Process Notes for the Development of The Chapel Street Bike Makes a Scene

Epode XII: The Chapel Street Bike Makes a Scene
(Quid tibi vis?)
[What are you After?]


‘The format of Epode XII, a conversation between man and woman in a sexual context, mentioning another woman as a candidate for the man’s favours recalls the Cologne Epode of Archilochus, where the male speaker rejects the female speaker’s suggestion of Neobule as an alternative sexual partner; in Horace this scenario is modified, since the alternative sexual partner is not suggested but rather attacked by the female speaker. ‘…the fundamental problem is the poet’s sexual impotence, a physical manifestation of the general impotence and lack of power which [we have seen] as typical of the collection.’ (1)

In the original there is much emphasis on how disgusting the speaker finds the woman’s appearance;

‘The sweat and nasty smell get worse all over her wrinkled body, as my penis droops
and raging passion cools and all the while the powdered chalk
and crocodile-shit dye run on her face as she ruts away..’ (2)

‘Crocodile: according to Pliny’s Natural History xxviii. 108, the land crocodile likes to eat sweet-smelling flowers, and its intestines, being full of a fragrant juice called crocodilea, are much in demand, inter alia for clearing the complexion of blotches, freckles, pimples and spots.’
Lesbia: readers of Catullus would know that a Lesbia is a promiscuous woman. If she were still alive in 30 BC she would be in her mid-fifties.’ (3)

Almond Version

So too in my version there is much emphasis on impotence, and deriding remarks directed towards Billy’s one-time ‘bit-on-the-side.

The original has an allusion to bestiality (elephant-shagging) (4) whereas the Almond version refers to ‘Rockaby Donkeys’, the Rockaby being a public house in the area.
This bit-on-the-side is a well-ridden bike suitable only for large-size action.

In the original the speaker and the man were introduced by a madam (Lesbia) –
so in my version the bit-on-the-side puts a curse on the old bag who introduced them.

I give emphasis to impotence in my poem by the bit-on-the-side comparing Billy’s penis size with that of another man, Harry Chambers.

(1) Harrison, S.J. Some Generic Problems in Horace’s Epodes: or, On (Not) Being Archilochus. (downloaded July, 2003)
(2) Horace: The Complete Odes and Epodes (D. West Tr.) (1997) Oxford University Press: Oxford. {p.15)
(3) West, D. Horace: The Complete Odes and Epodes (1997) Oxford University Press: Oxford. (p.137)
(4) Harrison, S.J. in personal correspondence.

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