Nobody knew why it should be so;
Nobody knew or wanted to know.
It might have been checked had but someone dared
To trace its beginnings; but nobody cared.
But ’twas clear to the wise that the Glugs of those days
Were crazed beyond reason concerning a craze.
They would pass a thing by for a week or a year,
With an air apathetic, or maybe a sneer:
Some ev’ryday thing, like a crime or a creed,
A mode or a movement, and pay it small heed,
Till Somebody started to laud it aloud;
Then all but the Nobodies followed the crowd.
Thus, Sym was a craze; tho’, to give him his due,
He would rather have strayed from the popular view.
But once the Glugs had him they held him so tight
That he could not be nobody, try as he might.
He had to be Somebody, so they decreed.
For Craze is an appetite, governed by Greed.
So on Saturday week to the Great Market Square
Came every Glug who could rake up his fare.
They came from the suburbs, they came from the town,
There came from the country Glugs bearded and brown,
Rich Glugs, with cigars, all well-tailored and stout,
Jostled commonplace Glugs who dropped aitches about.
There were gushing Glug maids, well aware of their charms,
And stern, massive matrons with babes in their arms.
There were querulous dames who complained of the “squash,”
The pushing and squeezing; for, briefly, all Gosh,
With its aunt and its wife, stood agape in the ranks –
Excepting Sir Stodge and his satellite Swanks.
The Mayor of Quog took the chair for the day;
And he made them a speech, and he ventured to say
That a Glug was a Glug, and the Cause they held dear
Was a very dear Cause. And the Glugs said, “Hear, hear.”
Then Sym took the stage to a round of applause
From thousands who suddenly found they’d a Cause.
THE FIRST RHYME OF SYM
We strive together in life’s crowded mart,
Keen-eyed, with clutching hands to over-reach.
We scheme, we lie, we play the selfish part,
Masking our lust for gain with gentle speech;
And masking too – O pity ignorance! –
Our very selves behind a careless glance.
Ah, foolish brothers, seeking e’er in vain
The one dear gift that liesso near at hand;
Hoping to barter gold we meanly gain
For that the poorest beggar in the land
Holds for his own, to hoard while yet he spends;
Seeking fresh treasure in the hearts of friends.
We preach; yet do we deem it worldly-wise
To count unbounded brother-love a shame,
So, ban the brother-look from out our eyes,
Lest sparks of sympathy be fanned to flame.
We smile; and yet withhold, in secret fear,
The word so hard to speak, so sweet to hear –
The Open Sesame to meanest hearts,
The magic word, to which stern eyes grow soft,
And crafty faces, that the cruel marts
Have seared and scored, turn gentle – Nay, how oft
It trembles on the lip to die unppoke,
And dawning love is stifled with a joke.
Nay, brothers, look about your world to-day:
A world to you so drab, so commonplace –
The flowers still are blooming by the way,
As blossom smiles upon the sternest face.
In everv hour is born some thought of love;
In every heart is hid some treasure-trove.
With a modified clapping and stamping of feet
The Glugs mildly cheered him, as Sym took his seat.
But some said ’twas clever, and some said ’twas grand-
More especially those who did not understand.
And some said, with frowns, tho’ the words sounded plain,
Yet it had a deep meaning they craved to explain.
But the Mayor said: Silence! He wished to observe
That a Glug was a Glug; and in wishing to serve
This glorious Cause, which they’d asked him to lead,
They had proved they were Glugs of the noble old breed
That made Gosh what it was . . . and he’d ask the police
To remove that small boy while they heard the next piece.
THE SECOND RHYME OF SYM
“Now come,” said the Devil, he said to me,
With his swart face all a-grin,
“This day, ere ever the clock strikes three,
Shall you sin your darling sin.
For I’ve wagered a crown with Beelzebub,
Down there at the Gentlemen’s Brimstone Club,
I shall tempt you once, I shall tempt you twice,
Yet thrice shall you fall ere I tempt you thrice.”
“Begone, base Devil!” I made reply –
“Begone with your fiendish grin!
How hope you to profit by such as I?
For I have no darling sin.
But many there be, and I know them well,
All foul with sinning and ripe for Hell.
And I name no names, but the whole world knows
That I am never of such as those.”
“How nowt’ said the Devil. “I’ll spread my net,
And I vow I’ll gather you in!
By this and by that shall I win my bet,
And you shall sin the sin!
Come, fill up a bumper of good red wine,
Your heart shall sing, and your eye shall shine,
You shall know such joy as you never have known.
For the salving of men was the good vine grown.”
“Begone, red Devil!” I made reply.
“Parch shall these lips of mine,
And my tongue shall shrink, and my throat go dry,
Ere ever I taste your wine!
But greet you shall, as I know full well,
A tipsy score of my friends in Hell.
And I name no names, but the whole world wots
Most of my fellows are drunken sots.”
“Ah, ha!” said the Devil. “You scorn the wine!
Thrice shall you sin, I say,
To win me a crown from a friend of mine,
Ere three o’ the clock this day.
Are you calling to mind some lady fair?
And is she a wife or a maiden rare?
‘Twere folly to shackle young love, hot Youth;
And stolen kisses are sweet, forsooth!”
“Begone, foul Devil!” I made reply;
“For never in all my life
Have I looked on a woman with lustful eye,
Be she maid, or widow, or wife.
But my brothers! Alas! I am scandalized
By their evil passions so ill disguised.
And I name no names, but my thanks I give
That I loathe the lives my fellow-men live.”
“Ho, ho!” roared the Devil in fiendish glee.
“‘Tis a silver crown I win!
Thrice have you fallen! 0 Pharisee,
You have sinned your darling sin!”
“But, nay,” said I; “and I scorn your lure.
