Bartholomew. 'Call them back, Your Majesty! Stop them!'
"'Stop them? Not for a ton of diamonds!' chuckled the King. 'Why, I'll be the mightiest man that ever lived! Just think of it! Tomorrow I'm going to have OOBLECK!'"
And so he did.

But he didn't like it.

I won't tell the rest of the story; not only do you probably know it, but the Widow Seuss is very possessive of her copyright perogatives and she's a leftie to boot. Therefore, and particularly as I have pushed Fair Use here to its uttermost limit, I will not tell of what happens when the Kingdom of Didd encounters a storm of Oobleck.

I promise you, however:

Things do not go well.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep it clean for gene.