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General Discussions Topics >> The Books & Stories >> poem identification
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Message started by Captain Rackham on 11. Feb 2006 at 02:13

Title: poem identification
Post by Captain Rackham on 11. Feb 2006 at 02:13

In Tim Power's book the Anubis Gates, one of the chapters' intro quotes goes something like this:
"The other night upon the stair, I met a man who wasn't there..." - Old Rhyme.
Anyone know who wrote it, or what it is called?

Title: Re: poem identification
Post by Silver on 11. Feb 2006 at 06:50

I guess it won't surprise anyone here if I be the pedantic person and answer this bit of trivia!

The poem was apparently written by Hughes Mearns:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hughes_Mearns


I first ran across it in a brilliant mystery novel written by Fredric Brown in 1950, "Night of the Jabberwock". In it, the main character refers to that poem a number of times, and relates it to a sort of archetypal name, "Yehudi" or "Yehudi Smith". "Yehudi" is apparently a name used to represent an anonymous anyman - someone that no one knows, and no one remembers.

I ran across this site which poses a believable history for a once-common phrase, "Yehudi did it", which also mentions the relation to the "man who wasn't there" poem:

http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-yeh1.htm

Anyways, if anyone reading this is thread is interested in reading a really entertaining murder mystery by a writer who influenced a lot of sci-fi writers in the past, you couldn't do better than to read "Night of the Jabberwock". It's brilliant and bizarre - a murder mystery all set around Lewis Carroll's famous poem, Jabberwocky.

Title: Re: poem identification
Post by Captain Rackham on 30. Mar 2006 at 03:46

Thank you! As soon as my friend asked about it, I said "I'll ask the Blaylock people. They'll know."
And voila, you do. :)

Title: Re: poem identification
Post by Mike on 10. Jul 2008 at 18:32

Yehudi in the Semetic languages refers to the Jews.

Perhaps a reference to the Wandering Jew...

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