A Ramshackle Room

(As with all poetry, read it aloud so you can hear the sound of the verse, otherwise you won't be able to appreciate it.  RP.).

When the gusts are at play with the trees on the lawn,
        And the lights are put out in the vault of the night;
When within all is snug, for the curtains are drawn,
        And the fire is aglow and the lamps are alight,
Sometimes, as I muse, from the place where I am
My thoughts fly away to a room near the Cam.

'Tis a ramshackle room, where a man might complain
        Of a slope in the ceiling, a rise in the floor;
With a view on a court and a glimpse on a lane,
        And no end of cool wind through the chinks of the door;
With a deep-seated chair that I love to recall,
And some groups of young oarsmen in shorts on thewall.

There's a fat jolly jar of tobacco, some pipes"" 
        A meerschaum, a briar, a cherry, a clay"" 
There's a three-handled cup fit for Audit or Swipes 
        When the breakfast is done and the plates cleared away.
There 's a litter of papers, of books a scratch lot, 
Such as Plato, and Dickens, and Liddell and Scott

And a crone in a bonnet that's more like a rag
        From a mist of remembrance steps suddenly out;
And her funny old tongue never ceases to wag
        As she tidies the room where she bustles about;
For a man may be strong and a man may be young,
But he can't put a drag on a Bedmaker's tongue.

And, oh, there's a youngster who sits at his ease
        In the hope, which is vain, that the tongue may run down,
With his feet on the grate and a book on his knees,
        And his cheeks they are smooth and his hair it is brown.
Then I sigh myself back to the place where I am
From that ramshackle room near the banks of the Cam.


Feb. 9, 1910.

Transcribed from Poems from Punch by Roger Pearse, 2001.

This page has been online since 15th June 2001.

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