Collegia – Ode 81: The Portrayal of the Hideous Idol of Dunsany


(With apologies to C. Wolfe)

Not a ‘hem’ was heard, not a clearing throat
As its course the tense drama did follow;
Not a member got up to reach for his coat
From his seat with a laugh dry and hollow.

We acted it starkly on Saturday night,
The words with sincerity turning;
By the well-dimmed footlights’ eerie light
And the spotlight redly burning.

No ticklish coughing disturbed a breast,
Not a yawn or a snore to confound us;
But we played like veterans giving their best
With grim tension all around us.

Few and short were the things we said,
And we spake not a word too many;
And we steadfastly played till three priests were dead,
As intended by Lord Dunsany.

We thought, as we acted the sailors’ part,
Making merry with Teffy’s succeeding,
We had the right atmosphere, held from the start,
The audience gripped, closely heeding.

Lightly we talked till the Idol Itself
Entered slowly to regain its lost jewel.
The tension was static, the sailors their pelf
Were to lost in a manner most cruel.

Just half of its heavy task was o’er
And the Idol was slowly retiring,
When it tripped on the carpet beside the door,
And fell with a crash like guns firing.

Quickly and loudly the laughter arose,
And the words that we muttered were gory.
The curtain came down and we sought our repose,
And we left him alone in his glory.

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