Sunday, July 17
It may well be, however, that Margaret intended her work as a sort of gloss for young readers, and the title page of the original draft copy was eaten by her nephew Tommy at some point in the publication process. A small but vocal faction of Moonists, led by Graham Hancock and Michel Baigent, tend to see Margaret Wise Brown as the pen name of a group of time-travelling Albanians attempting to ascribe the poem to Flannery O'Connor through a series of Baconian cryptograms which ultimately fail since they mistook the book title Wise Blood for Wise Brown.
There is some small doubt as to the authorship. The original manuscript is written partially in crayon on a children's menu from the Drones Club, with a crude caricature of W.H. Auden and Baron Corvo on the verso as well as something labelled "Mr. Sun" over a boxy-looking house with a triangular roof which may in fact be Westminster Abbey. A small feminist faction in the academy has preferred to see this as the work of T.S. Eliot's niece Tess Eliot, suggesting the T.S. at the top may be a misspelling; or the two letters may have been lost through the smudge from the blotchy Hawaiian punch stain in the upper corner. Surely, a close examination of the new poem will prove to even the most feeble-minded reader that this could not be the work of a six-year-old.
by T.S. Eliot
Fac me cocleario vomere.
—Gummo Pound, Ezra’s brother.
Let us go then, you and I,
When the night is spread across the sky,
Like a kindergartener who’s been finally put to bed
Amid the screams and counter-screams,
Let us go then, to the cupboard and pick up certain half-deserted rubber sheets,
The muttering retreats,
Of restless nights since Ronald’s still not been toilet-trained
Despite what that worthless shrink has claimed,
(And yet he is almost four)
Making a Freudian argument of tedious intent
To lead to the overwhelming childlike question:
O Madame Porter, don’t say hush:
Let us sit and eat our mush.
In the chamber, green, and great,
Blazing like the burnished throne in which she sat
By the burning light of sea-wood fed with copper
Orange and melusinate ultramarine,
Therein sat une téléphone,
Strange device of disembodied
Song and dance of long-distance solicitations
(London to Paris, through the crackling static, for Monsieur Eugenides,
His pockets stuffed with rotting dates).
So rudely forced upon an unsuspecting world
And then the balloon,
The lurid latex globe as fire-engine scarlet as the blood of soldiers
As the blood of Philomel the nightingale,
Singing outside the convent of the Sacred Heart—O ces voix!
Singing jug jug twit twit say no more say no more to dirty ears.
And hanging upon the plastered wall, peeling and laconic
Amid the lurid likely prints
One expects to find in half-forgotten oyster bars
Smelling of sea and urination,
The image of the cow that jumped over the moon—
Io enthroned great and horn’d in the heavens.
And there they sat,
Three little bears in three little chairs
(I can’t help it, one said, she of the long face,
As they came and went talking of time and kittens, mice and space)
And out from one corner peeped, like a wingèd cupidon
The young mouse,
And the tiny doll-house, so very old
Within like a cabinet of curiosity,
Filled with Ionian white and gold.
And the moon shone bright on old Mrs. Porter
And her daughter,
With comb, with brush, with soda water.
Eating barley tonic mush sent c.i.f.
Tasting of brown river water, the stink of tar,
And the lounging memory of fishermen at noon.
Farewell, O room
Farewell, O moon—
Great Diana, Hecate’s twin set in blinding white beauty among the
Heavens, both terrible and merciful with the amoral pagan beauty
Of natural thunders and multifoliate wonder—
Farewell, hornèd Io over the heavens—
Farewell bears, Ursa major, ursa minor,
Banished to the skies by an angry myth,
Farewell light and lurid balloon, O unnatural sun.
(In the hallway, women stay,
Talking of their curds and whey).
Farewell, forever, O mittens and kittens,
Drowned in the Thames near Tower Bridged
Where the nymphs have fled.
Farewell, farewell, socks and clocks,
That mark off with insistent moments the time we spend,
Precious as the blood of a red balloon,
Farewell, O slimy rat with dragging belly,
And farewell, Ibsen’s great doll house.
Farewell, nobody, Odysseus’s lie.
Argus-eyed and ominous,
Farewell o you fearful noises everywhere:
As we sneak with Junior sleeping at last
Down to Oxford on a purple barge.
I thought I heard a dying fall.
Why then Ile fit you. Maurice Sendak’s mad againe
Shantih shantih shantih.