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Mearnes

October 9, 2006

I realised that in the last post, I dropped an fun lil’ phrase, and just kinda expected you to know what it was. That phrase is “mearn”. Mearns are cool things. They’re like limmericks, but not vulgar, really.

The name, which seems to have faded from even baseline conventional use, is based on the writer of what may be the original, and if not – one of the most memorable. Mr. William Huges Mearns is cedited with being the first ever creative writing teacher, and has held numerous highly esteemed positions, including being the head of the Collumbia U. Teacher’s College (Also known as Lincoln School). The author of two highly influential books, Creative Youth (1925) and Creative Power (1929), Mearns formed the opinion and style of generations of teachers.

However, that’s not why we should all know him. There is one simple, short reason. In fact, it’s only four lines long. It’s a little poem (mearn) called Antigonish. It goes like this:

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away!

See? If you didn’t recognise that by the second line, you obviously have been living under a rock somewhere. With your fingers in your ears.

Ok, fine, you may just not have been keeping abrest of the world sufficiently. See, until 1939, it was an anonymous poem believed to be in the public domain. It wasn’t until it was used in a play/musical called “The Psycho-Ed” that the true ownership of the nonexistant man came to light. The poem had originally been written in 1910, and the writers of the performance took the verse for the chorus of one of the songs featured in the performance.

He has a second little verse that’s far less famous, but equally cool.

As I was sitting in my chair,
I knew the bottom wasn’t there,
Nor legs nor back, but I just sat,
Ignoring little things like that.

See? What a dude, eh? I wish I was as cool as he was. And as creative. He can do with words what I wish I could do with a pencil. Antigonish manages to raise the hairs on my neck every time I read it. If I could do that with art… Wow.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tara permalink
    October 18, 2006 12:48 pm

    so I was trying to figure out where I knew the first one from – it’s Velvet Goldmine.

  2. October 18, 2006 2:53 pm

    That’s the one that you keep telling me that I really must be seeing… When I next see you, I suppose.

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