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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
  • Archys Life of Mehitabel, 1933
  • Archy Does his Part, 1935
  • The Lives and Times of Archy and Mehitabel, 1940
  • Archyology, 1996 (posthumous)
  • Achyology 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.


 there s a dance in the old dame yet

toujours gai toujours gai

 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
  • Painting the Medium
  • 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
  • talking animals well a typing animal at least
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