The Tailor’s Third Ummatic Engagement

(Life as operetta. A member of Gilbert’s College? By the banks of the Thames, do I receive that Northern Crowning, finally, after these 5 years of leasehold? In it for the admiration? Surely not arbitrary admiration! But yes, I freely admit in soliloquy, I write it all down for the ladies — my Doctrine to the ladies! — but in particular, for the milk maid, my love of loves, my evasive maid who enters the operetta claiming to know no love, whose name is Patience. She finds love through the martyrdom — to “common-place” middle class life! — of her poet husband.)

Am I alone,
And unobserved? I am!

Then let me own
I’m an aesthetic sham!

This air severe
Is but a mere

This cynic smile
Is but a wile
Of guile!

This costume chaste
Is but good taste

Let me confess!

A languid love for lilies does not blight me!
Lank limbs and haggard cheeks do not delight me!
I do not care for dirty greens
By any means.

I do not long for all one sees
That’s Japanese.
I am not fond of uttering platitudes
In stained-glass attitudes.
In short, my mediaevalism’s affectation,
Born of a morbid love of admiration!

If you’re anxious for to shine in the high aesthetic line
as a man of culture rare,
You must get up all the germs of the transcendental terms,
and plant them ev’rywhere.
You must lie upon the daisies and discourse in novel phrases
of your complicated state of mind,
The meaning doesn’t matter if it’s only idle chatter
of a transcendental kind.

And ev’ry one will say,
As you walk your mystic way,
“If this young man expresses himself in terms too deep for me,
Why, what a very singularly deep young man
this deep young man must be!”

Henry Lytton as Bunthorne (1919-20)
Click on picture to enlarge

Be eloquent in praise of the very dull old days
which have long since passed away,
And convince ’em, if you can, that the reign of good Queen Anne
was Culture’s palmiest day.
Of course you will pooh-pooh whatever’s fresh and new,
and declare it’s crude and mean,
For Art stopped short in the cultivated court of the Empress Josephine.

And ev’ryone will say,
As you walk your mystic way,
“If that’s not good enough for him which is good enough for me,
Why, what a very cultivated kind of youth this kind of youth must be!”

John Reed as Bunthorne (1966)
Click on picture to enlarge
Then a sentimental passion of a vegetable fashion
must excite your languid spleen,
An attachment a la Plato for a bashful young potato,
or a not- too-French French bean!
Though the Philistines may jostle, you will rank as an apostle
in the high aesthetic band,
If you walk down Piccadilly with a poppy or a lily
in your medieval hand.

And ev’ryone will say,
As you walk your flow’ry way,
“If he’s content with a vegetable love which would certainly not suit me,
Why, what a most particularly pure young man
this pure young man must be!”


One thought on “The Tailor’s Third Ummatic Engagement

  1. Loved it — does that mean I pass the philistine test! Reminds me of Sufi theosophic ecstatic poetry whose double-entendres elicited the most virulent attacks of the exoteric scholars.

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