Collegia – Ode 17: The Last Post


(Apologies to Browning)

AT the midnight in the silence of the sleep-time,
When I stick the stamp with glee;
Will the post have gone by now, or is the postman late?
Has he gone who now so troubled me, or will he
Pity me?

Oh, to go so, to be so clad in thin pyjamas!
What had I on earth to do?
Slip down the stairs in slippers, cross the quadrangle,
Like spectre, silent, hopeful, shall I go,
Lying low?

One who never turns his back, but hurries onward,
On before the dawn will break;
Down the stone stairs and landings, o’er the front quadrangle,
Tripping almost to fall, and baffled to go quicker,
Whilst awake!

Lo, box is empty; postman’s been and gone away.
Greet the unknown with a curse!
Backward return, head on the breast in dejection,
No money now until the week is past and gone –
An empty purse!

25. 11. 1927