Edison Studios film The Night Before Christmas quotes sections of Clement Clark Moore's 1823 poem on intertitles (like the one shown here). We've been collecting examples of poems as they've been presented in various ways for audiences to read in films like Citizen Kane, G.I. Jane and The Grey and in TV episodes of Justified, Criminal Minds, and even the goofball crime-solving comedy Psych. Some of this is just our curiosity. Some of it is an extension of our interest in how poems and hymns around the turn into the twentieth century—like Oliver Wendell Holmes's "A Sun-Day Hymn" and Reginald Heber's "From Greenland's Icy Mountains"—were projected by magic lanterns to give audiences the then-new thrill of reading via a medium other than the material page. And some of it's a longer, more concerted effort to think toward a couple of new projects including (eventually) a new book as well as an article that we've been asked to write about the transitions in the culture of popular poetry between 1910 and 1920.
here), Kellogg's takes things several astonishing steps farther, constructing a trifold booklet with two sets of six panels inside that, when flipped back and forth on their stapled hinges, allows a reader or user to superimpose the body parts and verse captions of one set of animals onto another. In other words, it's a game of inter-species cross-dressing—animals who are doubly in drag, since they are first dressed up like humans ("we're dressed like men, you see," one verse points out) and then, thanks to the booklet's innovative architecture, re-dressed to "wear" the clothes and body parts of other animals.
"Let's change about," the Lion said.
Suppose we take the feet and heads
Of the Camel, Donkey and Kangaroo.
Our friends won't know us then, would you?
If you wish to see something queer,
Put other heads on the Cow, Horse and Deer.
Change their feet, too, try it and see
How very funny they all will be.
As the metrical variation that "too" in line three above might suggest—it changes up the metrical "foot" at the precise moment when readers are invited to "change [the animals'] feet," troping the motif of change in the pamphlet writ large—this is a pretty self-reflexive and (dare we say it?) unified aesthetic project from the vantage point of media. Even the seemingly incidental subject matter of the other verses—the refraction of light through water that produces rainbows in bubbles, the singing of songs, the "tortoise-mobiling" in the horse/pig panel pictured earlier, roller skating, and so on—keeps coming back to the topic of transmission and the tools by which various things (light, sound, bodies) get conveyed.
There was an old woman
Who lived in a shoe,
She had lots of children
But knew what to do.
She gave them Kellogg's Corn Flakes
Three times a day,
And they thrived and grew
In a marvelous way.
as we've discussed before, in soap ads. Instead, as the sheet music being held by the horse and cow in the panel pictured here appears to spell out, "Funny Jungleland Moving-Pictures" pitches itself—and Corn Flakes—as "A glee for mixed voices." Indeed, breakfast might be the most important meal of the day after all.