Denis Florence MacCarthy
All Fool’s Day - Poem by Denis Florence MacCarthy
The Sun called a beautiful Beam, that was playing
At the door of his golden-wall'd palace on high;
And he bade him be off, without any delaying,
To a fast-fleeting Cloud on the verge of the sky:
'You will give him this letter,' said roguish Apollo
(While a sly little twinkle contracted his eye),
With my royal regards; and be sure that you follow
Whatsoever his Highness may send in reply.'
The Beam heard the order, but being no novice,
Took it coolly, of course-nor in this was he wrong-
But was forced (being a clerk in Apollo's post-office)
To declare (what a bounce!) that he wouldn't be long;
So he went home and dress'd-gave his beard an elision-
Put his scarlet coat on, nicely edged with gold lace;
And thus being equipped, with a postman's precision,
He prepared to set out on his nebulous race.
Off he posted at last, but just outside the portals
He lit on earth's high-soaring bird in the dark;
So he tarried a little, like many frail mortals,
Who, when sent on an errand, first go on a lark;
But he broke from the bird-reach'd the cloud in a minute-
Gave the letter and all, as Apollo ordained;
But the Sun's correspondent, on looking within it,
Found, 'Send the fool farther,' was all it contained.
The Cloud, who was up to all mystification,
Quite a humorist, saw the intent of the Sun;
And was ever too airy-though lofty his station-
To spoil the least taste of the prospect of fun;
So he hemm'd, and he haw'd-took a roll of pure vapour,
Which the light from the beam made as bright as could be,
(Like a sheet of the whitest cream golden-edg'd paper),
And wrote a few words, superscribed, 'To the Sea.'
'My dear Beam,' or 'dear Ray' (t'was thus coolly he hailed him),
'Pray take down to Neptune this letter from me,
For the person you seek-though I lately regaled him-
Now tries a new airing, and dwells by the sea.'
So our Mercury hastened away through the ether,
The bright face of Thetis to gladden and greet;
And he plunged in the water a few feet beneath her,
Just to get a sly peep at her beautiful feet.
To Neptune the letter was brought for inspection-
But the god, though a deep one, was still rather green;
So he took a few moments of steady reflection,
Ere he wholly made out what the missive could mean:
But the date (it was 'April the first') came to save it
From all fear of mistake; so he took pen in hand,
And, transcribing the cruel entreaty, he gave it
To our travel-tired friend, and said, 'Bring it to Land.'
To Land went the Sunbeam, which scarcely received it,
When it sent it, post-haste, back again to the sea;
The Sea's hypocritical calmness deceived it,
And sent it once more to the Land on the lea;-
From the Land to the Lake-from the Lakes to the Fountains-
From the Fountains and Streams to the Hills' azure crest,
'Till, at last, a tall Peak on the top of the mountains,
Sent it back to the Cloud in the now golden west.
He saw the whole trick by the way he was greeted
By the Sun's laughing face, which all purple appears;
Then, amused, yet annoyed at the way he was treated,
He first laughed at the joke, and then burst into tears.
It is thus that this day of mistakes and surprises,
When fools write on foolscap, and wear it the while,
This gay saturnalia for ever arises
'Mid the showers and the sunshine, the tear and the smile.
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