Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Voyage to Dulcarnon

I am, til God me bettre minde sende
At dulcarnon, right at my wittis ende.

--Troilus and Creseide

Mr Tate, in a parlous state,
Sailed away one day;
And we who dwell by the Longest Sea
Have never been able to say
Why a man in the prime of his milking time
Should suddenly up and say:
"I must sail away from the Longest shore
And the waters of Longest Bay;
For the sight of my socks, confuddled in flocks
Of blue and black and gray
Is a sight that has become, to me,
More grievous than I can say.

"I have studied the knees of philosophy
And many legs of lamb,
And watched the distant spires of smoke
Rise from the learned ham;
But the knotted locks of my twisted socks
And a softly whispered 'damn!'
Have poisoned the lees of my breakfast cup
Down to the dreariest dram,
Have unraveled the sleeve of all I believe
And tainted my morning jam,
Have shivered the snores of my slumber at dawn
With the dread that perhaps I am

"A laughingstock to the gapes and gawks
In the land of Dulcarnon."
The mermaids, singing for Mr Tate
Hastened his ship along,
Spurring his crew to all they could do
With snatches of amorous song,
And combing the seaweed out of their hair
With a slender ebony prong.
The eventual fate of Mr Tate
Was debated for long and long
By we who dwell by the Longest Sea
Far from Dulcarnon:

For some men say that Tate was fey
And now he will never grow old,
And the fishery women note that for swimming
The waters are deathly cold;
But some contend that the gods will defend
A man who has been so bold,
And they say an ungartered spirit
Will never be bought or sold,
And the moral of the Longest story
Will never cease to be told:
There was a man who stood for socks no more
And now will never grow old.

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