MARTIN LUTHER AT POTSDAM
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,
- 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!
POEMS BY BARRY PAIN
"Martin Luther at Potsdam"
is reprinted from A Nonsense Anthology. Ed. Carolyn Wells.
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1915.