Collegia – Ode 89: English Notes


This morning we have more
More vapour from the Jackass we adore,
The subject Francis Bacon.
He tells us in a hushed voice,
And with a diction very choice
What a great figure
He was, but when he loomed bigger
In public life he was forsaken.
Oh, up and down, and down and up,
The little black moustache
That could do nothing rash
Rises and falls, as if it stroked a cup.

Rain is falling, is falling outside;
One looks though the window as thro’ a veil,
A curtain of water long and wide
The gutter of the Cloisters roof
Is full of the stuff,
Loaded with bubbles hemispherical.
The heap of firewood in the quad
By Pop’s garage
Welcomes the barrage,
And greedily drinks up each slanting rod
As greedily as we drink in
The words of wisdom vast
That Jackie has amassed
And now are dribbling from his shaven chin.

It is so dark beyond the pane,
So gloomy with the clouds of rain,
That I can see, and see right plain,
The clear-cut image of the face,
The pale pale face
Below the lamp,
Bearing the unmistakable stamp
Of our esteemed, revered and lovely Jackass,
Heard dimly and seen vaguely though a glass.

A chimney tall I now see darkly loom,
Tall and much darker than the gloom,
It looks like Jackass, black as crepe,
It has his undulating shape.
Smoke emanates
Above the slates,
But it is beaten down by the wind’s broom.
How wish I, with the fervency
Of ennui,
That I could beat, as beats the wind the smoke
That rises from the lips of tutor Jack
Back, back, back
Into that orifice of rosebud petulance,
That never knew the bulge of flatulence;
Back, back, back,
How I watch with fixed hypnotic stare
That line of hirsute black,
That line of careful hair.
He pours forth words that rise and fly
Beyond the room,
Beyond the gloom,
Beyond the tomb,
And I sit watching, listening, wondering why,
As others do nearby.

20. 11. 30