phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Pompatus of Love

Posted by Smokey Stover on April 23, 2004

In Reply to: Shropshire lad posted by Henry on April 21, 2004

: : : : : : : : : : In the US, we pronounce it "More-eese". I was just told that the British pronunciation of this is "Morris". Is this correct? How do you pronounce this across the pond?

: : : : : : : : : Morris - that's it.

: : : : : : : : Thanks. First "scones" and now "Maurice". I am sure that there are other words mispronounced
: : : : : : : : in the US. I guess I'll have to educate myself one word at a time.

: : : : : : : (Steve Miller Band)

: : : : : : : Some people call me the space cowboy, yeah
: : : : : : : Some call me the gangster of love
: : : : : : : Some people call me Maurice
: : : : : : : Cause I speak of the pompitous of love.

: : : : : : : "Pompitous" mystified millions when Steve Miller used it in his 1973 hit "The Joker": "Some people call me the space cowboy. / Yeah! Some call me the gangster of love. / Some people call me Maurice, / Cause I speak of the Pompitous of love."
: : : : : : :

: : : : : :
: : : : : : As I recall is "Maurice" was pronounced more like Mar-is rather than the American pronunciation of Mor-is. The vowel sounds are different. Where is Henry Higgins when you need him? I also wouldn't go as far as to say Americans are mispronouncing the name. The American pronounciation is closer to the French, and therefore, could be considered more correct since Maurice is a French name. British people also pronouce "cafe" like "calf" and filet as "fill-et" rather than "fill-ay". Don't get me started on the British pronounciation of the name, "Regina'. Suffice it to say it doesn't rhyme with "Tina". It's a funny old world.

: : : : : : Camel

: : : : : And the Brits have men called "Evelyn."

: : : : One of the great Britsh explorers of recent times was Sir Vivian Fuchs. One of the greatest cricket players was the West Indian batsman Vivian Richards, now retired. Big Daddy was an English wrestler born in Halifax, England in 1930 (or 1937) and christened Shirley Crabtree. I wouldn't want to make fun of his name. Here's a poem from A Shropshire Lad by A E Housman which includes a reference to Maurice.

: : : : "Farewell to barn and stack and tree,
: : : : Farewell to Severn shore.
: : : : Terence, look your last at me,
: : : : For I come home no more.

: : : : "The sun burns on the half-mown hill,
: : : : By now the blood is dried;
: : : : And Maurice amongst the hay lies still
: : : : And my knife is in his side.

: : : : "My mother thinks us long away;
: : : : 'Tis time the field were mown.
: : : : She had two sons at rising day,
: : : : To-night she'll be alone.

: : : : "And here's a bloody hand to shake,
: : : : And oh, man, here's good-bye;
: : : : We'll sweat no more on scythe and rake,
: : : : My bloody hands and I.

: : : : "I wish you strength to bring you pride,
: : : : And a love to keep you clean,
: : : : And I wish you luck, come Lammastide,
: : : : At racing on the green.

: : : : "Long for me the rick will wait,
: : : : And long will wait the fold,
: : : : And long will stand the empty plate,
: : : : And dinner will be cold."

: : : I wanted to join the fun and point out that John Wayne's real name was Marion Morrison and that if he was from England he wouldn't have had to change it, but that poem's a real downer, man.

: : Yeah, that poem is a bit of a downer, but a good read anyway. In fact, "A Shropshire Lad" is full of good reading. "Now I am two-and-twenty, and oh, 'tis true, 'tis true!" I wanted to mention that a few months ago the TV Guide listed a program called "The Pompatus of Love." If you look this up in any of the dictionaries in which I looked it up, you won't find it. SS

: I've crossed the path of Housman several times recently. Last year we went to look at the statue of Housman in his birthplace of Bromsgrove. I think that his home is now a hotel, so I would like to spend a night there too. My son is a student at Cambridge and this year his rooms are in Whewell's Court, very close to Housman's rooms. (Next year his rooms will be in the Great Court, the setting in Chariots of Fire for the race around the quad while the clock struck twelve.)

: Housman's autograph of A Shropshire Lad is on display in the Wren Library, next to the hand-written draft of Winnie-the-Pooh. Very strange bed-fellows! To mark the centenary of its publication, a friend, Polly Bolton, released a CD on which some verses are read by Sir Nigel Hawthorne, who won an Oscar for his part in The Madness of King George, and other verses are set to music by her and her band. It's a record I return to again and again. And last week on a visit to Shropshire I enjoyed a pint of beer called Shropshire Lad!

I readily concede that "A Shropshire Lad" is a far more worthy topic, but I was really curious about "Pompatus of Love," so I finally gave in and googled it. I'm sure you're sitting on the edge of your chair, so here's the story. In 1954 a group called the Medallions recorded a song called "The Letter" which caught Steve Allen's attention. There was no printed score available, and Vernon Green's performance of the song (which he also wrote) included a couple of words that he made up, and which were transcribed incorrectly by those who tried it. According to Green (who was 14 when he wrote the song), what was transcribed as "pompitous" or "pompatus" was actually "puppetute." This was, according to Green, "a term I coined to mean a secret paper-doll fantasy figure [thus puppet], who would be my everything and bear my children." Aren't you glad to know? SS