I Think That I Shall Never See…


A poem lovely as a Pharisee…

Hang on, that can’t be right. Let me check my notes.

No, here it is. Clear as a cow horn. Pharisee.  But Wiki says they were members of an ancient Jewish sect who were very strict and had superior sanctity. Can’t see how that would…oh, wait…the next line is applicable to modern-day; it says that the term refers to a self-righteous or hypocritical person. Well, that’s OK. Now we’re on track. Now the poem is fine. Pharisees are indeed lovelier than poetry. I know – I have been looking over the books of poetry in the secondhand bookstore recently.

I didn’t go there for poetry initially – I went to see if they had any P.G. Wodehouse books in. I gave away a seven-volume set of them once and have regretted it ever since – they were a textbook of instruction for etiquette that Emily Post cannot touch. If I ever wanted to know what to do in any social situation, I would consult Jeeves or one of his colleagues. Indeed, if ever I win Lotto I will resist all temptation to spend money on motor cars or yachts and instead will invest in a good manservant. It will not make a gentleman of me, but it will make being boorish bearable.

Back to the bookstore. No Wodehouse right now. No Dashiell Hammett. No Kinky Friedmann. No Ernst Jünger or Anthony Trollope. No naked girl books. It was a desert of paper and I was driven by the hot wind to the poetry section.

Now I like a good poet normally. Ogden Nash. Ulysses S. Grant. Benjamin Disraeli. Something you can get your teeth into, or if you are in the dental trade, someone else’s. But I made the mistake of picking up a modern poet’s work. I cannot say who it was because they appear to still be alive and may have lawyers, but it only took two pages of the book to bring me to the sort of despair that generally drives people to win Medals of Honour. Quite frankly, there would have been no human fate worse than continuing to read that poetry.

I put it back on the shelf and gave the man in the bookshop a small smile. He looked at the title and he knew. He knew. He knew what was on that shelf.

Come to think about it, I think the poem was written by a Pharisee. Probably to punish us for our sins. After reading it I think I am in the negative sin column and can go out and lust or covet or murder a bit to bring things back into balance.


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