Doggerel Abbey, a poem


As explained below, William Phillips of Chicago, who was part of the Sunday brunch panel, shared a poem he had written summarizing Northanger Abbey. Mr. Phillips said in an e-mail, “In this incarnation, it is dedicated to Team Tilney, Team Catherine, and all lovers of Austen in general and Northanger Abbey in particular.” We begged him to let us reproduce it on the blog, and he graciously agreed.

Doggerel Abbey, by William Phillips

Posthumously published—though the first written.
By this clever spoof, we’re bound to be smitten.
In early 20s, Jane started this journey—
Hell of a tribute to Radcliffe and Burney.

* * *
No heiress, no beauty, no genius, please meet
Catherine Morland, who at first, seems just – sweet!
Her mind might seem blank except for a head full
Of Gothic romance, which verges on dreadful.

As comp’ny to Bath by the Allens she’s sought,
And there in the web of the Thorpes is she caught.
Cath’s brother’s the goal of sly Isabella.
Miss M’s chased by John, a right unctuous fella.

She meets Henry Tilney – falls head over heels.
His father thinks Cathy is money on wheels.
Though unknown to Henry, her fortune’s no size.
Her letch for him simply puts stars in his eyes.

He’s smart and ‘in charge’, and though never grovels,
Shows sensitive side—knows muslin—reads novels.
Sis’ Eleanor—classiest gal in the book
Builds friendship with Cath’rine that really does cook.

Henry’s pizzazz makes John Thorpe just look shabby,
So C. splits and visits Northanger Abbey.
It’s all misadventure – strange chest and locked room.
C. thinks the Gen’ral’s a purveyor of doom!

Thorpe tells the Gen’ral, C’s fortune is lacking,
So in a great snit, he sends Cathy packing.
Henry learns of this, most vexed, does not tarry,
Follows to Wiltshire and asks her to marry.

Cath’rine’s parents say, “Wait! Permission’s a must!”
It looks like their hopes may be dashed in the dust.
Then E. marries Viscount—pleased Gen’ral lets go.
The kids live quite well on the dead mother’s dough.

* * *
The jury’s been mixed—some onions—some roses.
Quite a few critics have turned up their noses.
“Rather confused,” say some lit’rary sages,
But Cath’rine and we—learn lots in these pages!

© 2010 by William Phillips

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