Queen of Hearts: Why?


Why are there poodles?
Why are there cats?
Why are there Bellan wrasse?

Cross-breeding of oodles
For eating of rats
To boost ocean biomass

Why are there leatherbacks?
Why is there beer?
Why is there Notre Dame?

We’ve banned aphrodisiacs
To free us from fear
In an effort to sauver nos âmes.

Is there a god who says, “It’s ’cause I say”?
Is it for people who like it that way?
Is it ’cause particles followed some law?
Is it just random events, nothing more?

Why corythosaurus?
Why Holsteiner horse?
Why are there Cooper pairs?

To kill time before us
To show feats of force
They send thirteen thousand amperes

Why are there wood hedgehogs?
Why are there clothes?
Why are there queens of hearts?

For Lumpi to teach French dogs
To hide what God loathes
So the kings can enjoy their parts

Is there a god who says, “It’s ’cause I say”?
Is it for people who like it that way?
Is it ’cause particles followed some law?
Is it just random events, nothing more?

Why Malahide Castle?
Why’s there Lake Sils?
Why are there tundra swans?

To use a land parcel
It rains, the hole fills
Now there’s no room for mastodons

Why are there butterflies?
Why are there birds?
Why did they bridge the Arve?

It’s so we don’t shut our eyes
To free falling turds
For the sake of appearing suave

Is there a god who says, “It’s ’cause I say”?
Is it for people who like it that way?
Is it ’cause particles followed some law?
Is it just random events, nothing more?

Why Maison du Mayet?
Why are there hares?
Why cruise in Georgian Bay?

It’s a raison de payer
For chic furry wares
‘Cause it’s ever so trendy that way

Why the Venice regattas?
Why the Rhine falls?
Why are there crested grebes?

Dear historical matters
For souvenir stalls
To eat the spare dough in Thebes

Yes to the god who says, “it’s ’cause I say!”
Yes for the people who like it that way.
Yes to the particles following laws
Yes to the random, its wonderful flaws.

I had a lot of fun writing this one. I actually wrote it to a tune, which came too easily to be anything original. I think it’s a cross between Que Sera Sera and Rainbow Connection. So some day, perhaps I’ll get my Mac to sing it, and make a Flickr-style video showing the cards at the right times.

In case you’re confused, here’s how it works. I start with a stanza with three ‘Why’ questions, each about one of my queens of hearts, pictured to the right, in the order they appear in the poem. The next stanza answers each of these questions in turn, with each answer rhyming with the question it’s answering. If you read all three answers together, it also forms a mostly unrelated, somewhat amusing, and perhaps even meaningful statement or clause. For example, one of my favourites:

Why are there butterflies? It’s so we don’t shut our eyes.

Why are there birds? To free falling turds.

Why did they bridge the Arve? For the sake of appearing suave.

The answers taken together tell is that ‘it’s so we don’t shut our eyes to free-falling turds for the sake of appearing suave.’

And then there’s a refrain contemplating more general answers to the question ‘Why?’ because this poem is secretly a song.

I think most of the questions and answers don’t need explanation, but there are a few that are not obvious, for example the French ones. Sauver nos âmes means save our souls, and raison de payer is the commercial version of raison d’être, it means, ‘reason to pay’. I couldn’t find much information about the Maison du Mayet, it seems to be just a house where the Mayet de Beauvoir family used to live in the old town of Lyon. As far as I know, you can’t visit it even if you pay, but the fact that it’s mentioned in a deck of souvenir playing cards indicates that it is supposed to attract tourists, and tourist dollars.

This one also probably needs explanation:

Why are there leatherbacks? We’ve banned aphrodisiacs.

One of the threats to leatherback turtles is trade in their eggs, which are believed by some to be aphrodisiacs. While claimed aphrodisiacs as a whole have not been banned, it is illegal to harm or kill leatherback turtles. And this might be why there are still leatherbacks. It’s a little iffy, but it was such a nice rhyme, and I found the idea of banning aphrodisiacs to free us from fears and save our souls amusing.

And then there are grebes and Thebes:

Why are there crested grebes? To eat the spare dough in Thebes.

I checked, and there are great crested grebes in Lake Kerkini in Greece, which is at least in the same country as one of the places named Thebes. I am not sure if they would eat bread thrown by people, but I sure hope so, because I like the double meaning of dough (it’s also tourist money buying expensive historical souvenirs) and there’s not much else that rhymes with grebe.

The most obscure answer is probably this one:

Why are there wood hedgehogs? For Lumpi to teach French dogs.

Wood hedgehog is a name for Hydnum repandum, the kind of mushroom on the queen of hearts for the Pilze deck. Lumpi is a dog featured in the Vorwärtz textbooks which French-speaking Swiss learn German from. I have never seen the actual textbooks, but according to this parody, Lumpi likes eating psychedelic mushrooms in the forest.

You might also think that this one is a bit weird:

Why are there tundra swans? Now there’s no room for mastodons.

Well, it is a bit weird, but I wanted something nice and silly: Well, there aren’t any dinosaurs any more, so there has to be something, right? I considered this more down-to-earth one, which you may substitute if you prefer it:

Why’s there a tundra swan? Every lake must have something on.

The text on the LHC Current Leads card might help you understand the bit about Cooper pairs: High temperature superconducting material is used to transmit 13000 amps to the low temperature superconductor of the LHC dipoles and quadrupoles. These “current leads” are immersed in liquid helium.

And of course, they use these 13000 amps to investigate the fundamental forces, and ‘slow‘ (but not entirely kill) time before our eyes by accelerating particles to near the speed of light. So it fits into the rest of the stanza too.

I only have four queens of hearts that I didn’t use this time, and I think I’m allowed not to use them, because that’s not enough to make it to another refrain, and I don’t have room for them in the photo. The photo’s pretty blurry, and probably doesn’t line up with the text if your font size is bigger than mine. I could solve both these problems by taking many separate photos of three-card blocks and lining them up with the text explicitly, but I have other things to do today.

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  1. #1 by Grace Bridges on October 12, 2008 - 11:14 pm

    yay for Malahide Castle! I lived near there…

    Like

  2. #2 by Angela Brett on October 13, 2008 - 12:30 am

    Wow… do you have a better idea why it’s there? 😉 Perhaps you can make a better version of that stanza.

    Actually, I was thinking this would be a fun game for children to play on long journeys, when they’re bored of playing I Spy or counting power pylons. Think of three random things (maybe things you see en route, if you’re used to I Spy) and come up with three absurd and amusing answers to the ‘why’ question which make an absurd and amusing sentence when taken together.

    Like

  1. Recording: Why? « Creative Output

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