A Flying Visit.

A poem by Thomas Hood

"A Calendar! a Calendar! look in the Almanac, find out moonshine - find out moonshine!" - Midsummer Night's Dream.


The by-gone September,
As folks may remember,
At least if their memory saves but an ember,
One fine afternoon,
There went up a Balloon,
Which did not return to the Earth very soon.


For, nearing the sky,
At about a mile high,
The Aëronaut bold had resolved on a fly;
So cutting his string,
In a Parasol thing
Down he came in a field like a lark from the wing.


Meanwhile, thus adrift,
The Balloon made a shift
To rise very fast, with no burden to lift;
It got very small,
Then to nothing at all;
And then rose the question of where it would fall?


Some thought that, for lack
Of the man and his pack,
'Twould rise to the cherub that watches Poor Jack;
Some held, but in vain,
With the first heavy rain
'Twould surely come down to the Gardens again!


But still not a word
For a month could be heard
Of what had become of the Wonderful Bird;
The firm Gye and Hughes,
Wore their boots out and shoes,
In running about and inquiring for news.


Some thought it must be
Tumbled into the Sea;
Some thought it had gone off to High Germanie
For Germans, as shown
By their writings, 'tis known
Are always delighted with what is high-flown.


Some hinted a bilk,
And that maidens who milk,
In far distant Shires would be walking in silk:
Some swore that it must,
"As they said at the fust,
Have gone again' flashes of lightning and bust!"


However, at last,
When six weeks had gone past,
Intelligence came of a plausible cast;
A wondering clown,
At a hamlet near town,
Had seen "like a moon of green cheese" coming down.


Soon spread the alarm,
And from cottage and farm,
The natives buzz'd out like the bees when they swarm;
And off ran the folk, -
It is such a good joke
To see the descent of a bagful of smoke.


And lo! the machine,
Dappled yellow and green,
Was plainly enough in the clouds to be seen:
"Yes, yes," was the cry,
"It's the old one, surely,
Where can it have been such a time in the sky?"


"Lord! where will it fall?
It can't find out Vauxhall,
Without any pilot to guide it at all!"
Some wager'd that Kent
Would behold the event,
Debrett had been posed to predict its descent.


Some thought it would pitch
In the old Tower Ditch,
Some swore on the Cross of St. Paul's it would hitch;
And Farmers cried "Zounds!
If it drops on our grounds,
We'll try if Balloons can't be put into pounds."


But still to and fro
It continued to go,
As if looking out for soft places below;
No difficult job,
It had only to bob
Slap-dash down at once on the heads of the mob:


Who, too apt to stare
At some castle in air,
Forget that the earth is their proper affair;
Till, watching the fall
Of some soap-bubble ball,
They tumble themselves with a terrible sprawl.


Meanwhile, from its height
Stooping downward in flight,
The Phenomenon came more distinctly in sight:
Still bigger and bigger,
And strike me a nigger
Unfreed, if there was not a live human figure!


Yes, plain to be seen,
Underneath the machine,
There dangled a mortal - some swore it was Green;
Some mason could spy;
Others named Mr. Gye;
Or Holland, compell'd by the Belgians to fly.


'Twas Graham the flighty,
Whom the Duke high and mighty
Resign'd to take care of his own lignum-vitæ;
'Twas Hampton, whose whim
Was in Cloudland to swim,
Till e'en Little Hampton looked little to him!


But all were at fault;
From the heavenly vault
The falling balloon came at last to a halt;
And bounce! with the jar
Of descending so far,
An outlandish Creature was thrown from the car!


At first with the jolt
All his wits made a bolt,
As if he'd been flung by a mettlesome colt;
And while in his faint,
To avoid all complaint,
The muse shall endeavor his portrait to paint.


The face of this elf,
Round as platter of delf,
Was pale as if only a cast of itself;
His head had a rare
Fleece of silvery hair,
Just like the Albino at Bartlemy Fair.


His eyes they were odd,
Like the eyes of a cod,
And gave him the look of a watery God.
His nose was a snub;
Under which, for his grub,
Was a round open mouth like to that of a chub.


His person was small,
Without figure at all,
A plump little body as round as a ball:
With two little fins,
And a couple of pins,
With what has been christened a bow in the shins.


