"Hattie's Day" is one of the earliest known decipherable poems, and is highly enigmatic in its structuring. Divided into two main sections, the first section is a short account of a day in the life of a "quaint country lass" called Hattie, and the second is a brief and starkly surreal account the meaning of which is highly obscure. Several theories have been offered to account for the poem, but the most obvious of which--that Hattie's Day is in fact two poems conjoined as a joke--goes against all the available evidence we have, including the handful of contemporary accounts of its appearance.
The poem opens by setting the scene, introducing Hattie's way of life--a very rural, pastoral vision, with Hattie being a farmhand working for several farms in her area. The poem is written sometimes with Hattie describing events in the first person, and sometimes describing Hattie in the third, but manages to seamlessly shift between the two. The site of the farms has recently been identified through internal evidence in the poem to be the area surrounding Odlucia, and several of the landmarks mentioned in the poem resemble the descriptions of those that were pulled down for the building of the Odlucian Library.
The first section is especially interesting to historians for its account of several practices of the past that, were it not for this poem, we would now be otherwise unaware. For example, mice cankering, referred to on several occasions in chapbooks of the time, would be an unknown process were it not for the vivid description in this poem. From a layperson's point of view, the poem is interesting for its highly lyrical quality and superb use of anacoluthon and sententia; it is a popular reading at all major calendar events, notwithstanding its difficult language.
This is an altogether different style of verse: it tends towards the dramatic, the revalatory, the powerful, and the bizarre. Images of sparkling aedeaguses adorning walls; apparitions convincing farm animals to lie upside down in wintery streams until they freeze there; pink clouds in the sky that explode and strew couthblossom across the plains; and visionary melons with sabre teeth and straw beds--this imagery has rarely been matched in any field of literature since, and its qualities make it a constant bafflement for scholars.
Every Bureau of Forgotten Knowledge president from Meldersen onwards has declared that the previous president's proclamations on the issue are completely false, and that our "current enlightened era" know the secrets to the poem, but the obvious truth of the matter is that we still have a long way to go before realising what, if anything, this whole poem means.
--Sean B. Palmer 12:59, 5 Nov 2004 (EST)