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A Pastoral Poetaster's Paradise

by Chris "Childe Harold" Oakley

A dusky haze all in smoky grey
Is but faintly lit by the crescent star,
And slumber enfolds the copious array
Of drunkards who wander in meadows far,
Surrounded by joint and empty jar;
The debris of all-night revelry —
But gentle snoring would the silence mar,
And the cries of a fruit bat trying to flee
From an owl of most peculiar sexuality.

The dusk turns rose, a clearsome dawn,
Th’orient loft is stained pinksome and red,
But, as the lark stretches and stifles a yawn,
Its cry is full drowned and it flees in dread
From the pagan god Nige (who never goes to bed),
Who sings a top C to greet the morn,
A powerful sound! — fit to wake the dead:
The sound with the light, that illumines the lawn
Comes from the god with the snuff and the ready horn.

‘I can sing louder,’ comes a Celtic cry:
From a fev’rish manic with darksome looks —
’Tis the pagan god Greg who now speeds by —
‘None more loud, drunken, or more frequently nooks,’
He boasts, ‘nor brighter or learned in books!
The world’s full of silly, willy-less men,
Who should be put in a zoo, or hung from hooks!’
He sprays his throat; he pauses then;
And sings his ballad once more — louder again!

‘Ah mine ears! Mine head,’ cries Todd awaking.
‘Who will rid me of these turbulent boys?’
But no bold knights rush up, their cue taking;
So splutt’ring with rage; with acerbic poise
He quoth, ‘There’s a precedent; who annoys
With noise can be made from gibbet to swing!
For even the wild exuberant joys
Of pagan gods the Law to end can bring!’
And scans the books while they continue to sing.

All are waked by the fur’ous, fulsome din,
’Cept Steve Hoey who was awake before,
On Kettell’s roof — all night — soaking in gin
Did he perch — all winsome, lovelorn and sore.
The late-plucked forget-me-not hears his lore
As garlic-strewn and cross-decked he doth fret
For she who the devil has ta’en as whore.
He pines, ‘Woe for this accursed debt!
Woe is me, the poor crawfish caught in Satan’s net!’

All are awaken’d? Nay, all except one
Who snores on a double bed in a field,
Insensible to noise or beaming sun,
His lusting for sheep ostensibly healed
By Karen, who forbids him to yield
To fleecy lures — at least when he doth wake,
Though in his sleep he does galoshes wield
And chases ’cross pastures, his thirst to slake:
‘Muriel!’ he gasps, ‘My body — nay my soul take!’

But his voice is drowned by George Hector,
Who protests at the song in fulsome tones.
Shaking his fist at the sky, ‘You’d best scarper!’
He hollers, voicing the ambient moans
Of hung over rev’llers with aching bones.
He struts and he swears, his mouth all foaming,
But the gods in the sky ignore the groans,
(They’ve now got to bold Siegmund’s retrieving
Of the magical sword — while sleeps the grim Hunding).

‘What’s the point of this all?’ I hear you cry,
Though in Spenserian stanzas throughly
(A complex mode, Lord B. would testify,
Which needs four rhymes each stanza — not easy —
Although ‘throughly’ is not at all tricky),
You must be hoping this will have a point
Other than insulting our company.
Well, you’re wrong, but afore ye all aroint,
Pray get out your lighter and light another joint.