Apocalyptic Rhymes

by Emma Overton

Note: This first appeared on the now-defunct comedy website, Nearly Robots in 2012.

In his 17th century poem “To His Coy Mistress,” Metaphysical Poet, Andrew Marvell wrote a beautiful passage about seizing the moment with a lover:

“The grave’s a fine and private place,

But none, I think, do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue

Sits on thy skin like morning dew,

And while thy willing soul transpires

At every pore with instant fires,

Now let us sport us while we may,

And now, like amorous birds of prey,

Rather at once our time devour

Than languish in his slow-chapt power.

Let us roll all our strength and all

Our sweetness up into one ball,

And tear our pleasures with rough strife

Thorough the iron gates of life:

Thus, though we cannot make our sun

Stand still, yet we will make him run. “

The fleeting nature of time and our duty to celebrate the moment in harmonious rapture was never so elegantly expressed. That is, until Pitbull rehashed it in 2012:

“For all we know we might not get tomorrow

Let’s do it tonight.”

Truer words never spoken, Pitbull. The Metaphysical poets and Pitbull have something in common. Hundreds of years later and dudes are still trying to coerce girls into doing it by telling them that they might die the next day. Not only that, but it took Marvell forty-six lines to get to the point. Pitbull made his version short enough to Tweet with space left over for a #MrWorldwide hashtag.

This is far from the only song on the radio with this “let’s do it before we die” message. However, for the Metaphysical poets, I think the impending doom they were imagining was something like the Bubonic Plague or getting eaten by rats whereas the worm that has crawled into the head of contemporary pop music writers seems to be the Mayan calendar-predicted apocalypse. Pitbull is not the only one worried about getting it in before the rapture, Ke$ha takes a depressingly morbid spin on the theme:

“Let’s make the most of the night like we’re gonna die young

We’re gonna die young

We’re gonna die young”

She literally just chants “we’re gonna die young” for the chorus. It makes it very unsettling to watch children sing along to it.

The most literal of them all, and my personal favourite, is Jesse LaBelle’s “One Last Night.” Jesse does not mince words on this one. He is here to get that Apocalypse ass: “If the Mayans are right, at least we’ll have one last night.”

He clearly establishes to his lady that she has two options: die a horrific death tomorrow or die a horrific death tomorrow having been banged by Jesse Labelle.

The theme is steadfastly maintained throughout the song:

“Before we all perish, I’m taking you to Paris.”

Jesse LaBelle’s girlfriend: “Paris! Wow! Wait, what was that first thing you said?”

He reassures her that, if this apocalypse thing is going down, he’s got her back: “If the stars fell down, you wouldn’t miss them, I could move ’em, paint a picture like a Vincent.” Vincent who? There’s no time for the whole name of the painter! It’s the rapture!

Then he cuts right to the chase. However, like a white man uncomfortably grinding up on some girl in the club, he has a rapper do the dirty talking for him:

“So if the Earth got to rocking’ and the planet was doomed

Would you ride upon my rocket

And get off on the moon.”

Jesse’s girlfriend: “I’m concerned about the stability of this aircraft.”

Finally, Jesse reminds us that if it’s the evening before the Apocalypse, why not go for the gold and ask for that one thing you really want. What do you have to lose, right?

“And if the world ends by a meteor right

You could bring your girlfriend

Then we’ll make it our night

Tell her it’s alright

Let’s get into some trouble

Drive a double double

I’ma keep you up all night”

I wonder if Marvell ever tried to throw a loose allusion to a threesome in any of his poems…

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