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The Brides of Lesbos

(A cautionary tale)

by Danny "Don Juan" Henrey

’Tis said, far out upon the azure waves,
Where the albatross wheels o’er sailors’ graves,
Where thoughts are boundless, and man’s soul is free,
That dreams move gently ’neath the dark blue sea:
Scintillas of light glint on the soft swell,
Like sparks of a mind that never can tell
The half of its visions of beauty and awe,
Whilst breakers rush in to kiss the wild shore,
Thus ocean and land, shunning all coquetry,
Embrace, under the moon’s silver ministry,
Again and again, like lovers alone,
Whose passion can never too often be known.
Far out upon the waters’ mighty flow
A Grecian barque its stately lines doth show,
Its sails were filled, and fair the light winds sighed,
Promise of pleasures not to be denied;
Upon the prow sat Harington the bold,
Strumming his lute, warbling this lay of old:
‘Alas, we cannot tell what is to come,
The past lies all behind, a little like my bum;
Where are you now? The crystal does not tell!
Forsooth! I fear I must unleash a smell!
How could a love so strong — tear apart!
I swoon, I die!’ He loosed a wayward fart.
The thunderclap whistled over the drink,
And over the crew; Todd, choked by the stink,
Rasped: ‘You will I sue for this rude lack of charm —
’Tis an offence, ’tis Grievous Nasal Harm! ’
Vex’d by this prattle, their Cap’n did goad,
‘Silence! No more! Keep your eyes on the road!’
For Henrey de Brent was a backward skipper,
Who could scarce tell a whale from a kipper;
Yet onwards she ploughed, the good ship Venus
Whilst Grant Deane toyed with his fine brass sextant:
The fading red sun struck a path through the billows,
The tired crew’s thoughts turned to soft Dunlopillos;
Chris sighed softly, his eyes weighed down by sleep,
And drew still closer his adoring black sheep;
Mad Jack was praying to the heavens above,
This his plaint: ‘Send me, O Lord, a one true love;
I don’t ask for much, Lord, just for a chick
Who’s gorgeous, willing, not thin nor too thick,
Who can cook and sew, keep an even keel,
Who’ll tickle my carbs, and change my spare wheel,
Go shopping for spark plugs, play nursey and mother,
And always say, "Yes!" to a bit of the other. ’
Masato and Graybags nod in accord;
Quoth they: ‘Aye, man, as Byron, must be lord
In contracts of the flesh.’— a sudden yell
Their brief discourse ends; all at once can tell
From whence it sprang, for from the crow’s nest high,
That rose severe against the dark’ning sky,
Shouts Hoey, in feathers black and cape yclad,
(As we all know, he is a keen and eager lad,
And, if he can, is rigged out for each part):
‘Shipmates, I espy, by my raven’s heart,
A Moorish skiff draw close:— my mind, it doth whirl,
For on it see I nought but nine fine girls! ’
Soon are the sea nymphs ta’en aboard, and all
Are sweet and fresh, unruffled by no squall,
And gratitude is writ upon their faces fair,
And one speaks, to answer the crew’s dumb stare:
‘Know, then, that we have fled a Sorceress,
In name, San Pellegrina of Lesbos,
A witch unnatural and vile, a hag
Who forced us all to share one sleeping bag,
And would have joined us there, beneath the trees,
Had we not glued her to her denim dungarees,
And flown when we might, hid in dusk’s sweet haze. ’
Her tale is done, the men stand round amazed,
But this to revelry soon turns, as Bacchus and his pards
The night time kindles, and Aphrodite’s darts
Find many a willing wound in manly flesh:
Each fair maid’s eye-beams in their turn did etch
Flourishes of rapture upon the hearts
Of ev’ry male — or ’pon some other part,
That care I not to name:— each sailor-knight
Is fast immured in his vision of delight:
Thus Steve, a doting paramour, takes pains
To fetter his love in winding Daisy chains;
George descends swiftly ’pon bended knee,
Willed by Susan’s evidental decree;
‘Cary’ Grant launches into vaudeville,
To woo in song Bonnie’s gentle will;
Richard Todd, in winning comely Cindy,
Forgets his ’vowed distaste of all things windy,
Whilst Rob, a master of romantic arts,
Courts Pammie with a phrase of loving farts;
Danny of dark Karen does beseech her
In tenderness to become his teacher,
And Chris, his pounding heart in high tumult,
From stout, sturdy Beth does Eros consult;
O’er Mad Jack and Jenny did the love god range,
Making a match strongly spiced, rich and strange;
Nought else would stop ardent Masato fret,
Than play pet lambkin to svelte Juliet:
So came all these Byronic hearts enmeshed,
Their lonely souls by beauty high refreshed,
And to the puissant fem’nine will enslaved:
Such is the destiny Aphrodite craves!
To what other doom need we yet aspire,
But a while to roast in love’s divine fire?
Ay me, ’tis so sublime, this joyous pain!
’Though I can’t help wishing, ev’ry now and again,
That I too had a key to my ball and chain!