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This report is taken from PN Review 35, Volume 10 Number 3, January - February 1984.

Japan 1961, wit apologies to Auden Dennis Keene

In looking through an old file, I rediscovered this parody by Dennis Keene. Written shortly after he went to teach in Japan, and subtitled 'The Problems of English Teaching, with apologies to Mr Auden', it did not seem to me to have dated very badly, and in some respects it was prophetic. M.S.


Yesterday the Past. The smooth-toned language of culture
Spreading to Japan through the visiting poets. The diffusion
     Of the mot juste and the literary anecdote.
Yesterday the assessment of slang in Victorian England.

Yesterday the misapprehension of the mesomorph, the stolid
Ignorance of Linguistics: yesterday the exposition
     Of the adjectival clause and the pronoun, the emphasis
On adverbs: yesterday the busy world of the grammarian.

Yesterday the two escaped birds beating about the bush:
The frigidity of the cucumber and the cautious leap
     When a stitch in time saved nine.
Yesterday the handbook of idioms: but today the struggle.

Yesterday the thesis on Shenstone's laundry bills, the analysis
Of the interminable occurrences of 'and' in Shakespeare.
     Yesterday the classic lecture
Lasting for nine years. But today the struggle.

Yesterday the conversation class, the well-intentioned
Mystifying explication of the subjunctive, the turgid
     Re-iteration of the absent vocative.
Yesterday the conjugation of love. But today the struggle.

Yesterday the lecture on Lydgate, the appalling
Remarks on Nature in ...


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