Fair Youth Who Sports Disrobed In Snow

Fair youth who sports disrobed in snow:
Prithee, what’s thy madness? Dost know
That Winter wreaks its mischief cold
On caitiffs young alike as old?
Thy tender years shall spare thee not
Its fell regard. Art thou a sot?
By thy antics, I see that ale
Or wine hast thou imbibed; though pale
Thy body is, thy cheeks are red,
Thy lips as plump as one well-fed,
Thy nose a glaring shade of pink:
‘Tis clear thy senses, drowned with drink,
Betray thee to thy doom. Reason
Hast thou none, bold swain; the season
Grips with bleakness chill, and our days
Its wrath doth ravage. Only gaze
With eyes dismay’d betwixt thy legs:
What once was proud, now plaintive, begs
For warmth and succour. Oh, ’tis sad
To see it suffer, for ’tis clad
In nought but frost-worn woe, its hue
A healthless, weak and wilting blue.
Think, what’s more, on its fellows: those
Soft jolly orbs thy leman knows
So well―see how they are dwindled!
Can frozen joys be rekindled?
This brumal brunt they bravely bear,
But shrivelled thus beyond repair,
They’re of no use, and are defunct.
Desirest thou to be de-spunked?
Desist thy pranks; thy clothes put on,
Else, naked still, ensure th’art gone
To some more temp’rate spot and mild
Where free may’st frolic as a child.
Hie thee hence to less hiemal climes:
Away with thee; I’ve no more rhymes.


3 thoughts on “Fair Youth Who Sports Disrobed In Snow

  1. Harsh but fair.

    When we were in Seoul we noticed quite a few “holy fool” style drunks. Loudly declaiming about something, dressed like Toshiro Mifune at the beginning of Seven Samurai with hair and beards to match.

    Now that capitalism is starting to tumble off its highest peak I imagine there will be a lot more of these characters wandering the streets. The homeless in Manchester are a lot more visible than they have been for 20 years.

    The situation here reminds me of the early 80’s only there isn’t the opposition from local councils like there was back then. It’s great that Corbyn is leading the Labour party but the odds are really stacked against him especially from the rest of the PLP who are still living in the mid 90’s.

    We’ve been watching a few film-noirs recently. Sharp, to the point and a welcome antidote to all the bloated box-set friendly TV shows that are all the rage at the moment. Do you know Kiss of Death? Directed by Henry Hathaway and starring Victor Mature.

    It’s a good one, Richard Widmark is genuinely unpleasant in it ( Willem Dafoe surely based his Wild at Heart character Bobby Peru on it ) and the director creates a few scenes of real tension by not hurrying things along or using fast edits.


  2. Hi Ed. Actually, this poem has nothing to do with Korea. It’s a lightly revised version of an old Poster Poems piece; I think the theme that month was winter. As for the noisy public drunkards here, they can be entertaining/annoying but the striking thing about them is now (on the whole) non-threatening they are. Given the Korean drinking culture, there’s remarkably little drink-related violence to be seen, certainly when you compare it to weekend nights in a town or city centre in Britain.

    I have mixed feelings about Corbyn. On the one hand I admire him personally and agree with his policies; on the other, the pessimist in me can’t help but fear that it will end badly. Presentation and organization may be areas over-prioritized by the media, but Labour’s practice of them nonetheless leaves much to be desired, and I fear that John McDonnell, good egg though he is, is out of his depth. Of course it can’t be easy when you have not only almost the entirety of the media dead-set against you but also a large number of your own MPs. A split may be the only solution, but the electoral consequences of that are impossible to predict. As it stands, I don’t think Labour has a hope in hell of winning the next election, and may well lose seats. What is laughable, though, is the notion that any of the Blairite nonentities touted as leaders by the right-wing old guard would have a decent shot at winning, or even of resolving the party’s divisions. Labour’s huge problems are the result of large-scale social changes leading to a general disaffection with politics. Turnouts in recent years have been low (the last election saw a rise, but it’s hard to believe that it signals a reversal in the general trend), and this obsession with duking it out with the Tories for middle-ground, Daily Mail-friendly politics is nothing more than a skirmish among fish in a rock pool unaware that the tide is going out. I suspect that the Tories are going to face a similar collapse in support in the future. At present, they are protected by the reliable votes of older voters, but once they die off, where are the new Tories going to come from? The government’s policies are so nakedly biased towards older people, so unashamedly damaging towards the young, that the danger for the Conservatives is that an entire generation is going to grow older harbouring a grudge towards them.

    Not seen Kiss of Death. A Hathaway noir I have seen is The Dark Corner, which is good and has a fine cast. The last old Hollywood movie I watched was a classic comedy, Nothing Sacred, from 1937. Very smart and entertaining, with lots of subtle little comic bits, although the story is far from subtle. It’s the second film I’ve seen with Carole Lombard, after the wonderful My Man Godfrey, and she’s great here, as is Fredric March.


  3. Lombard is good in pretty much everything I’ve seen her in. Howard Hawks’ Twentieth Century where she plays opposite an utterly demented John Barrymore is worth seeing. I looked her up on wikipedia and was shocked to discover that she died aged 33.

    I’m pessimistic about Corbyn’s chances as well – the media coverage ( including the more liberal end ) has been really terrible but he’s still there and has landed a few blows on Cameron.

    At least there is an opposition to remind us that politics should be more polarised rather than varying shades of blue.


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