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Literature / archy and mehitabel

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"the most unlikely of friends"

archy and mehitabel
were a cockroach and a cat
archy had the soul
of a vers libre poet
and laboriously composed
by jumping on the keys
of don marquis s typewriter at night
while mehitabel supposedly
had the soul of cleopatra

his output was published
in the new york evening sun
starting in 1916
and later in the tribune
at first as filler
when marquis couldn t produce his column

in it archy told
marquis of his and
mehitabel s adventures
toujours gai toujours gai
the poems were
a satire of
urban life in
the 1920s

it is probably most famous
for the unusual typography
because archy couldn t
operate the shift key
the poems themselves
are underrated
and dismissed as gimmicky



  • archy and mehitabel 1927
  • archy s life of mehitabel 1933
  • archy does his part 1935
  • the lives and times of archy and mehitabel 1940
  • archyology 1996 (posthumous)
  • archyology II 1998
  • the annotated archy and mehitabel 2006


mel brooks co-wrote a musical shinbone alley based on the poems in 1957

western animation

an animated film of the brooks play was made in 1971


  • Aerith and Bob pretty self explanatory
    • then there was a time when the boss left the shift lock on for archys benefit but mehitabel made a jump for him see carnivore confusion below
      archy i got away but she unlocked the shift key
  • carnivore confusion mehitabel ate cockroaches and from time to time tried to eat archy
  • Direct Line to the Author: the poems were supposedly typed by archy at night and marquis would find them the next morning
  • gratuitous french
    there s a dance in the old dame yet
    toujours gai toujours gai
  • green aesop what the ants are saying
  • Advertisement:
  • heroic sacrifice freddy the rat
  • mst3k mantra
    boss i am disappointed in
    some of your readers they
    are always asking how does
    archy work the shift so as to get a
    new line or how does archy do
    this or do that they
    are always interested in technical
    details when the main question is
    whether the stuff is
    literature or not
  • No Punctuation Period for the same reason as the lack of capitals
  • Offing the Offspring mehitabel drowns her kittens
  • reincarnation both archy and mehitabel had human souls he a vers libre poet and she cleopatra and many others freddy the rat was a poet before and then there was the suicide club of bugs whose previous human selves had taken their own lives
  • shame if something happened mehitabel s discussion of her kittens
    ...they are living
    just now in an abandoned
    garbage can just behind
    a made over stable in greenwich
    village and if it rained
    into the can before i could
    get back and rescue them
    i am afraid the little
    dears might drown
    it makes me shudder just
    to think of it
  • talking animals well a typing animal at least
  • we all die someday archy speaks with a moth who wishes to get inside a light bulb even if it kills him the moth argues that life is short anyway and it is better to go out in a brief blaze of glory if you can
    i do not agree with him
    myself i would rather have
    half the happiness and twice
    the longevity

    but at the same time i wish
    there was something i wanted
    as badly as he wanted to fry himself