Friday, 5 June 2020

SINGABLE SATIRE: "THE SEER of BYZANTION" (Istanbul/Constantinople)


ORIGINAL SONG: "Moscow Nights"(Подмосковные вечера Podmoskovnie vechera), Chad Mitchell Trio, 1963. You can listen to the well-known Trio's version on YouTube here, or a version with English translation here.
The original was created as "Leningrad Nights" by composer Solovyov-Sedoi and poet Matusovsky in 1955, but changed at the request of the Ministry of Culture for use in a documentary about a national athletic competition. The tune was subsequently popularized in the West, in the middle of the Cold War era, by Van Cliburn in 1958, and recorded with commercial success by Kenny Ball and the Jazzmen, and the Chad Mitchell Trio in the early 60s. 
PARODY COMPOSED: Giorgio Coniglio (registered pseudonym) and Dr. GH, August 2018. 

SONGLINKS: The parody-lyrics with accompanying chords for guitar or ukulele players are found on our lyrics blog "SILLY SONGS and SATIREhere 
This post deals with Graeco-Roman history during the Byzantine period. Another song dealing with Greek history, culture and travels is found in an earlier blogpost as  "Singable Limerick Medley #15: Travels in Greece".
This entire effort was inspired by "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)", a swing-era hit with a very catchy tune whose lyrics are a bit truncated re history.


(to the tune of "Moscow Nights")

Said Byzántion’s seer,* “Constantine will found,
Nova Roma, his new cosmopolis.
They’ll construct right here;  
Then we Greeks will cheer
Rome’s second home: Constanti-no-po-lis.” 

“In Rome’s legions march with a martial sound,
They’ll build Fourth Century’s eastern cosmopolis --
Grand Sophia’s dome,
And a huge Hippodrome
Rome’s second home: Constanti-no-po-lis.”

“Who’ll unite this Empire too vast to rule?
Few the Caesars who exert such might.
Year Three-Ninety-Five (395 A.D.),
Things take a permanent dive --
East/West will split; West drops out of sight.

“In clean-shaven West, ‘barbarians’ storm the gates,
Middle Ages will settle there to stay.
Vandals, Lombards, Goths –
Old stomping grounds get lost,
Down East here, ‘Roman’ power’ll hold sway.”

“Who will dogma craft for new Christian creed?
Peter’s primacy;  Roman popes’ll.
We’ll counter Holy See
With Eastern Orthodoxy,
Here in Byzantine Constan-ti-nople.”

“Vicious wars with neighbours” quoth our sooth-saying seer,
Peering in his Prophet-Kit prism,   
“Charlemagne and Popes
Will undermine our hopes,
And result in an East-West Schism.”

“Things take a bad turn with the Fourth Crusade,
Frankish knights, their mission quite hopeless --   
Retake Holy Lands?
But no! They’ll change their plans,
Seize and ‘Latinize’ Constantinopolis.”

 “Fifty years to rid the place of Latin louts
Then two centuries, invasions we’ll stop. All this
Has an end, it’s clear.”
States our seer, with tear,
"When Turks topple Constantinopolis.”

Then we took our seer out for lunch that day
To a small café by the Bosporus.
Name of the café
Where we ate that day,
Was ‘Istanbul (Not Constantinopolis)’.

*  the prediction was made by the Seer early in the fourth century A.D.
Byzántion (Greek), later known as Byzantium (Latin) was at that time a moderate-sized Greek colony-city on the Bosporus. It was chosen by the Roman Emperor Constantine to become the eastern capital of his empire.
As capital of the Roman Empire (also called Romania), the grand city was known as Constantinopolis, or Konstantinoupolis, for most of its history, i.e. until 1453 A.D. (later as Istanbul by the Turks). The term 'Byzantine Empire' has only been in use by Western historians since that time

Wednesday, 20 May 2020



ORIGINAL SONG: The melody for the spiritual ballad "Summertime" from the George Gershwin opera "Porgy and Bess".

PARODY COMPOSED: Giorgio Coniglio (registered pseudonym) and Dr. GH, August 2018. 

