Monday, July 18, 2005


Pulled down my Logue books and discovered a copy of his first US volume, Songs (McDowell, Oblensky, 1959). Some fantastic ballads in here. This one riffs off of "Tom o' Bedlam's Song," which gets quoted in King Lear and which Harold Bloom is liable to affectingly recite at the drop of a hat:

The Song of Mad Tom's Dog

Once I dreamed and O I
Dreamed – hens dream of millet –
That I ate a mutton leg
Sweetened by much dancing,
One fat bone within it, yes,
One fat bone within it.

And to smell my dreamy
Bone's creaming marrow split
Promised better – lick for lick –
Than my truly wedded bitch;
So much so I growled and Tom
Woke me with a kick, yes,
Woke me with a kick.

Then I had as much to say
As any witty fish except
His mouth is wet as water,
So I listened while my tongue
Lolled against the Master:
Why make yourself a dog, sir,
Just for a dreamy bone, yes,
Just for a dreamy bone.

And this one troubles my sleep:


Here is the guillotine,
Here its good blade,
Here is the convict,
Here is the judge and,
Here the skilled headsman.
Here is a juror,
    and eleven more
    sensible fellows
    never in court before.

Here is the judgement,
Here is the crime,
Here is the punishment,
    in our God's name
    in your name and mine
    go from the court-house
    into the lime.

Here are three Sundays,
Here is the warden,
Here is God's spokesman,
    and here, beside him,
    the convict's weight
    and how he will die
    gleam like steel
    in the hangman's blue eye.

Here is the frail throat,
Here is the knot
    long as a thumb,
Here is the spring from
Here to eternity
    dressed in a hood.
    And be it a man
    or a woman, they shit
    themselves and they come
    as they swing,
    and their necks get as long
    as a baby's arm
    over the side of a pram,
    as the soul goes adrift.

Here is the court-house,
Here is the hangman,
Here he is sleeping,
Here is his candle,
    and the dozen true men
    have provided a daughter
    to comfort his slumber.

1 comment:

egyptiansally said...

"Lullaby" is great. That last stanza is quite beautiful. Hmm. Guess I've established my sincere appreciation for morbid poetry.