A coachman blows crumbled tobacco into
the nostrils of a prostrate horse. We call
this stroke ‘the staggers’. Two friends who
begin a duel in jesting, and both fall
die thus for friendship’s sake. Carefully pass
the whores in doorways blurring can with might.
Venison, neat’s tongue, sparrows-
no company at home, less appetite.
And even in cheating there are rational ways.
Turn thus away and no gold coins are found
though some are taken; keep from plays
three months by binding vow, or put ten pound
into the poor-
days into nights in service of the King
whom all men cheat, and most men doubt.
Eyes weary at the task must still be reading,
ears must have music. Every day’s amount
fills columns, rendering account
hard to make balance with occasional
omissions and revisions. Blood from a sheep
transfused into a madman. For who can
detail it all -
by ghosts inside the flues -
gazing in church upon the handsome hook-
nosed daughter of a neighbour till he comes
thinking of having her. That look
feasting or fasting sweeps up all the crumbs
of what it sees, and as it feeds it grows.
At home the books are listed for the press
and wife, poor wretch, is ill of those,
while Bagwell shocks with her full nakedness
at Deptford. Now the cellar floods with turds,
the city burns, a neighbour drops down dead,
The staggers. Cannon sound, more words
encrypted in the dark. Then off to bed.
|The Cave of Androutsos|
|No Place Like It|
|Byron's Albanian Costume|
|Visiting the Great Tree|