No glass of ours was ever raised
To toast the Queen.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.
Talitha poem by Lewis Carroll
The Walrus and The Carpenter
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright--
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done--
"It's very rude of him," she said,
"To come and spoil the fun!"
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead--
There were no birds to fly.
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
"If this were only cleared away,"
They said, "it would be grand!"
Swept it for half a year.
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each."
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head--
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat--
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't any feet.
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more--
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
"Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!"
"No hurry!" said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.
"Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed--
Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed."
Turning a little blue.
"After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!"
"The night is fine," the Walrus said.
"Do you admire the view?
And you are very nice!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf--
I've had to ask you twice!"
"To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"The butter's spread too thick!"
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none--
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.
I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o'clock our neighbours drove me home.
He had always taken funerals in his stride--
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,
He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.
Love's mysteries in souls do grow
But yet the body is his book
Strapped on, wheeled out, forklifted, locked
In position for the drive,
Bone-shaken, bumped at speed,
In her vacated corner seat, me flat on my back--
Our postures all the journey still the same,
Our eyebeams threaded laser-fast, no transport
Ever like it until then, in the sunlit cold
When we might, O my love, have quoted Donne
On love on hold, body and soul apart.
Apart: the very word is like a bell
That the sexton Malachy Boyle outrolled
In illo tempore in Bellaghy
As college bellman, the haul of it there still
In the heel of my once capable
And lag in yours throughout that journey
When it lay flop-heavy as a bell-pull
Glendoan, our gaze ecstatic and bisected
By a hooked up drip-feed to the cannula.
The charioteer at Delphi holds his own,
His six horses and chariot gone,
His left hand lopped
Bronze reins astream in his right, his gaze ahead
Empty as the space where the team should be,
Doing physio in the corridor, holding up
As if once more I'd found myself in step
Each slither of the share, each stone it hit
Registered like a pulse in the timbered grips.
Pale blue heavenly air is supporting
A white wing beating high against the breeze,
All of us there trooped out
Among the briar hedges and stripped thorn,
Anahorish Hill to scan the blue,
Back in that field to launch our long-tailed comet.
Lifts itself, goes with the wind until
It rises to loud cheers from us below.
Unspooling, the kite a thin-stemmed flower
Climbing and carrying, carrying farther, higher
And gazing face and heart of the kite flier
Until string breaks and—separate, elate—
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.
Old bridges breaking between you and me
Confident that we have built our wall.
Not the one who takes up his bed and walks
But the ones who have known him all along
And carry him in –
In their backs, the stretcher handles
Slippery with sweat. And no let‐up
And raised to the tiled roof, then lowered for healing.
Be mindful of them as they stand and wait
Their slight lightheadedness and incredulity
To pass, those ones who had known him all along.
Death Of A Naturalist
Most birds of the air could repose;
But they all flew away at the closing of day,
Which relieved that Old Man and his nose.