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THE POET AND THE FLY: 1, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Round the poet, ere he slumbered
Last Line: He had shut the creature in.
Subject(s): Flies


ROUND the Poet, ere he slumbered,
Sang the Fly thro' hours unnumbered;
Sauntered, if he seemed to doze,
O'er the arch that was his nose,
Darting thence to re-appear
In his subtly-chambered ear:
When at last he slept right soundly,
It transfixed him so profoundly,
Caused him agony so horrid,
That he woke and smote his forehead
(It's the course that poets take
When they're trifled with) and spake: --

"Fly! Thy brisk unmeaning buzz
Would have roused the man of Uz;
And, besides thy buzzing, I
Fancy thou'rt a stinging fly.
Fly -- who'rt peering, I am certain,
At me now from yonder curtain:
Busy, curious, thirsty fly
(As thou'rt clept, I well know why) --
Cease, if only for a single
Hour, to make my being tingle!
Flee to some loved haunt of thine;
To the valleys where the kine,
Udder-deep in grasses cool,
Or the rushy-margined pool,
Strive to lash thy murmurous kin
(Vainly) from their dappled skin!
Round the steed's broad nostrils flit,
Till he foams and champs the bit,
And, reluctant to be bled,
Tosses high his lordly head.
I have seen a thing no larger
Than thyself assail a charger;
He -- who unconcerned would stand
All the braying of the band,
Who disdained trombone and drum --
Quailed before that little hum.
I have seen one flaunt his feelers
'Fore the steadiest of wheelers,
And at once the beast would bound,
Kangaroo-like, off the ground.
Lithe o'er moor and marish hie,
Like thy king, the Dragon-fly;
With the burnished bee skim over
Sunlit uplands white with clover;
Or, low-brooding on the lea,
Warn the swain of storms to be!
-- Need I tell thee how to act?
Do just anything in fact.
Haunt my cream ('twill make thee plump),
Filch my sugar, every lump;
Round my matin-coat keep dodging,
In my necktie find a lodging
(Only, now that I reflect, I
Rather seldom wear a necktie);
Perforate my Sunday hat;
(It's a new one -- what of that?)
Honeycomb my cheese, my favourite,
Thy researches will but flavour it;
Spoil my dinner-beer, and sneak up
Basely to my evening tea-cup;
Palter with my final toddy;
But respect my face and body!
Hadst thou been a painted hornet,
Or a wasp, I might have borne it;
But a common fly or gnat!
Come, my friend, get out of that."

Dancing down, the insect here
Stung him smartly on the ear;
For a while -- like some cheap earring --
Clung there, then retreated jeering.
(As men jeer, in prose or rhyme,
So may flies, in pantomime;
We discern not in their buzz
Language, but the poet does.)

Long he deemed him at Death's door;
Then sprang featly to the floor,
Seized his water-jug and drank its
Whole contents; hung several blankets
Round his lair and pinned them fast:
"I shall rest," he moaned, "at last."
But anon a ghastlier groan
To the shuddering night made known
That with blanket and with pin
He had shut the creature IN.





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