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James Kenneth Stephen (1859-1892)

4th July, 1882, Malines. Midnight


              1Belgian, with cumbrous tread and iron boots,
              2Who in the murky middle of the night,
              3Designing to renew the foul pursuits
              4In which thy life is passed, ill-favoured wight,
              5And wishing on the platform to alight
              6Where thou couldst mingle with thy fellow brutes,
              7Didst walk the carriage floor (a leprous sight),
              8As o'er the sky some baleful meteor shoots:
              9Upon my slippered foot thou didst descend,
            10Didst rouse me from my slumbers mad with pain,
            11And laughedst loud for several minutes' space.
            12Oh may'st thou suffer tortures without end:
            13May fiends with glowing pincers rend thy brain,
            14And beetles batten on thy blackened face!

Notes

1] Title: Malines is Mechlin, Belgium. An unknown Belgian, at midnight getting off the train onto a railway platform to chum with his buddies, appears to have stepped on the maddened poet's foot in a rush to leave the car.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: J. K. Stephen, Lapsus Calami, new edn. (Cambridge: Macmillan and Bowes, 1891), p. 36. PR 5473 S4L3 1891 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1891
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/14

Form: sonnet
Rhyme: ababababefgefg


Other poems by James Kenneth Stephen