The Market-Place
or 'Jeremiah, Jeremiah'


The Bantu Babe
Π Rex Esq

  1. Had the parson's nose been longer,
  2. The drivers of cars who wear hats on their heads
  3. Let time and tide for no man wait, for no man but for me,

Listen to reading

Had the parson's nose been longer,
Had he followed his instructions
Then the terrible destructions
Of the Bishopric of Tonga
Would never have occurred.

Had the parson used his potion,
Had his wife been twice as pretty,
Had their house been in the city
Rather than the mighty ocean
Noone would have stirred.

But the parson was a madman,
Quite convinced his nose would dwindle,
So thereto he fixed a spindle
Recommended by the ad-man,
A Catalonian Kurd.

On the spindle hung a bottle,
A quarter-full of gooseberry brandy.
(This was just to keep it handy.)
A favourite of Aristotle
Brewed it, so I've heard.

Had Aristotle been a parson,
Had he grown his nose correctly
(Instructed by his wife, hen-peckedly),
Followed everything minutely,
Watched the Bishopric astutely,
Shunned the craft of Arson
Then he would not have erred.

The drivers of cars who wear hats on their heads
Are a scurrilous breed who veer to the right of the road.
And to those who esteem them I cry:
"Your cars are not beds,
Though your somnolence seems to show you're ignoring the Code.
For this you should die."

And though they reply with some Biblical phrase,
Culled from the Psalms or the seventeenth chapter of Job,
I shall silence their wrath with a curse:
"Your cars shall not laze,
Though experience seems to show that your ears lack a lobe
And your pocket a purse."

But however defective their bodies may be,
There can be not a doubt that each one is a mischievous rogue
Who embezzled the funds of the king
While drinking his tea,
Though analysis seems to show (in a broad Highland Brogue)
That they know not a thing.

Being burglars and living in Leamington Spa,
Where the blackest of shields may be seen by the light of the moon,
They knew every inch of the palace,
Where they travelled by car,
Though statistics appear to show they had hats on too soon,
For such is their malice.

And thusly disguised, with the funds in their grasp,
They travel the roads of the world from the east to the west.
And to those who decry them I deem:
"All people should clasp
What intuitive thought seems to show is the biggest and best --
For such is my dream."

Let time and tide for no man wait, for no man but for me,
For me whom mighty Jove ordained should hold in thrall the sea,
For me and my companions whom at random now I choose.
Let all of nature wait for us, for there's no time to lose.
Our wooden elk is built and tried, our armour's newly plated.
The table's laid, the kettle's boiled and all the cheese is grated.
But though the fruits are peeled and dried, a heroine we lack.
I'll send my friend to look for one, for he's a maniac.
Five years have passed, six weary weeks, since those last lines were wrote,
And in that time I've made for me a large elastic boat
With rubber on the tiller and a lovely springy keel.
I hope therewith to go to sea and catch a lengthy eel.
But wait! They shriek from perchy crags, "Our heroine is come!"
For her I'll bake a loaf of bread and finish every crumb,
For her I'll kill the fattened calf or swat the favourite cat.
But wait! What are the earnest fiends intently looking at?
The planet yawns, the seas roll back, and peeping through the crust,
The eye that every Muslim fears gazed out with mighty lust.
Gazed? No, it blazed, and roved the scene, combustible and dry.
It ploughed the hills and scoured the rills and bent the woods awry
And left behind a cindered orb, an incandescent sky.

Let time and tide for no man wait, the eye has risen now
On us who hoped to tame the things that time has taught us how
Or master the complexities of large elastic craft,
On us, the hopeless arrogant, at whom the Muslim laughed,
On all that Buddha e'er betrayed, on all that Krishna saw,
Who knew the wonted order but forgot the wanted Law.
Thusly let the cycles pass within their ordained paths,
A chain of sordid pilgrims filing through the greasy baths,
Gazing reverently at bones, the which (or so it's said)
Are we, who were so lively once that we could not be dead.

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