His dress it was new,
A full suit of sky-blue -
With bright silver buckles in each little shoe -
Thus painted complete,
From his head to his feet,
Conceive him laid flat in Squire Hopkins's wheat.


Fine text for the crowd!
Who disputed aloud
What sort of a creature had dropp'd from the cloud -
"He's come from o'er seas,
He's a Cochin Chinese -
By jingo! he's one of the wild Cherokees!"


"Don't nobody know?"
"He's a young Esquimaux,
Turn'd white like the hares by the Arctical snow."
"Some angel, my dear,
Sent from some upper spear
For Plumtree or Agnew, too good for this-here!"


Meanwhile with a sigh,
Having open'd one eye,
The Stranger rose up on his seat by and by;
And finding his tongue,
Thus he said, or he sung,
"Mi criky bo biggamy kickery bung!"


"Lord! what does he speak?"
"It's Dog-Latin - it's Greek!"
"It's some sort of slang for to puzzle a Beak!"
"It's no like the Scotch,"
Said a Scot on the watch,
"Pho! it's nothing at all but a kind of hotch-potch!"


"It's not parly voo,"
Cried a schoolboy or two,
"Nor Hebrew at all," said a wandering Jew.
Some held it was sprung
From the Irvingite tongue,
The same that is used by a child very young.


Some guess'd it high Dutch,
Others thought it had much
In sound of the true Hoky-poky-ish touch;
But none could be poz,
What the Dickins! (not Boz)
No mortal could tell what the Dickins it was!


When who should come pat,
In a moment like that,
But Bowring, to see what the people were at -
A Doctor well able,
Without any fable,
To talk and translate all the babble of Babel.


So just drawing near,
With a vigilant ear,
That took ev'ry syllable in, very clear,
Before one could sip
Up a tumbler of flip,
He knew the whole tongue, from the root to the tip!


Then stretching his hand,
As you see Daniel stand,
In the Feast of Belshazzar, that picture so grand!
Without more delay,
In the Hamilton way
He English'd whatever the Elf had to say.


"Krak kraziboo ban,
I'm the Lunatick Man,
Confined in the Moon since creation began -
Sit muggy bigog,
Whom except in a fog
You see with a Lanthorn, a Bush, and a Dog."


"Lang sinery lear,
For this many a year,
I've long'd to drop in at your own little sphere, -
Och, pad-mad aroon
Till one fine afternoon,
I found that Wind-Coach on the horns of the Moon."


"Cush quackery go,
But, besides you must know,
I'd heard of a profiting Prophet below;
Big botherum blether,
Who pretended to gather
The tricks that the Moon meant to play with the weather."


"So Crismus an crash
Being shortish of cash,
I thought I'd a right to partake of the hash -
Slik mizzle an smak,
So I'm come with a pack,
To sell to the trade, of My Own Almanack."


"Fiz bobbery pershal
Besides aims commercial,
Much wishing to honor my friend Sir John Herschel,
Cum puddin and tame,
It's inscribed to his name,
Which is now at the full in celestial fame."


"Wept wepton wish wept,
Pray this Copy accept" -
But here on the Stranger some Kidnappers leapt:
For why a shrewd man
Had devis'd a sly plan
The Wonder to grab for a show Caravan.


So plotted, so done -
With a fight as in fun,
While mock pugilistical rounds were begun,
A knave who could box,
And give right and left knocks,
Caught hold of the Prize by his silvery locks.


And hard he had fared,
But the people were scared
By what the Interpreter roundly declared;
"You ignorant Turks!
You will be your own Burkes -
He holds all the keys of the lunary works!"


"You'd best let him go -
If you keep him below,
The Moon will not change, and the tides will not flow;
He left her at full,
And with such a long pull,
Zounds! ev'ry man Jack will run mad like a bull!"


So awful a threat
Took effect on the set;
The fright, tho', was more than their Guest could forget;
So taking a jump,
In the car he came plump,
And threw all the ballast right out in a lump.


Up soar'd the machine,
With its yellow and green;
But still the pale face of the Creature was seen,
Who cried from the car
"Dam in yooman bi gar!"
That is, - "What a sad set of villains you are!"


Howbeit, at some height,
He threw down quite a flight
Of Almanacks, wishing to set us all right -
And, thanks to the boon,
We shall see very soon
If Murphy knows most, or the Man in the Moon!

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