I have sinned no sin, and my heart is pure.
Come, show me a sign of the sin you see!”
But the Devil was gone . . . and the clock struck three.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
With an increase of cheering and waving of hats-
While the little boys squealed, and made noises like cats –
The Glugs gave approval to Sym’s second rhyme.
And some said ’twas thoughtful, and some said ’twas prime;
And some said ’twas witty, and had a fine end:
More especially those who did not comprehend.
And some said with leers and with nudges and shrugs
That, they mentioned no names, but it hit certain Glugs.
And others remarked, with superior smiles,
While dividing the metrical feet into miles,
That the thing seemed quite simple, without any doubt,
But the anagrams in it would need thinking out.
But the Mayor said, Hush! And he wished to explain
That in leading this Movement he’d nothing to gain.
He was ready to lead, since they trusted him so;
And, wherever he led he was sure Glugs would go.
And he thanked them again, and craved peace for a time,
While this gifted young man read his third and last rhyme.
THE LAST RHYME OF SYM
(To sing you a song and a sensible song is a worthy and excellent thing;
But how could I sing you that sort of a song, if there’s never a song to sing?)
At ten to the tick, by the kitchen clock, I marked him blundering by,
With his eyes astare, and his rumpled hair, and his hat cocked over his eye.
Blind, in his pride, to his shoes untied, he went with a swift jig-jog,
Off on the quest, with a strange unrest, hunting the Feasible Dog.
And this is the song, as he dashed along, that he sang with a swaggering swing –
(Now how had I heard him singing a song if he hadn’t a song to sing?)
“I’ve found the authentic, identical beast!
The Feasible Dog, and the terror of Gosh!
I know by the prowl of him.
Hark to the growl of him!
Heralding death to the subjects of Splosh.
Oh, look at him glaring and staring, by thunder!
Now each for himself, and the weakest goes under!
“Beware this injurious, furious brute;
He’s ready to rend you with tooth and with claw.
Tho’ ’tis incredible,
Disappears suddenly into his maw:
Into his cavernous inner interior
Vanishes evrything strictly superior.”
He calls it “Woman,” he calls it “Wine,” he calls it “Devils” and “Dice”;
He calls it “Surfing” and “Sunday Golf’ and names that are not so nice.
But whatever he calls it-“Morals” or “Mirth”-he is on with the hunt right quick
For his sorrow he’d hug like a gloomy Gllig if he hadn’t a dog to kick.
So any old night, if the stars are right, vou will find him, hot on the trail
Of a feasible dog and a teasable dog, with a can to tie to his tail.
And the song that he roars to the shuddering stars is a worthy and excellent thing.
(Yet how could you hear him singing a song if there wasn’t a song to sing?)
“I’ve watched his abdominous, ominous shape
Abroad in the land while the nation has slept,
Marked his satanical
Rigorous, vigorous vigil I kept.
Good gracious! Voracious is hardly the name for it!
Yet we have only our blindness to blame for it.
“My dear, I’ve autoptical, optical proof
That he’s prowling and growling at large in the land.
Hear his pestiferous
Gurgles and groans of the beastliest brand.
Some may regard his contortions as comical.
But I’ve the proof that his game’s gastronomical.
“Beware this obstreperous, leprous beast –
A treacherous wretch, for I know him of old.
I’m on the track of him,
Close at the back of him,
And I’m aware his ambitions are bold;
For he’s yearning and burning to snare the superior
Into his roomy and gloomy interior.”
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Such a shouting and yelling of hearty Bravoes,
Such a craning of necks and a standing on toes
Seemed to leave ne’er a doubt that the Tinker’s last rhyme
Had now won him repute ‘mid the Glugs for all time.
And they all said the rhyme was the grandest they’d heard:
More especially those who had not caught a word.
But the Mayor said: Peace! And he stood, without fear,
As the leader of all to whom Justice was dear.
For the Tinker had rhymed, as the Prophet foretold,
And a light was let in on the errors of old.
For in every line, and in every verse
Was the proof that Sir Stodge was a traitor, and worse!
Sir Stodge (said the Mayor), must go from his place;
And the Swanks, one and all, were a standing disgrace!
For the influence won o’er a weak, foolish king
Was a menace to Gosh, and a scandalous thing!
“And now,” said the Mayor, “I stand here to-day
As your leader and friend.” And the Glugs said, “Hooray!”
Then they went to their homes in the suburbs and town;
To their farms went the Glugs who were bearded and brown.
Portly Glugs with cigars went to dine at their clubs,
While illiterate Glugs had one more at the pubs.
And each household in Gosh sat and talked half the night
Of the wonderful day, and the imminent fight.
Forgetting the rhymer, forgetting his rhymes,
They talked of Sir Stodge and his numerous crimes.
There was hardly a C3lug in the whole land of Gosh
Who’d a lenient word to put in for King Splosh.
One and all, to the mangiest, surliest dog,
Were quite eager to bark for his Worship of Quog.
Forgotten, unnoticed, Sym wended his way
To his lodging in Gosh at the close of the day.
And ’twas there, to his friend and companion of years –
To his little red dog with the funny prick ears –
That he poured out his woe; seeking nothing to hide;
And the little dog listened, his head on one side.
“O you little red dog, you are weary as I.
It is days, it is months since we saw the blue sky.
And it seems weary years since we sniffed at the breeze
As it hms thro’ the hedges and sings in the trees.
These we know and we love. But this city holds fears,
O my friend of the road, with the funny prick ears.
And for what me we hope from his Worship of Quog?”
“Oh, and a bone, and a kick,” said the little red dog.
(C J Dennis)
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Based on Keywords: sternest, heralding, sots, illiterate, wended, rumpled, obstreperous, shackle, rhymer, satellite, voracious