Omar Out Of Date

A poem by John Kendall


Wake! for Reveillée scatters into flight
The flagging Rearguard of a ruined Night,
And hark! the meagre Champion of the Roost
Has flung a matins to the Throne of Light.

Here, while the first beam smites the sullen Sky,
With silent feet Hajâm comes stealing nigh,
Bearing the Brush, the Vessel, and the Blade,
These sallow cheeks of mine to scarify.

How often, oh, how often have I sworn
Myself myself to shave th' ensuing Morn!
And then - and then comes Guest-night, and Hajâm
Appears unbidden, and is gladly borne.

Come, fill the Cup! The nerve-restoring Ti
Shall woo me with the Leaf of far Bohi;
What matter that to some the Koko makes
Appeal, to some the Cingalese Kofi?

For in a minute Toil, that ever thrives,
Awaits me with her Shackles and her Gyves,
And ever crieth Folly in the streets:
'To work! for needs ye must when Shaitân drives.'

Alas! that I did yesternight disport
With certain fellows of the baser Sort,
Unheedful of the living consequence
When Drinks are long, and Pockets all too short!

With them the game of Poka did I play,
And in wild session turned the Night to Day;
And many a Chip I dropped upon the Board,
And many a Moistener poured upon the Clay.

I put my Pile against th' Improbable,
And with a Full Hand thought to make it swell;
And this was all the Profit that I reaped:
A Full of Kings is Heaven - and Fours are Hell!

Then to the Mountain Dew I turned to seek
New courage for the Vengeance I should wreak;
And once again came Fours, again the Flesh
Was willing, and the Spirits far from weak.

O Friend of pseudo-philosophic Calm,
Who found within the Cup a life's Aram,
Thy counsel, howsoever fair to read,
Were passing bad to follow, friend Khayyam!

Was it not Suleiman the Wise that said:
Look not upon the Wine when it is red?
And Suleiman the Wise knew What was Which,
Though that great Heart of his outmatched his Head!

Ah! with the Pledge a Door of Refuge ope
To wean my footsteps from the facile Slope,
And write me down, fulfilled of Self-esteem,
A Prop and Pillar of the Band of Hope;

That in the Club, should whilom Comrades try
To lure me to a Roister on the sly,
The necessary Zeal I may not lack
To turn away, nor wink the Other Eye!

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