1. When Galileo came to tea
  2. "A glass of milk
  3. I haven't heard the telephone since 1963
  4. I, O King, am the Welder's son, and my father now is dead!

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When Galileo came to tea
I gave him gooseberry jam, for he
Requested it so charmingly
That I could not refuse.

He sucked it from a wooden spoon
And sang aloud a doleful tune
Concerning maidens born in June
He sang a dreary blues.

He put the toast-rack on his head
Without much room to go to bed
(The hammock had been filled with lead)
It was a woeful ruse!

He put his pocket on his arm
His telescope had come to harm
(For he had lost it on the farm
Where Anne the Angus moos)

Then upon the girl he lay
And ran his fingers through the hay
And sang to her a roundelay
Of irreligious views.

She was enraptured by his skill
And scampered up the sunny hill
We watched them from the windowsill
In fours and threes and twos.

She lay exhausted by his side
And watched astonished as he cried
"Alas, my love, my lofty pride
I beg, excuse!"

Then Galileo took her home
And told her nevermore to roam
From his arching wooden dome
Mount Palomar.

"A glass of milk
A yard of ale
A skein of silk so pale
And wan, enough to sail
The seven seas

A book of prose
Of poetry
A tale of woes so free
And e's enough to see
A Fleur de Lys

A sack of tones
And semibreves
Excessive loans of leaves
That every sailor heaves
To Pharisees

A bag of jam
A garlic clove
A baby ram. He'll rove
Until the skies turn mauve
And burn the trees

A telescope
A looking glass."

The gloomy deceiver unravels
The fleeces in the clouds
The giant from Gullible's Travels
Whose head was in the shrouds
The doleful meringue-maker sings.
His hands in the mangle he wrings.
We all are as glass
And shatter when he sings.

I haven't heard the telephone since 1963
Although I have a red one in my room.
I never saw an ambulance become a bumble bee
Although I waited, patient, at its tomb.
Although I patent washers for the groom,
Who slops the horsey water over me
And bids me write the silken tomes of golden Selené
Of Babbacombe.

I always used to jump from heights of more than 60 miles
And fall into a tiny muddy pool
A parachute for octopi, the natives of these isles
Are senile, like a fornicating fool
A product of the Now-or-Never school
Who wraps his willing victim up in smiles
And lodges him feet upwards, silent head athwart the piles
Of gooseberry fool.

I always used to rise to depths hereto unknown to elves
There octopi compile a sombre chart.
O bumble bee who keep your treasure high upon these shelves
Which you from men must always keep apart
Withhold from any vacillating heart
From any peering seeker, if he delves
Among the wat'ry valuables they're keeping for themselves
Upon the cart.

A product of the never-never class
The misered men who babble but avoid
The parachute, for we are only glass
[whisper] We are only glass ...

I, O King, am the Welder's son, and my father now is dead!
See before your court I bring his ferro-concrete head!
The potion to restore him must not have excessive lead
Or he will never live again to solder, nay, and weld.
Whoso beheld
And read

The mystic tale, the wrathful curse upon my father laid,
By all the feeble Argonauts whose bills were never paid
By all the fearful Vizigoths who ever raped a maid
This curse was fatal, dire; will never be repealed
Whose fate is sealed
And slayed.

By those who wished the Welder well, by those who never knew
How dire would be the dreadful deeds that they could not undo.
They shrieked and wailed, invoked the Shark, and washed their hands in rue
For penitent repentance of their horrible mistake
Which none may make
But those who do.

And he who was so upright once that he could not be prone
And he who seemed too deaf to hear the gilded telephone
He who showed the silent maids how apples could be grown
Has vanished from the vision of the viceroy and the vole.
They called the roll.

The Welder's name was never heard, was never read therefrom
His name is not (I have forgot) nor Harry, Dick, nor Tom.
In the silence that ensued we wept with great aplomb.
The organ played, the flags were gone, there was no cause to sing:
Oh, bless me now, and I shall ply my father's trade, O King!

©1973, 1999 The Rat Fathom Poets
Edited by Peter Christian
May 31 2023.