de Profundis

A Ballad of Bitternesse

School Order All cooking is absolutely
forbidden in studies henceforth, except
in Prefects' Studies. April 1881. Signed ------

The cup is devoid of its coffee, 
  The spoon of its sugary load,
The table-cloth guiltless of toffee, 
  And sorrow has seized our abode.
Our tasks they are dry as the sea-sands, 
  Our throats they are drier than these, 
No cocoa has moistened our weasands.
  We taste not of teas.

We, once that were bloated with brewing, 
  We, once that were broad of the beam,
Are utterly changed and eschewing 
  All pleasures of junket and cream.
We, once that awakened in sorrow, 
  In heaviness, nausea, and night,
Sleep calm through the dark to the morrow, 
  Through silence to light. 

There be pleasures men take for their pleasing, 
  The pleasures of reading and rhyme,
That the soul may have comfort and easing, 
  And solace and rest for a time.
There be pleasures of palette and painting, 
  The pleasures of limb and of length, 
Where our spirits stay wearied and fainting
  And lacking in strength.

Let them revel in what they require,
  Let them feast upon Beauty and bend 
To its passion, its pathos, and fire,
  And follow it up to the end.
Our spirits are simple and placid, 
  With principle porcine endued,­
Be it sweetened, or mucous, or acid, 
  Our fetish is Food.

The taste on the tongue though it cloyeth, 
  The silence unbroken and still,
When the spirit quiescent enjoyeth 
  The acidulous down-reaching thrill;
The Joy of the Jaw in its motion, 
  The Tooth as it teareth in twain ,
These be Gods and they have our devotion
  In pleasure or pain.

The Jampot, the Ginger, the Jelly, 
  Meat mortared, enticing in tins,
They are brought as a boon to the Belly, 
  What time our instruction begins,
Oleaginous, cramped and confined, 
  Sardines as they shimmer in oil,
In the quarter for lunch are designed 
  As guerdon of toil.

And therefore this change is a trouble, 
  A trouble and wasting of much,
When the kettle hath ceased from its bubble, 
  And saucepans are useless as such.
Our tin-ware is turned to derision, 
  Our gas-stoves lie grimy and grim.
Our lights like the lights of a vision 
  Burn bluely and dim.

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