Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch

(21 November 1863 – 12 May 1944 / England)

Measure For Measure

By O—r K—m.
Wake! for the closed Pavilion doors have kept
Their silence while the white-eyed Kaffir slept,
And wailed the Nightingale with 'Jug, jug, jug!'
Whereat, for empty cup, the White Rose wept.
Enter with me where yonder door hangs out
Its Red Triangle to a world of drought,
Inviting to the Palace of the Djinn,
Where Death, Aladdin, waits as Chuckerout.
Methought, last night, that one in suit of woe
Stood by the Tavern-door and whispered, 'Lo,
The Pledge departed, what avails the Cup?
Then take the Pledge and let the Wine-cup go.'
But I: 'For every thirsty soul that drains
This Anodyne of Thought its rim contains—
Free-will the can, Necessity the must,
Pour off the must, and, see, the can remains.
'Then, pot or glass, why label it 'With Care'?
Or why your Sheepskin with my Gourd compare?
Lo! here the Bar and I the only Judge:—
O, Dog that bit me, I exact an hair!'
We are the Sum of things, who jot our score
With Caesar's clay behind the Tavern door:
And Alexander's armies—where are they,
But gone to Pot—that Pot you push for more?
And this same Jug I empty, could it speak,
Might whisper that itself had been a Beak
And dealt me Fourteen Days 'without the Op.'—
Your Worship, see, my lip is on your cheek.
Yourself condemned to three score years and ten,
Say, did you judge the ways of other men?
Why, now, sir, you are hourly filled with wine,
And has the clay more licence now than then?
Life is a draught, good sir; its brevity
Gives you and me our measures, and thereby
Has docked your virtue to a tankard's span,
And left of my criterion—a Cri'!

Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010


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