First World War Poetry Digital Archive

A Rhymed Epistle To E. L. G.

'Heigh ho! Howe dothe old Tyme gallop.' Bacon, Promus

Stanza I My honoured cousin, I'll not dwell Longtime upon your verse (so well Conceived) yet I am bound to tell How after many a patient puff, And later, many an angry snuff, I got into a regular huff That you had never written To say how badly bitten You were by your exam, Or else how well you'd smitten The Oxford-Senior Witan By letting off your cram. However ...; So clever, So well selected, And so unexpected Was this your happy rime It makes amend For lapse of time, So here I end, My chiding chime.

Canto II ... 'Is it physical To walk unbraced, and suck up the humours Of the dank morning?' Cool-as a Cheeser, Bacon I will no more than mention The Keswick grand convention Such speech would be amiss In such a thing as this. What I can best remember Of Keswick was the Camp Pitched in a field as damp As gutters in December. We woke at six or thereabouts; We woke to find our inner clouts As moist as Caustic Soda; To find our tent, a bell-tent, A very bell-jar, feculent With CO2, Cl, strong-blent With every pungent odour. We lay at night between wet rugs Found nothing, though, that rhymed with rugs--- And were the rugs a bit less hairy, And were the tent a bit more airy, Had fewer been the chilly gouts That dropped upon our snoring snouts, And warmer been the morning blast, And daintier been the plain repast, Less like strong bilge the stuff called tea, Less like roast wood the pie-pastry More plentiful the fruit and berry

Canto III 'Hail!' Bacon's Midsummer lced Cream Act III, scene i I went to Coniston one day And twice got drenched and had to pay Hotels to dry the wet away. The hail hailed, pricked and pained; The rain rained, rained, and rained; The clouds clouded, crowded round; The thunder thundered; the wind---wound.

Canto IV

1 'Awake.' Isaiah. 2 'Come forth.' Bacon, King John, Act IV, sc. i. 3 'Come, prepare yourself' do. 4 'See'st thou you littel birde?' Chaucer. 5 'Thank you.' Christopher Marlowe.

All such as dwelled in the tent of Sh! Hem! Now none of that! I mean---all them As cohabit my canvas limpet Were photographed thereby; and some imp hit On th' idea of appearing in nightclo'es (As the photographer came before 8 a.m.) So in turbans of towels, and baggy pyjamas We were actually taken; and what with the right-pose, Right-exposure, et cetera, we look like real 'salaamers'.

Canto V

'Damn all thieves' Keats I can see how you stare At this startling quotation, Quite amazed that I dare Say that Keats thus could swear. But 'tis a citation From one of his letters, And I make no filtration Of words of my betters; So there! And indeed I would add 'Secret Borrowers too', And every vile cad To whose mind 'me and you' Are one and the same. For I think it a shame That my bike, so well prized, Some knaves have bestridden, And one has so ridden As to hug a stone wall Or somehow to fall, And has made a nice mess, (Shape of pedal - an S) Hurt the mudguard no less And the nickel and all!

Epilogue 'Wind up' Bacon, King Lear, Act IV, sc, vii I tried in an hour To concoct this epistle; ---'Twas beyond my poor power, And, by that deep Whistle, I've been nearly two. Time, then, for dismissal And closing adieu. Dear fellow, do send me Another of yours For I've none to befriend me When Dunsden immures. And perhaps I will send you Another of mine. And so I commend you To heaven benign.

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