Poem in Which We Compare Several Descriptions of that Ingenious Hidalgo of La Mancha

In a village, a certain corner, or certain village,
the name of which I cannot, no, I will not
bring to mind, there lived a man, on that
we all agree, perhaps a country gentleman.

Up in the back we colonised
the sprawling lawn length table

And in his rack, he kept a lance, and with
his lance he kept a shield, an ancient shield,
a leather shield, worm-eaten, it might even be
mistaken for a target or a buckler.

piled high the stack by shape and depth
a tilting tower between us

His horse was lean, a skinny, scrawny hack,
his coursing greyhound, starved yet swift and fast.
He dined on stew, in which the beef was more
proportionately present than the mutton.

decisions like this should not be
made hastily or lightly

On Saturdays he fed on lardy eggs.
On Saturdays he fed on griefs and groans.
On Saturdays he fed on tripe and trouble.
On Saturdays he fed on gripes and grumblings

that Saturday we sipped on pints
of frothing lager tops

occasionally a small and slender pigeon
extraordinary on a Sunday.
This took three-quarters of his income, three-
fourths of his revenue, and what remained

pored slowly through our prologues from
dulled senses not precision

went on a coat, a suit, a cape, a jerkin
or surtout, if you will, of black or puce
with velvet breeches matched with velvet slippers
to wear on holy, feasting, holidays.

the out of season rain outside
will keep us here all day

On weekdays, working days, he walked out proudly,
honouring his country, dignified,
wearing the good and honest, very finest
quality of homespun, home-spun, homespun.

we’ll still be reading when the seasons
change over again

John Canfield


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