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Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch

(21 November 1863 – 12 May 1944 / England)

De Tea Fabula


Do I sleep? Do I dream?
Am I hoaxed by a scout?
Are things what they seem,
Or is Sophists about?
Is our 'to ti en einai' a failure, or is Robert Browning played
out?
Which expressions like these
May be fairly applied
By a party who sees
A Society skied
Upon tea that the Warden of Keble had biled with legitimate
pride.
'Twas November the third,
And I says to Bill Nye,
'Which it's true what I've heard:
If you're, so to speak, fly,
There's a chance of some tea and cheap culture, the sort
recommended as High.'
Which I mentioned its name,
And he ups and remarks:
'If dress-coats is the game
And pow-wow in the Parks,
Then I 'm nuts on Sordello and Hohenstiel-Schwangau and similar
Snarks.'
Now the pride of Bill Nye
Cannot well be express'd;
For he wore a white tie
And a cut-away vest:
Says I, 'Solomon's lilies ain't in it, and they was reputed well
dress'd.'
But not far did we wend,
When we saw Pippa pass
On the arm of a friend
—Doctor Furnivall 'twas,
And he wore in his hat two half-tickets for London, return,
second-class.
'Well,' I thought, 'this is odd.'
But we came pretty quick
To a sort of a quad
That was all of red brick,
And I says to the porter,—'R. Browning: free passes; and kindly
look slick.'
But says he, dripping tears
In his check handkerchief,
'That symposium's career's
Been regrettably brief,
For it went all its pile upon crumpets and busted on
gunpowder-leaf!'
Then we tucked up the sleeves
Of our shirts (that were biled),
Which the reader perceives
That our feelings were riled,
And we went for that man till his mother had doubted the traits
of her child.
Which emotions like these
Must be freely indulged
By a party who sees
A Society bulged
On a reef the existence of which its prospectus had never
divulged.
But I ask,—Do I dream?
Has it gone up the spout?
Are things what they seem,
Or is Sophists about?
Is our 'to ti en einai' a failure, or is Robert Browning played
out?

Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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