PRINCESS OF MARS is perhaps the best -- and it
is surely the best known -- science fiction
novel that Burroughs ever wrote.
Now here it is -- for the very first time -- in
the form of a poem. Or is it a parody? Or is it
a condensation, or even a review?
You will just have to read it and find out for
by CHARLES R. TANNER
THE PRINCESS OF MARS
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
(Of all the stories in the land, Least
liable to bore us
Is that of Captain Carter and
The lovely Dejah Thoris
It’s held its own with boys and men
Since ‘way back there in 1910.)
Captain John Carter, C.S.A., prospecting in
Beheld his partner, Powell, get an arrow in
He turned his horse around and ran, pursued
by painted braves;
With whoop-de-doo, they chased him through
the canyons and the caves.
He hid within a cave at last, a dismal place
The Indians came, a-searching him, but even
they were daunted
By something in the cavern dim -- then
Carter got a sniff
Of something old and dead and cold, and he
was frozen stiff!
He lay for hours within the cave, as still
and cold as ice;
He tried to wiggle, tried to squirm, he
tried to move -- no dice.
At last he felt a funny click -- by every
Grecian god! he Jumped up and gee!
He found that he was standing by his body!
Don’t get me wrong, no ghost was he, he
still was just as stolid
And grim and stern and handsome as before,
and just as solid.
He stepped outside the cave and looking up
beheld the stars.
A moment’s spark of cold and dark, and Bam!
He’s up on Mars!
The Martians known as Tharks were quite the
strangest ever seen;
With walrus tusks and four long arms,
fifteen feet high, and green.
They lived like desert Arabs, but instead of
sheep and goats,
Up there on Mars there’s zitidars, calots
and banths and thoats.
John Carter killed a warrior, and standing
by the carcass,
He saw a Thark walk up and say, “Good work!
My name’s Tars Tarkas.
“No one can have a friend on Mars, no one
can have a wife,
“But keep it quiet, friend, and I will be
your friend for life.”
One day, while Carter cleaned his guns and
hummed a little ditty,
An airship from far Helium came sailing o’er
They shot it down ’mid squeals and yells, a
wild and savage chorus;
And there inside was Helium’s pride -- the
lovely Dejah Thoris!
Oh “who is Sylvia, what is she, that all our
swains commend her?”
An who is Trojan Helen, e’en with Venus to
And who is Shakespeare’s Juliet? These
ladies all were quinces.
Not one would dare to risk compare with
Captain Carter’s princess.
John Carter as a fighter was a superman for
John Carter as a lover -- Let us quickly
draw the curtain. .
He stuttered, stammered, stumbled -- he was
in a dreadful state;
And only two clear words got through; he
muttered, “Let’s escape.”
“So forth from Alexandria --” (Beg pardon,
that’s a quote),
So forth from their imprisonment they rode
upon a thoat.
Across the dead sea bed they fled, past many
an ancient ruin,
Till, in dismay, they saw the next day the
green men were pursuin’.
The green men came up fast so she fled upon
John Carter told her, “Go, I’ll stay behind
and be the goat.”
But when the Martians got up close, he saw
they were no Tharks.
These savage goons were all Warhoons, a
damsite worse than sharks.
They took him to their city and they put him
in a cell.
He found that they had captured a red Helium
man as well --
A noble friendly fellow by the name of
And it really burned him up when he had to
fight the man.
The Warhoons like a battle, so they made
their prisoners fight
From early in the morning until pretty late
And then they turned the last one loose, so
Carter got a plan.
“It’s up to you to see me through,” he said
to Kantos Kan.
So Kantos killed a dozen men, and Carter
killed a score,
Then turned upon each other when there
weren’t any more;
And Kantos faked a sudden thrust and Carter
And lay there, stark, till after dark and
then got up and beat it.
Across the dead sea bottom Carter quickly
made his way,
And came across a great big building, late
the following day.
An old man bade him welcome, saying, “Enter
“For I’m the cheese that makes the breeze
that people breathe up here.”
(You see, the planet Mars is old and hasn’t
got a bit
Of natural atmosphere and so they
They have to keep it secret from the whole
blamed Martian race,
Or pretty soon some dumb Warhoon would try
to raid the place.”
The old man flattered Carter and he made him
stay for lunch
And said he had to spend the night, but
Carter got a hunch
That this old boy would kill him just to
keep his secret tight --
So with the dawn, J.C. was gone, continuing
Across the dead sea bottom (golly! here we
Came Carter to Zodanga where he joined the
And one day on the street he saw an old
“Well, knock me stiff,” said Carter, “if it
isn’t Kantos Kan!
Said Kantos Kan, “By Issus, you’re the guy
I’m glad to see.
“I’ve got a job to do and you can be a help
“These fellows caught our princess fair, as
from the Tharks she fled,
“And now the clown that runs the town
insists that they be wed.
John Carter said, indignantly, “Well,
whaddya think of that,
“I’ll wallop these Zodangans till they don’t
know where they’re at.
“The nerve of them! The princess is the girl
who’s won my heart.
“Them easy marks! I’ll get the Tharks and
take this place apart.”
He leaped upon his thoat and rode, with
Thark his journey’s end.
Tars Tarkas was their ruler now; he said,
“Hello, my friend.”
Said Carter, “I’ve got a job for you,. my
friend, so do you duty,
“And in the end you’ll get, my friend, a lot
of loot and booty.”
To make a long tale short -- they smote
Zodanga, hip and thigh;
The Tharks attacked them from the ground and
Helium from the sky.
Zodanga lost its freedom and its ruler lost
The Tharks got loot and wealth to boot --
and Carter got his wife.
For ten long years, ‘mid smiles and tears,
he led the life of Reilly
As Dejah Thoris’ husband. He was honored
And then, one day, he heard her say what
threw him for a loss:
“Your loving wife would bet her life they’ve
killed the air-plant boss!”
Said John, “Now that you mention it, it is
quite stuffy here.
“I guess it’s up to old J. C. to save the
He quickly called a flier and set off across
And flew and few till he came to the
airplant once again.
He fixed the air-plant up, all right, the
best that he could do,
But he was darned short-winded by the time
that he got through.
He gazed up at the sky, beheld the planet of
his birth --
A moment’s spark of cold and dark, and Bam!
he’s back on earth!
Oh, Edgar Burroughs antedated Joyce by
In writing stories that go ‘round in
circles, it appears.
If I were old John Carter, I would sure be
To fight so much with Tharks and such, and
wind up where I started.