Works in the Herald 1934

“Cavalcade, n. A company of riders. From Latin caballus, a horse.” The Oxford Dictionary.

There’s a cavalcade of errors “cavalcading” thro’ the land
Since Mr Noel Coward with a rather lavish hand,
   And that lofty scorn of English which stage geniuses know,
   Cats one bright pearl inaptly while mislabelling his show.
Now in journalistic quarters and in literary dens
Quite a cavalcade of writers, pushing cavalcades of pens,
   Go gaily “cavalcading” over quite unequine scenes
   With all the brilliant bombast of demented horse-marines.

I love the sound of “Cavalcade,” a word that I hold dear,
Not only for the sound of it that so delights the ear,
   But for the pictures it creates of merry men and maids
   Atrooping down some sylvan scene in joyous cavalcades.
Full many a new and ancient scene it lovingly befits;
There’s a creak of saddle leather and a jingling of the bits,
   And tossing plumes and tossing manes against a soft blue sky,
   Or else the rhythmic patter of the drovers riding by.

But a ”cavalcade of golfers,” a “cavalcade of ships”
A “happy hiking cavalcade” –- who’d tolerate such slips?
   A “cavalcade of history,” a “city’s cavalcade”
   With motor-cars and traffic lights; so phrases are ill-made
Till cavalcades of fishes go a-galloping the sea,
Or cavalcades of cockatoos neigh in some bushland tree.
   Thus they confuse the mental eye with pictures quite absurd,
   This sorry tribe of scribblers who misuse a lovely word.

Let us heed our derivations, with a due respect for roots;
Let the right word fill the picture as pedestrians their boots;
   Nor see to saddle fishing smacks nor bridle aeroplanes
   Nor vision migrant swallows trotting by with tossing manes,
Nor strew a lovely language with errors so absurd,
Where every word awakes a scene and every scene its word.
   Keep you “crowd” and your “procession,” your “pageant” and “parade”;
   Lacking cavalier or cavalry why drag in “cavalcade”?

Herald, 13 December 1934, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2003