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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Guest Blogger: P.G. Wodehouse

For One Night Only (A Tragedy)

P.G. Wodehouse
I MET him in a crowd:
    As if with care ’twas weighted,
His shapely back was bowed,
    His brow was corrugated.
I asked him “Why so pale?
    What grief your soul has cankered?”
And gleaned his painful tale
    Over a friendly tankard.

“ONCE,” the sad wight began,
    “I knew not what the blues meant:
I was a genial man,
    And never shirked amusement.
I shot, I rode, I rinked,
    I trod the mazy measure:
My life, to be succinct,
    Was one long round of pleasure.

“IN those delightful days,
    I do not mind confessing,
That, if I had a craze,
    It was for perfect dressing.
One night – it serves to show
    How labor omnia vincit
I tied a perfect bow:
    I’ve not been happy since it.

“I WORKED with watchful eye,
    With fingers swift but wary:
It seemed a decent tie,
    But not extraordinary.
But when at length I gazed,
    To put the final clip in,
I staggered back, amazed,
    Ejaculating ‘Rippin’!’

“OH, had I but the pen
    That serves the inspired poet,
I’d try to picture, then,
    (With proper force and glow), it.
The billowy waves of white ...
    The folds ... The spick-and-span knot ...
Were I a bard, I might;
    But, as it is, I cannot.

“SUFFICE it to observe
    That on minute inspection
It showed in every curve
    The hall-mark of perfection.
The sort of tie which you
    When wrapped in sweetest sleep oc-
Casionally view:
    A tie to mark an epoch.

“THAT night no peer I owned,
    I carried all before me.
Society”—he moaned—
    “United to adore me.
Whenever I passed by,
    Men stopped their conversation,
Drank in that Perfect Tie
    In silent adoration.

“SINCE then the striking feat
    (Such dreams th’ ambitious male lure)
I’ve striven to repeat:
    Result: completest failure.
Though toiling, as I say,
    As much as blood and flesh ’ll,
The bows I tie today
    Are good, but nothing special.

“SO now my fellow-man
    I shun, no matter who ’tis:
As far as mortal can,
    I cut my social duties.
I seldom eat or rest,
    I’m gloomy, haggard, mirthless.
To one who’s known the best,
    All other things are worthless.”

Punch, June 10, 1903.

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