A Tale of Yesterday’s
Ten Thousand Years

Oh! come along ye tuneful 'spins',  Melpomene & Co., 
And help to twang this poet's lyre and draw his long, long bow, 
While he retails a 'corker' of ten thousand years ago!

Ten times ten weary centuries ago
(The world runs round in circles) from below 
We came to Simla. Same old game you know!

And I was I, and You were You, and They
Were They, and We were We, and pay was pay; 
And Hearts were trumps, as at the present day.

Ten times ten wicked centuries gone by 
One Hakim  Khan, astrologer, nati-
vity, and fortune-teller, came to my

Hotel with leaden dice; and broke my peace 
With prophecies of Marriage and Decease, 
And Wealth and Wisdom—all for five rupees.

Quoth he:—'Four months from now ('twas April then) 
Oh Sahib! esteem yourself most blessed of men,
At Goldsteen's  khotee when the clock strikes ten.

When—here he paused, and murmured,—'Who am I? 
Oh Sahib! to force the hand of Destiny?
Look for the maiden with the azure tie.'

I answered:—'Hakim, this is fraud confest: 
I know no maiden epicenely dressed.
Fly Hakim'—and he fled ...For it was best.

Three months rolled on—ten thousand years ago—
 I loved (how passionately none can know)
And went to 'Goldsteen's' when the moon was low.

In the verandah, as the clock struck ten
(The dance had barely started), blessed of men
Was I, oh worthy Hakim! Edith Venn

(That was her name ten times ten centuries
Ago) bare on her breast, to my surprise,
A three-inch riband azure as her eyes.

We married. Then I asked her—'Was it fate?' 
She told me Hakim Khan had bade her wait 
In April for a man with sword-scarred pate.

'Wear then this riband.'  On her breast she wore— 
We met at 'Goldsteen's'—married—for  a score
Of years she lived. Then died. I lived ten more.

Died also. Died the Hakim. Died all men.
The world spun round. My old wife, Edith Venn, 
I wait at 'Goldsteen's' when the clock strikes ten

Tonight .... the riband on her breast ... and she
May haply, at that hour remember me ... 
At all events, I'll 'pop'  to her and see.

Choose another poem