The Game’s Slave


(The thirteenth of the Black Hole Ballads)
(With apologies to Longfellow)

BESIDE the indented table he stood
His wood bat in his hand;
His face was red, his matter hair
On end did sharply stand;
And round the board, a noisy throng,
Was pressed the Senior band.

Wide through the landscape of his dreams
The game of ping-pong ran;
Beneath the gas-jets flaring dim
He’d play with any man;
And out the ball, and slice, and pull,
As only Johnnie can.

He only saw the small white ball
Upon the table roll;
And in that piece of celluloid
Reposed his very soul;
His great resolve to see one day
His name on Ping-Pong’s scroll.

And then at furious speed he played
Along the table flank;
His deadly shots were speeding true—
But with a certain swank
He played this night, in fierce delight
We longed his seat to spank.

Before him like a pawing bull
His hot opponent stood;
From shot to shot he followed the flight
When the ball had left the wood;
But never his bat to the wee ball got,
No earthly chance he stood.

That night we heard the fire roar,
And the rattling window-frame;
And all the flaring jets on high
Sent forth a fitful flame;
But he basked like an Emperor
In the triumph of his game.

July, 1927