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If

By John Morris - with kind

permission of Rudyard Kipling

If you believe Jehovah really listens
And often helps us when we pray to Him for rain,
If you believe with dear Mother Theresa
That suffering ennobles those in pain,
If you accept the Vatican’s strict doctrine
Of Il Papa’s infallibility
Tho’ He tells Africans that use of condoms
Will lead to killer AIDS’ ubiquity!
If euthanasia is to you anathema
And you’d deny it my suffering friend, Although each day she’s racked with great pain
And wishes for her agony to end.
If you admire misogynistic St Paul
Who said, “In church women should silent be”
And if you are opposed to all abortion
Thus violating womens’ liberty.
If you oppose all research into stem cells,
Saying you know such work offends the Lord,
If you pooh-pooh the truth of evolution,
And deem Charles Darwin an impious fraud.
If you assert that earth, our ancient planet,
Is just six thousand years of age – by Gosh!
If you maintain that Church schools should be funded
To teach belief in such preposterous bosh.
And if you shout in front of little children,
“Sinners repent, for Armageddon’s nigh,
And only Born-Agains will go to Heaven
While the wicked, left behind, in flames will fry”
If you hold some of the views that I have listed
And yet believe your God both wise and kind,
Friend, I find it most hard to respect your faith,
And, I’m sorry, but I can’t admire your mind.

---------------------------------------------

I wrote this parody of John Keats after listening to a ponderous VE advocate droning on about a method of exiting thisl ife by use of a helium container.

Ode to a Nightingale

A wondrous bird, perched on my balcony,
Sang such a sad sweet song so plaintively,
That I resolved to end my life of care
While overwhelmed with beauty sans compare
.

And so – you may consider this absurd -
I whispered to that most melodious bird,
"I’ll fade away, dissolve and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
Here where we sit and hear each other groan,
And cancer lurks to strike us, one by one.
Dear bird, please listen; aye, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful death

Call'd him soft names in many a a musèd rhyme.
Now more than ever seems it rich to die
To cease upon the midnight with no pain.
"

So to my helium tank I now do fly
And turn the knobs once, twice, then yet again.
Now one last twist of nozzle will ensure
That I shall sweetly sleep for ever more.
Damn! Bugger it! Oh what a schmozzle!
My finger’s weak. Can’t turn the bloody nozzle!

-----

In my early 80s, for three years I was plagued by PMR (polymyalgia rheumatica). At this time, I re-read Marvell's To His Coy Mistress. Would Marvell, I wondered, have written a second poem to the lady if he had copped PMR?

Here is the original, followed by my parody.

To His Coy Mistress

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, Lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song: then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapt power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

 

To his now far-from-coy mistress

Gladly, my love, with you I’d twine
But PMR bids me decline.
So please, dear girl, make no sweet moan.
For, damn it, I’m on cortisone
And must say no to sexual frolic.
The drug hath made me melancholic.
My loins do throb, dear heart, it's true.
But not because I lust for you.
My love, I cannot play the rake.
For – Of my God! – how I do ache
In shoulders, ankles, loins and arms.
Not even Aphrodite’s charms
Could lure me into sexual tussles
I’m just a mass of heaving muscles.
And tearing pleasures with rough strife
With you, my sweet, could end my life.
Yes just one good old pelvic thrust
Could be my end, lust unto dust
So, pas ce soir, chère Josephine.

But two years hence, if you’re still keen
And PMR has gone away
We’ll sport like amorous birds of prey
Unless, by then, the vile BIG C,
Has not got its fangs in me,
Or like so many poor old timers
I’ve fallen victim to Alzheimers

------

Hotheads of Australia

(I wrote this after Greece's objection to Macedonia’s claim to its name had repercussions in Australia)

Hotheads of Australia
Cooves and coots and blokes
Cool yer bloody tempers
Shed your ethnic jokes.
Read yer C.J. Dennis
Learn some bloody sense
Learn the bloody art
Of mutual tolerance.
To chuck bombs
Because of what yer called
It is in-bloody-sane!
Remember bloody Romeo.
What’s in a bloody name?
Don’t talk of Alexander!
Alex the bloody great.
He died not bloody yesterday
He died in B.C. mate!

Good on ya. Watch yer footie!
But take no bloody flags!
Flag waving’s bloody bonkers.
They’re only bloody rags.
Be like our micks and proddies
Here most get on real well.
While back in the old country
Their feuds cause bloody hell

And pollies of Australia
Show some bloody sense
To fan the flames to win votes.
Is very bloody dense.
Let other bloody nations
Have bloody racial strife.
Let’s make Oz an oasis
Let’s all be mates – for life

---------------------

I Do Not Like Thee Doctor Fell

I do not like thee, Doctor Fell
The reason is, you charge like hell.

(Later partial retraction)

Hey, Doctor Fell, I’ve been a cad.
In retrospect, you’re not too bad.
Quite recently I’ve been to law.
The lawyers fleeced me even more!

-----

They’re changing guards at Buckingham Palace
Christopher Robin went down with Alice
They saw a guardsman looking quite twee
He’s the friend of a prominent Tory MP

They looked for the Queen but she never came
‘Bloody royals! They’re all the same’, said Alice

-----

Of all the plagues, good Heaven, thy wrath can send
Oh save me, save me from the candid friend.
And save me, too, from vile loquacious kin
Who phone me late, or when I'm sleeping in.

--------------

Kubla Khan Update

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree
It’s now a theme park wherein lies
A McDonalds and a KFC
.

-------------

Ozymandias Update


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said, "A Foster's now would go down grand!"

--------------

An Errant Drone

After reading reports of Afghan civilians killed by American drones, I wrote this:

An errant drone in Afghanistan
Killed the three kids of poor Hamid Khan.
Its controller, Hank Sutton,
Who'd pressed the wrong button,
Said, "It's jest not ma day, Godarn!"   

 ------------

To Father Peter J. Ireland

In 1999, Riverview, aka St Ignatius (a Jesuit private school in Sydney), organised 'prayer sponsors' for their pupils during the Higher School Certificate matriculation exams. When the results were published the St Ignatius deputy head of curriculum, Peter J. Ireland, was so pleased with the school's performance that he wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald saying that ' more than 1,300 students of Riverview know the great value of prayer'. This was at the time of the Rwandan genocide. I wrote:

The recent conduct of your God
Does seem to me extremely odd.
"Dear Lord, please ease Rwanda's pain"
Millions have prayed, but prayed in vain.
For many little children there
Are orphaned, sick and in despair.
But so you tell us - Goodness Gracious!
He helps the rich swots of St. Ignatius.

------------

Parody of Newbolt's Vitaï Lampada



Sir Henry Newbolt (1862-1938) was a poet who championed the virtues of chivalry and sportsmanship combined in the service of the British Empire.

There's a breathless hush in the Close tonight,
Ten to want and the match to win!
As I stride to the wicket I think of the words
My captain whispered ere I went in
"Old boy, you'll get your ribbon coat,
And fifty quid and much champagne
If only you get out first ball.
You see, old chap, I've fixed the game."

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