Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What? Me Worry?!

Bridging the gap in time from the point at which he lost his wife in the midst of the Great Depression to the post-war years, Samuel Bean showed up again in a brief mention in the Oakland Tribune. Evidently, he had come out with an updated version of his booklet of poetry—this time with the augmented title, “Light in Darkness and Other Poems by a Deaf-Blind Philosopher.”

Tribune columnist Ad Schuster put in a plug for Sam’s book at the top of his “Other Fellow” recap for the day on November 1, 1947, and shared a whimsical piece from the collection.
            Samuel W. Bean of Alameda, who is blind, writes verse, philosophical and topical and in it sings of the many doors that are open to those who cannot see. He is out with a little booklet called “Light in Darkness,” and the verse below is one of his lighter efforts. It is called “A Scribbler.”

To be a scribbler is no joke;
   E’en with an education,
Wall Mason was a whisky soak,
   And had no reputation.
Until he found himself dead broke
   And gave booze a vacation.

To be a scribbler then of verse,
   Your pencil you must nibble—
Next puff and stew, yea, even curse,
   While thought and feelings quibble.
Then dash off lines in frenzied haste
   And murmur, “Ish ka bibble.”

Above: "Ish Ka Bibble" postcard from 1915 (courtesy Wikipedia, in the public domain), possibly inspired by the 1913 song by George Meyer and Sam Lewis. Whether the song, the postcard, or the phrase's namesake comedian inspired Sam Bean to employ the nonsensical words, I have no clue...


  1. I'm glad to read one of Sam's poems. It's pretty clever.

    1. I guess I haven't really shared any of his serious poems. They are, of course, much longer--and more serious. But this was a fun one, quick and easy--and ironic how it fit in the timeline after all the stress of the war.

  2. My Grandparents used that phrase all the time..I have not heard it in years..brings back lots of memories:)

    1. I've heard the phrase before, but had no idea where it came from. Definitely didn't know about the song dating back a hundred years!

      It would be interesting to know how your grandparents used it. Just as a silly saying? Or carrying a specific meaning?

  3. My grandparents would say that phrase too - and then break up laughing. I don't know what the (inside) joke was...

    1. Anything that gets people laughing makes me want to know, too! Wonder if it was something about that song...

  4. Sam's lines "scan" wonderfully -- by which I simply mean, the meter really works well. He needed a rhyme for "quibble," and he found one! That is clever and resourceful.

    The more I read about Sam, the more I like him.

    Nice poem. And true.

    1. One of the fascinating things about Sam was that he never really seemed to lose the memory of how words sounded. His rhyming schemes couldn't have been solely dependent on sight, for some written endings that look the same certainly don't sound the same. And yet, he lost his ability to hear at a relatively young age--long before he developed the knack of composing verse, I would guess.


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