Sonntag, 17. September 2017

Harry Graham (47)

Eine Ballade aus »Adam's Apples«:
Harry Graham: Chance

Though most of us may disbelieve in fairies,
   And label Luck a superstitious myth,
If we'd had an experience like Mary's
   (I mean, of course, my cousin Mary Smith)
We certainly should realize, like her,
How oft the Unexpected does occur.

An aunt of hers, old Mrs Smith (of Barnet),
   Had given her a bracelet, subtly chased –
Two aluminium snakes with eyes of garnet
   Whose bodies were adroitly interlaced –
A bangle which poor Mary couldn't bear
But felt herself in duty bound to wear.

Last year she took her aunt off to the Lido,
   And there upon the sunny sands reclined
Or scudded through the waves like a torpedo –
   She looked so like one, too, from just behind –
While Mrs Smith sat by and viewed the scene
Or read the Barnet Parish Magazine.

One day, as Mary sported in the ocean,
   A shadow loomed beside her, slim and dark;
She heard a boatman cry, with deep emotion:
   »Guardati! Pesce cane!« (»Mind the shark!«)
And, making headlong for the shore forthwith,
She sprang into the arms of Mrs Smith!

»Thank God you're safe!« said Auntie, fondly kissing
   Her niece's pallid cheek and anguished brow;
»But what is this, my child? Your bracelet's missing!
   You must have dropped it in the sea just now!
We can't allow that heirloom to be lost.
It must be found at once, whate'er the cost!«

»Perhaps the shark has swallowed it,« said Mary.
   »If so,« said Auntie, »he should be ashamed!
Send for the Doge! Where are the Bersaglierei?
   What are the coastguards doing?« she exclaimed.
»With such a danger is there none to cope?
What's Mussolini there for, and the Pope?«

In vain did they employ the local diver
   And get the Doge to issue a decree
In which he offered anyone a fiver
   That bracelet to unearth – or to unsea!
Conscious at last that failure was complete,
They shook the spray of Venice off their feet.

This summer, Mrs Smith and cousin Mary
   Selected Westgate as a health-resort
Where bathing holds no risks for the unwary
   And shrimping is a well-protected sport,
And here they built their castles in the sand
And listened to the Borough Council Band.

One morning, on the pier where they were sitting,
   Said Mary: »What's the tune they've just encored?«
»That,« said her aunt, »is the Refrain from Spitting
   At least, it says so on the notice-board.
It's not an opera that I know well;
My favourite, of course, is William Tell

Then, as she spoke, there came the sound of cheering,
   And see! along the asphalt esplanade
A noble army from the beach appearing
   Of man and boy, of matron and of maid,
And in their midst a giant fish they bore:
»A shark,« they cried, »has just been washed ashore!«

At Mary's feet they laid the dead cetacean.*
   Her thoughts flew back to a Venetian bay
And, as they planned the beast's evisceration –
   I'll spare the lurid details, if I may –
She and her aunt exchanged a meaning glance
And prayed in secret to the god of Chance.

*: Sharks are not cetaceous. – Pub.
     This one was. – H. G.

Poor Mrs Smith's excitement rose to fever,
   And Mary too grew anxious, I confess,
As someone slit the fish up with a cleaver
   And found within its vitals – can you guess?
You're wrong, alas! They didn't find a thing
Except two buttons and a piece of string!

Yes. Providence, performing many wonders,
   May move in a mysterious way, no doubt,
Yet will not always rectify our blunders,
   As Mrs Smith and Mary have found out.
The long arm of coincidence grows weak;
The skirts of happy chance are far to seek;
And Jonah's shark was probably unique.

Keine Kommentare:

Kommentar veröffentlichen