Mr Punch and the Hangman: a quadrille poem

Punch and the Hangman | Inked copy from an old engraving: Lesley Scoble

Mr Punch and the Hangman

The hangman says to Punch,
‘Put your head in the noose’

‘How?‘								

‘I’ll show you,’ says the hangman.
Through the noose he put his head
‘The rope’s not right. It’s loose,’ he said	
			
‘I’ll pull it tight,’ says Punch,
and hangs the hangman 
dead.


Lesley Scoble.   September 2022

Quadrille Poetry

Mr Punch and the Hangman is written as a quadrille. A quadrille is a poem of only 44 words (not including the title). This week’s Dverse Pub prompt was to write a quadrille using the word ‘punch’.

In the wise words of the old puppet (in a high squeaky voice, of course),

“That’s the way to do it!”

Mr Punch

My thanks to the host Whimsygizmo for without whom and the punch prompt, this poem may not have seen the light of day. Therefore, if you don’t like the poem, perhaps the host is to blame? 😁
The historic Punch and Judy were my first choice of subject (although the delicious punch drink was also a contender). However, Mr Punch won the toss. He is from my happy childhood days on the beach at the seaside watching Mr Punch hitting Judy over the head with a stick and the Crocodile eating Baby (and they talk about too much violence on TV today!).
Now, where did I put that glass of punch?

A little bit of history

Under Oliver Cromwell’s Protectorate (1653-1659) all theatres were closed. After Cromwell died and with the monarchy restored, theatres reopened. A travelling puppet theatre from Italy introduced Punch to an entertainment starved nation recovering from the English Civil War (1642-1651).
Among a large cast of other characters, such as Judy, the Baby, the Constable, the Crocodile, Ghost, Toby the Dog and more, there was the infamous hangman Jack Ketch. 

Samuel Pepys the Diarist may have seen one of the first Punch and Judy Puppet Shows performed at Covent Garden in 1662. A small brass plaque is placed at Covent Garden commemorating this moment in history.

“…my wife and I to the puppet play in Covent Garden, which I saw the other day, and indeed it is very pleasant. Here among the fiddlers I first saw a dulcimer played on with sticks knocking of the strings, and is very pretty. So by water home, and supped with Sir William Penn very merry (I wonder if it was punch they drank?!), and so to bed.”


Here I did make the workmen drink, and saw my coach cleaned and oyled; and, staying among poor people there in the alley, did I hear them call their fat child Punch, which pleased me mightily that word being become a word of common use for all that is thick and short.

Samuel Pepys Diary, Friday 30th of April 1669 in Long Acre (Covent Garden)
Punch and the Hangman | Artist unknown

7 comments

    • Thank you Toni 🙏😘
      I agree. It’s difficult being PC with slapstick violence. I fear true traditional unadulterated slapstick might be doomed. It needs to be outrageous to remain funny.

      Like

  1. We attended the Dicken’s Faire in SF a few years ago and they had a wonderful Punch and Judy show. My kids and I still frequently quote it! This was a lovely tribute and in the vain of the show. Well, done!

    Liked by 1 person

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