Summer Portents

A poem by John Kendall

Come, let us quaff the brimming cup
Of sorrow, bitterness, and pain;
For clearly, things are warming up
Again.

Observe with what awakened powers
The vulgar Sun resumes the right
Of rising in the hallowed hours
Of night.

Bound to the village water-wheel,
The motive bullock bows his crest,
And signals forth a mute appeal
For rest.

His neck is galled beneath the yoke:
His patient eyes are very dim:
Life is a dismal sort of joke
To him.

Yet one there is, to whom the ox
Is kin; who knows, as habitat,
The cold, unsympathetic box,
Or mat;

Who urges on, with wearied arms,
The punkah's rhythmic, laboured sweep,
Nor dares to contemplate the charms
Of sleep.

Now 'mid a host of lesser things
That pasture through the heaving nights,
The sharp mosquito flaps his wings,
And bites;

With other Anthropophagi,
Such as that microscopic brand
The common Sand-fly (or the fly
Of sand),

Who, with a hideous lust uncurbed
By clappings of the frequent palm,
Devours one's ankles, undisturbed,
And calm.

The scorpion nips one unaware:
The lizard flops upon the head:
And cobras, uninvited, share
One's bed.

Oh, if I only had the luck
To feel the grand Olympic fire
That thrilled the Greater when they struck
The lyre!

When Homer wrote of this and that:
When Dante sang like one possessed:
When Milton groaned and laboured at
His Best!

Had I the swelling rise and fall,
Whereof the Bo'sun's quivering moan
Derives a breezy fragrance all
Its own:

Oh, I would pour such passion out -
Good gracious me! - I would so sing
That you should know the facts about
This thing!

Then w-w-wake, my Lyre! O halting lilt!
O miserable, broken lay!
It may not be: I am not built
That way.

Yet other gifts the gods bestow.
I do not weep, I do not grieve.
Far from it. I shall simply go
On leave.

Reader Comments

Tell us what you think of 'Summer Portents' by John Kendall

comments powered by Disqus

Home | Search | About this website | Contact | Privacy Policy