One of the great literary events ever was the Ern Mally Hoax. Two bored poets created him during their world War II national service, in Australia, as a protest against modern poetry. They wrote to the poetry magazine ‘Angry Penguins’ pretending to be the sister of rrecently deceased Ern, offering some poems she had found by him. They became a publishing sensation until it was revealed that the poems were pieced togehter from various pieces of poetry, descriptions of the paintings of Durer and the army mosquito control manual. So well done were they that the American poet Robert Frost offered his students a poem by Ern and one by Shakespeare. They often believed the former was by the great master. Or maybe that says something about the teaching of English in America.
The hoax was eventually exposed, but now passed into legend. There is an annual Ern Malley festival, for the most famous poet that never lived; it includes an Ern look alike competition. Of course it does.
I mention all this here as one of his poems was banned in South Australia. Not because of what it said, but because the people in charge knew that there was only one reason to enter a park at night.
So try not to be corrupted by Ern’s ‘Night Piece Alternative Version’
|The intemperate torch grazed
With fire the umbel of the dark.
The pond-lilies could not stifle
The green descant of frogs.
We had not heeded the warning
A splash — the silver nymph
The other misunderstanding I would offer is one of the most hilarious pieces of tv history. It is The Legendary Stardust Cowboy on Laugh In, performing ‘Paralysed’.
This is a double misunderstanding, as I believe it was banned in parts of the United states because nobody could understand the lyrics, hence they must be obscene. The other misunderstading is by the Ledge himself who seems totally bemused by the members of the Laugh In crew to his performance. I cannot call it music, as I’m really not sure what that is, so there’s another misunderstanding.
the LSC also had a role in music history – he was on the same label as the young David Bowie, who borrowed his name for Ziggy Stardust, as he explains here and sings part of it: