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Missed -- P G Wodehouse

This week I'll be running a series of poems by writers far better known for
their prose.
(Poem #179) Missed
 The sun in the heavens was beaming,
     The breeze bore an odour of hay,
 My flannels were spotless and gleaming,
     My heart was unclouded and gay;
 The ladies, all gaily apparelled,
     Sat round looking on at the match,
 In the tree-tops the dicky-birds carolled,
     All was peace -- till I bungled that catch.

 My attention the magic of summer
     Had lured from the game -- which was wrong.
 The bee (that inveterate hummer)
     Was droning its favourite song.
 I was tenderly dreaming of Clara
     (On her not a girl is a patch),
 When, ah, horror! there soared through the air a
     Decidedly possible catch.

 I heard in a stupor the bowler
     Emit a self-satisfied 'Ah!'
 The small boys who sat on the roller
     Set up an expectant 'Hurrah!'
 The batsman with grief from the wicket
     Himself had begun to detach --
 And I uttered a groan and turned sick. It
     Was over. I'd buttered the catch.

 O, ne'er, if I live to a million,
     Shall I feel such a terrible pang.
 From the seats on the far-off pavilion
     A loud yell of ecstasy rang.
 By the handful my hair (which is auburn)
     I tore with a wrench from my thatch,
 And my heart was seared deep with a raw burn
     At the thought that I'd foozled that catch.

 Ah, the bowler's low, querulous mutter
     Points loud, unforgettable scoff!
 Oh, give me my driver and putter!
     Henceforward my game shall be golf.
 If I'm asked to play cricket hereafter,
     I am wholly determined to scratch.
 Life's void of all pleasure and laughter;
     I bungled the easiest catch.
-- P G Wodehouse
Wodehouse, I hope, needs little introduction[1]; however he is not very well
known as a poet. And not without reason - his poetry, while beautifully
crafted, lacks a certain something. I think part of the problem is that it
is crafted; unlike some poets, Wodehouse doesn't really have the knack of
making contrived rhymes and complicated constructions work. Somewhat
surprising, actually, given the sheer unadulterated genius of his prose,
though it may very well be that the selfsame prose has led me to judge this
little piece too harshly. Still, it is a pretty enough poem, if not a
'great' one, and well worth the read.

[1] and if he does, do yourself a favour and read some of his sublime and
ridiculous novels - I recommend 'Joy in the Morning'.


 Wodehouse, Sir P.G.

 b. Oct. 15, 1881, Guildford, Surrey, Eng. d. Feb. 14, 1975, Southampton,
 N.Y., U.S.

  in full PELHAM GRENVILLE WODEHOUSE, English-born comic novelist,
  short-story writer, lyricist, and playwright, best known as the creator of
  Jeeves, the supreme "gentleman's gentleman." He wrote more than 90 books
  and more than 20 film scripts and collaborated on more than 30 plays and
  musical comedies.

  Wodehouse was educated at Dulwich College, London, and, after a period in
  a bank, took a job as a humorous columnist on the London Globe (1902) and
  wrote freelance for many other publications. After 1909 he lived and
  worked for long periods in the United States and in France. He was
  captured in France by the Germans in 1940 and spent much of the war
  interned in Berlin. In 1941 he made five radio broadcasts from there to
  the United States in which he humorously described his experiences as a
  prisoner and subtly ridiculed his captors. His use of enemy broadcasting
  facilities evoked deep and lasting resentment in Britain, however, which
  was then practically under siege by Germany. After the war Wodehouse
  settled in the United States, becoming a citizen in 1955. He was knighted
  in 1975.

  Wodehouse began by writing public-school stories and then light romances.
  It was not until 1913 (in Something New; published in England as Something
  Fresh, 1915) that he turned to the farce, which became his special
  strength. He had a scholar's command of the English sentence. He delighted
  in vivid, far-fetched imagery and in slang. His plots are highly
  complicated and carefully planned. Whatever the dates of publication of
  his books, Wodehouse's English social atmosphere is of the late Edwardian
  era. The young bachelor Bertie Wooster and his effortlessly superior
  manservant, Jeeves, were still together, their ages unadvanced, in Much
  Obliged, Jeeves (1971), though they first appeared in a story in The Man
  with Two Left Feet (1917).

        -- EB


  There's a P.G.Wodehouse appreciation page at
  <[broken link]> with a lot of other nice links
  hanging off it.

  A few more of his poems can be found at
  <[broken link]>

32 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

K.Srinivasa Rao said...

I am not a great afficiando but simply too ardent a fan of Wodehouse to
not saywhat a delighful poem this is. True ut is'nt very deep or sublime
etc but its got rhyme and paints a pretty picture. And thats whathe's
good at is'nt he..

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