EVOLUTION of the LYRICS: The song-lyrics originated as limerick verses composed by Giorgio Coniglio 2017, and compiled in January 2018. The details of the lyrics were based on GC's family trip to Iceland in June 2015. Most of the verses also appear, mildly modified, in the online limerick dictionary They were subsequently adopted as a parody-song collage, and posted on GC's blog, at that time known as 'Ukable Parodies'. 

SONGLINK: A calypso-style song derived from the same visit to Iceland in June 2015 can be found on the current lyrics blogsite 'SILLY SONGS and SATIRE' under the title "Nordic Journal: Island in the Sun".                                  

CONTENTS: titles (OEDILF listing)

1. Iceland / Ísland  (#T461286 - 'dry land')
2. Geysir: OEDILF (#95658)
3. Eyjafjallajökull / E15 (#101241)
4. Second-Hand Geyser (#102300 - 'displease')
5. Stopover in Reykjavik 


(to the tune of "Summertime") 

1. In the far North Atlantic there’s dry land:
Friendly Iceland – it’s my kind of island.
You’ll be welcomed in Ísland *; cool and damp but at-peace land
Summer-sun-all-day-but-you-won’t-fry land.

2. Tourists learn the Norse thermal god plays here;
The Icelandic locale known as ‘Geysir’.
From hot pools steam erupts - belching after he sups.
Then they head for the sign (that says),“Tour Bus Stays Here.”

3. E15, Iceland stratovolcano,
Spews out fog that can clog up your plane, Oh
If explain it I must - it’s just ashes and dust;  
Can’t they flush it away with some Drano?

4. A cheap gift: though Björn thought he’d surprise her,
Björg rejected his second-hand geyser,                                              
“What I’d prize is a freezer. Your poor wife, why displease her?
It just proves you’re a nasty old miser.”

5. If you’re planning an Iceland stopover:
Avoid months with an 'R', like October;  
And a Reykjavik warning! Bars open til morning  
With patrons not prone to stay sober.

* pronounced as EES-lahndt.

Friday, 15 May 2020


WORDPLAY post #218, a continuation of post #170    

 Readers who enjoy poetry describing the natural world around them with illustrative images and informative text, might also enjoy these blog-offerings, each a collage of verses on a wider topic...

Verses about Geysers, Sep '18
Verses about Frogs, Jan '19
Verses about Trees, Apr '19
Verses about Reptiles, Jun '19
Verses about Waterfowl, June '19
Verses about Waterfowl (part #2), July '19
Verses about Waterfowl (part #3), July '19
Verses about Trees (part #2), Aug '19

The earlier post about reptiles in June 2019 included the following illustrated verses:
Carolina anoles
American alligators
Brown anoles
Painted turtles
Snakes of South Carolina
6 links to limericks by other OEDILF writers

PARODY COMPOSED: Giorgio Coniglio (registered pseudonym) and Dr. GH, April 2019. Today's verses are under review, or have have been finally accepted for web-publication at, an online humour dictionary that has accumulated over 105,000 carefully edited poems. 

PHOTOS: Unless otherwise noted, embedded photographs were taken with and transferred from Giorgio's cellphone, then formatted using  Powerpoint software. No photographic subjects were reimbursed for participating in this undertaking. 

BACKGROUND:  "herpetology" - the branch of zoology dealing with reptiles and amphibians. Readers should note that snakes have intentionally been given short shrift in this poetic idyll owing to the marked aversion by the editor's life-partner. 

See this earlier post for Giorgio's rehash of Ogden Nash's verse (The Purist) about the important differences between crocodiles and alligators.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

VIRAL VERSE: Limericks about the PANDEMIC

WORDPLAY post #217

SATIRE COMPOSED: Giorgio Coniglio and Dr. GH, March and April, 2020. Many of this group of terse verses has also been posted on Twitter, and most have also appeared individually as entries on our blog 'Daily Illustrated Nonsense' during the interval of March and April 2020.

Hello! I'm your social 
distancing trainer!

SOCIAL MEDIA: Giorgio has responded to the current crisis by sticking his toe in social media, and if you look hard you may be able to find him intermittently on Facebook and Twitter (#ScHurwitz - 16 'tweets' so far).  


For physicians who follow this blog as part of their ongoing educational activities, please check out the Lancet article on the use of anti-malarials to treat severe respiratory manifestations of COVID-19 at...