the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

poetry: revisiting the romantic greats

Posted by rigorousm on February 5, 2012

 So there stood Matthew Arnold and this girl
 With the cliffs of England crumbling away behind them,
 And he said to her, 'Try to be true to me,
 And I'll do the same for you, for things are bad
 All over, etc., etc.'
 Well now, I knew this girl. It's true she had read
 Sophocles in a fairly good translation
 And caught that bitter allusion to the sea,
 But all the time he was talking she had in mind
 The notion of what his whiskers would feel like
 On the back of her neck. She told me later on
 That after a while she got to looking out
 At the lights across the channel, and really felt sad,
 Thinking of all the wine and enormous beds
 And blandishments in French and the perfumes.
 And then she got really angry. To have been brought
 All the way down from London , and then be addressed
 As a sort of mournful cosmic last resort
 Is really tough on a girl, and she was pretty.
 Anyway, she watched him pace the room
 And finger his watch-chain and seem to sweat a bit,
 And then she said one or two unprintable things.
 But you mustn't judge her by that. What I mean to say is,
 She's really all right. I still see her once in a while
 And she always treats me right. We have a drink
 And I give her a good time, and perhaps it's a year
 Before I see her again, but there she is,
 Running to fat, but dependable as they come.
 And sometimes I bring her a bottle of Nuit d' Amour.

— The Dover Bitch, Anthony Hecht


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