fortunes of war...golden chain

Lynne Murphy m.l.murphy at SUSSEX.AC.UK
Sun Jul 9 10:46:40 UTC 2006

The reason I asked the question was that the "I'll say it plain" seemed to
me to indicate something nasty coming next.  So, while _golden chain_ =
'riches or prizes' seems straight forward, the rest of the poem made me
think that the meaning had to be 'injury or death'.

Doesn't seem to be any evidence for that, though.  One place where you find
the poem on the web is a review of the pub at which I was sitting when this
conversation came up.  Somehow it had a ring of familiarity to it, but
maybe only because I've been to that pub before!

(Unlike Jonathan, I found it on two sites.  The other lists it as a
'Nursery Rhyme', but offers no further explanation.)


--On Saturday, July 8, 2006 12:03 pm -0700 Jonathan Lighter
<wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM> wrote:

> Thanks, chaps. I know it from seeing it in print, but God knows where
> (it's not in the _Oxford Book of War Poetry_, e.g.).  I am familiar with
> Kennedy's anthology, so maybe it was there..
>   Did I mention that the epigram seems to make but a single appearance on
> the Net?   That suggests to me, anyway, that it's very hard to find in
> print.
>   JL
> Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU> wrote:
>   ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> ----------------------- Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: Stephen Goranson
> Subject: Re: fortunes of war...golden chain
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ------
> Quoting Charles Doyle :
> [....]
>> But I DID find it, finally--in an unassuming location. Years (and
>> years) ago, I was teaching a freshman English course, using X. J.
>> Kennedy's anthology Literature: An Introduction, 2d ed. (1979) as the
>> basic textbook; the epigram in question appears on page 504, with the
>> skimpy information "Anonymous (English) . . . (1854-56)." Where
>> Kennedy, a careful scholar (as well as a fine poet himself), got the
>> poem, with such a precise dating, I do not know.
> Perhaps it was dated as written during the Crimean War (1854-6).
> Stephen Goranson
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Dr M Lynne Murphy
Senior Lecturer in Linguistics and English Language
Arts B133
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QN

phone: +44-(0)1273-678844

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