April 07, 2005

Vatican commentary by limerick

Today I read Mark's post about press speculation on the short and portly Cardinal Tettamanzi's strong support from Italian cardinals as a candidate to restore Italy's leadership of the Vatican in the upcoming papal conclave; and I heard from Sylvia Poggioli on NPR this morning that certain statues in Rome have traditionally been used to get around church censorship by acting as display sites for subversive limericks about pontifical authority (do they really write limericks in Italian?). Naturally, the two topics fell together in my mind immediately, in limerick form, as you might expect:

According to some in the Vatican,
Tettamanzi is confident that he can
Get the Roman coalition
Behind his ambition —
At least, if he isn't too fat he can.

All right, yes, it's rubbish, I grant you that; but better than what my mortgage company has sent me unbidden in the mail, for heaven's sake. The rhyme was the tricky bit. It's perfectly clean. I think it should count as legitimate comment on a topic of public concern. I am not free to get to Rome for tomorrow's funeral, as my class meets on Fridays, but if some Language Log reader in the city could kindly attach my poem to a suitable statue over the weekend, I would be most grateful.

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at April 7, 2005 02:24 PM