AFTER National Poetry Day
Yesterday I went to town
To get a nice new dressing-gown
(I like to buy my winter warms
Before the first cold winter storms)
And seasonal necessities
To help my household not to freeze.
Like bags of coal, and sacks of logs
And woolly collars for my dogs
- And then, as is my wont to do,
I went to spend an hour or two
In the public library,
Which is both very warm and free.
This library, like most, is manned
By female guards on every hand,
Fierce women of a certain age,
Who stand within their glassy cage
And fix you with Medusa stare
As if they're all too well aware
That back in 1983
You borrowed `Lady Chatterley'
And never, ever brought it back!
Their look is fierce, their brow is black
And so you hurry past their stare
And reach that blessed inner lair,
The Reference bit! That blessed den
Solely occupied by men!
Men with nothing else to do
But read last Sunday's arts review.
And there it was that yesterday
I sat down by a man who lay
Across the table, head in hands,
Like a man who understands
His life has only weeks to run
And all his work is still undone.
"What is it, friend?" I said to him,
"That you groan so loud and look so grim?
Are you suffering from shock?
Shall I pop out and get the doc?
Or if it's a lesser state you're in
Shall I fetch some aspirin?"
He shook his head and gave a sigh.
"It's very kind of you to try,
But nobody can help me now."
"Come, come," I said, "and tell me how
You've reached this pitiable state!
Was it something that you ate?"
"No, no," he said, "I fear you'll find
All my troubles in my mind..."
"Are you then some kind of nutter?"
Was what I was about to utter
When he said: "It may seem queer
But the reason I came in here
Was to write a roundelay
Because it's National Poetry Day!
Yes, I thought, it can't be hard
To be a once-every-12-months bard!
Just a little bit of verse,
Nice and short, neat and terse,
And I was really doing fine
Until I reached the second line!"
With haggard eyes and nails close bitten
He showed me what he had just written.
"I went down to the pub for a pint...
I went down to the pub for a pint..."
"Why didn't you carry on?" I said.
"Use your sense, man! Use your head!
Can you not see? Well, I'll save your time.
For the word `pint' there is NO rhyme.
Nothing in English rhymes with pint!
Not even `feint'! Not even `mightn't'!"
I opened my mouth but could not speak.
The man was right! "Pint" is unique!
I could not think of anything
That has the same unusual ring.
"If only we were down in Oz,"
He said, "it would be fine because
When the Aussies talk of `pint'
They rhyme it with `restraint' and `faint'.
`Pint' is something they put on a `painting'!!!"
The would-be poet fell back, half-fainting,
There I left him to his woe,
And though it's 24 hours ago,
I cannot forget his misery
As he scanned the rhyming dictionary
Looking for a rhyme for - ah, me!
I cannot write down P-I-N-T!
At least, not at the END of a line.
In the middle, "pint" is fine.
But at the end, it's a no-go zone,
For a rhyme for "pint" is quite unknown.
Or is it? Reader, if you know it,
Write and tell me, and I'll tell that poet.Reuse content