Collegia – Ode 15: On the Broadcasting


WIRES here, wires there,
Wires everywhere.
Who rises like a sudden thought?
Why, Prinny; nervous and distraught.
O Prinny, calm!
Have no alarm!
Lift up you dome,
The time has come!

Anounce the hymn!
There; did we not sing it well?
And all the listeners will agree, I’m sure,
That nothing finer has been heard this side
The realm of angels.
And now the Prayer and Invocation!
Raise your hand
So that in accents clear and well-defined
(To cheer Jock’s soul and ease his tortured mind!)
We may resound with one last grand “Amen”.
Now have we finished the first canticle.
Upon your nasal organ place your specs –
Your bone-rimmed specs – to read the lesson out.
Read clearly, Prinny; let not your grey beard
So wont to wander o’er your childlike face,
This time to interfere with your pale lips
As I have seen it do at dinner-time
When you are taking soup!

Come, come! Articulate more clearly, please!
(As you have heard us counsel more than once,
At tea, at supper, and throughout the day).
There is the microphone. It will not bite.
‘Tis thereon placed to hear you speak aright,
So out with it, and let your hands not shake
Like autumn leaves upon the page.
That’s nice; the lesson is most aptly picked.
Yes, we are all here; all, all are here
Of the selected ones;
There is no need to peer
At us so pryingly: there’s no one gone.
They are all just as anxious, Prinny dear,
For their sweet voices to be heard,
As you are, on the radio!
There, you have finished now,
And happy as a child, I wot.
Now is our turn to rise and sing a hymn;
And thus goes by the night.
Much, much the same as when at evening prayer,
Only a certain stiffness and perfection
Is present, proving we have put
In several hours of practice hard for this,
The greatest thing to happen in the term.

Sing, sing! Let manly voices be upraised
In cordant or discordant song.
When flat, we can old Prinny blame;
When sharp, the culprit is the same!
But it is well to know we sing not for
The Prinny only (he is wont to slight
Our chanting aspirations) but for all!
Sing, Prinny, sing! Let not that quavering voice,
So of cajoling us, so oft in fretful chide,
So oft in peevish glee, be not yet stilled.
Throw back your grizzled head, devoid of locks,
But covered decently with mortar-board,
Throw it well back with open mouth; no one need know
From whose shrill pipe such wheezy rattlings flow!

20. 11. 1927