Friday, December 19, 2003

The Thady of Shalott

With sincerest and heart-felt apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

The Thady of Shalott

On either side of the slash-hook lie
The cleavèd heads of passers-by,
Who didn’t know they had to die,
For you need permission to apply
To pass the site ‘round Camelot.
The penitent man must advance and kneel
Amidst the cans and orange peel,
And humbly present his sad appeal
To the Thady of Shalott.

The smell of cider pervades the air
And fills the nostrils of all who go there;
The boys are all just back from the tear
With hangovers worse than man can bear
When they return to Camelot.
But no-one’s left to walk on a grave
Or in any other way behave
To make him think you a fool or a knave,
The Thady of Shalott.

The boys arrive at twenty to two,
The dole collected and nothing to do,
Except cider to drink and grass to chew,
As rough a bunch as stood in a shoe,
Assembled outside of Camelot.
Then he arrived on a piebald ass,
Bearing his seal, a ring of pure brass,
And he called on his legion to arise, amass!
The Thady of Shalott.

Their brows all blackened a terrible frown
When they heard what had gone on in town,
And they’d have satisfaction before the sun went down.
The buffers would remember from all parts aroun’
That crazy crew of Camelot.
He’d gone to a bar and called for a drink
The guards were called and threatened the clink;
He had to retreat and all the way home did think,
The Thady of Shalott.

The crowbars were massed and carefully sent;
The cudgels and hurleys, with nails in them bent;
The bushman saws that make such a rent;
And the slash-hooks, those weapons of fearsome intent,
Distributed all through Camelot.
Then, making the sound of a thousand tin cans,
Like the last of the wrenboys with the last of the wrens,
With their master, commander, in the first of the vans,
The Thady of Shalott.

The first man met they cracked open his head,
The second months lingered on his sick bed;
The third took one look and then fled;
The fourth ran on to warn up ahead;
Of the van of vans from Camelot.
He split to the left, and he split to right;
The screams of the battle wailed on through the night;
He’d had enough parlay, he was here to fight,
The Thady of Shalott.

It took the guards from counties four,
In a fight that lasted six days or more,
Where the bodies maimed made up three score,
To haul them away and haul them ashore,
Back to their berth in Camelot.
They passed round the flagon and spoke of the battle
How the buffers they ran as if they were cattle;
Stranger, if you see him, be sure to skedattle,
From the Thady of Shalott.