Stuart Armor

My Postilion Has Been Struck By Lightning, - Poem by Stuart Armor

August 30,1916 The British magazine Punch includes this item: 'An officer serving in the Balkans writes to say that he has just come across a Hungarian - English phrase - book which starts with the useful phrase, 'My postilion has been struck by lightning.' There have been thousands of subsequent mentions of this phrase in different phrasebooks in many languages. No one has yet to produce such a phrasebook, but many have apparently seen them.

My postilion has been struck by lightning,
and not only was it very frightening,
but now I am quite frustrated
because my grief can not be fully stated.
I'm not actually all obtuse,
but I can not say it a la Russe.
My postilion has been blown up from his toes to his cranium,
but I can't tell that to a Ukrainian.
There are no deposits in my linguistic bank,
so I can't, in French, be completely frank.
I've not a single noun or verb
that helps me share the news with any Serb.
I'm in distress, and I sulk on
the lack of dialogue with a Balkan.
My postilion was brave and noble,
yet there's no conveying that in Prague or Chernobyl.
If I had some reference or lexicon,
I could share my sorrow with a Mexican,
however, the news about my favorite postilion
remains a secret for a Basque or a Castilian.
If only I had some phrasebook for translation,
I could speak about my late postilion to anyone of any nation.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, December 22, 2011

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