I Wish You a Wave of the Sea

July 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Fretting my heart as you pedal your bicycle,
Perdita, once I called, Perdita, twice I called.
Pretty as paint and as cool as an icicle,
  Perdita Simmons!

Shall I tell how we met under fortunate auspices?
Presuming a bottle of Spanish Don Horsepiss is
Fortunate… This is not one of my coarse pieces,
  Perdita Simmons.

Syllables shimmy as sonnets assemble
Themselves in a shadowless summer a-tremble —
A ten-guinea ticket for Merton Commem Ball
  With Perdita Simmons.

Daddy’s a saurian Cambridge historian.
Mummy’s more chummy. She’s tweedy and Tory and
Hunts and what-have-you. So very Victorian
  Is Perdita Simmons.

Thus Mainwaring, tall dark and rich, with a glance as much
As to say, My dear boy, I don’t fancy your chances much
I know Perdie of old, and she doesn’t like dances much,
  Doesn’t Perdita Simmons.

Perdita’s hair ruffles fairer and tanglier,
Perdita’s grin makes my ganglia janglia,
Perdita’s uncle owns half of East Anglia,
  All for Perdita Simmons.

Mainwaring’s plan is for getting a leg over;
Wait till she’s plastered (the bastard!), then beg of her.
No go. (Ho-ho!) Now his face has got egg over.
  From Perdita Simmons.

Oh, how spiffing! (She talks like a school-story serial,
While my lexical style is down-market and beery.) All
Love is insane and remote and ethereal
  And Perdita Simmons.

As we’re pounding the ground in a last hokey-cokey, dawn
Fingers to constables, hauling of chokey-borne
Mainwaring, pissed as a rat on the croquet lawn.
  Sweet Perdita Simmons.

Half-asleep, climbing from Headington Hill, at the crest of it
Sickle moon, scatter of stars and the rest of it,
In my hand one small hand (and this is the best of it)
  Of Perdita Simmons.

Perdita murmurs, You’ll do for a poet.
And kisses me carefully twice, just to show it.
Nobody knows what love is. But I know it.
  It’s Perdita Simmons.

– John Whitworth

Pretty Perdita thwomps menacing Mainwaring with an egg, dances until dawn, then gets whisked away by a poet-narrator who decorates his tale with triple rhymes and a meter that is very much like a wave of the sea. The three characters may have their own love triangle, but my favorite ménage à trois is the trifecta of auspices, Horsepiss is and coarse pieces from a poem stuffed with inventive rhymes.

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