by: Barry Pain (1867-1928)

      HAT lightning shall light it? What thunder shall tell it?
      In the height of the height, in the depth of the deep?
      Shall the sea-storm declare it, or paint it, or smell it?
      Shall the price of a slave be its treasure to keep?
      When the night has grown near with the gems on her bosom,
      When the white of mine eye is the whiteness of snow,
      When the cabman--in liquor--drives a blue roan, a kicker,
      Into the land of the dear long ago.
      Ah!--Ah, again!--You will come to me, fall on me--
      You are so heavy, and I am so flat.
      And I? I shall not be at home when you call on me,
      But stray down the wind like a gentleman's hat:
      I shall list to the stars when the music is purple,
      Be drawn through a pipe, and exhaled into rings;
      Turn to sparks, and then straightway get stuck in the gateway
      That stands between speech and unspeakable things.
      As I mentioned before, by what light is it lighted?
      Oh! Is it fourpence, or piebald, or gray?
      Is it a mayor that a mother has knighted,
      Or is it a horse of the sun and the day?
      Is it a pony? If so, who will change it?
      O golfer, be quiet, and mark where it scuds,
      And think of its paces--of owners and races--
      Relinquish the links for the study of studs.
      Not understood? Take me hence! Take me yonder!
      Take me away to the land of my rest--
      There where the Ganges and other gees wander,
      And uncles and antelopes act for the best,
      And all things are mixed and run into each other
      In a violet twilight of virtues and sins,
      With the church-spires below you and no one to show you
      Where the curate leaves off and the pew-rent begins!
      In the black night through the rank grass the snakes peer--
      The cobs and the cobras are partial to grass--
      And a boy wanders out with a knowledge of Shakespeare
      That's not often found in a boy of his class,
      And a girl wanders out without any knowledge,
      And a bird wanders out, and a cow wanders out,
      Likewise one wether, and they wander together--
      There's a good deal of wandering lying about.
      But it's all for the best; I've been told by my friends, Sir,
      That in verses I'd written the meaning was slight;
      I've tried with no meaning--to make 'em amends, Sir--
      And find that this kind's still more easy to write.
      The title has nothing to do with the verses,
      But think of the millions--the labourers who
      In busy employment find deepest enjoyment,
      And yet, like my title, have nothing to do!

"Martin Luther at Potsdam" is reprinted from A Nonsense Anthology. Ed. Carolyn Wells. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1915.




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