Home-Thoughts from Abroad

There are some great poems that instill in me the perverse impulse to produce my own, slightly deviant, version.  Robert Browning’s “Home-thoughts, from Abroad” is one such.  It’s not an attempt to make fun of the original, in any way.  So I don’t see my versions as parodies, more as affectionate pastiches.

Robert Browning

Home Thoughts, from Abroad

O, TO be in England
Now that April ‘s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossom’d pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray’s edge—
That ‘s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

And my version:

Pub-Thoughts, from a Reluctant Abstainer:

Oh, to be in a pub,
now that it’s opening-time.
Enticing aromas of homely grub,
first hit of chilled vodka and lime.
Cornish Pasty?  Or Steak Pie and Chips?
Tankards are raised to glistening lips.
While the trembling priest breaks his latest vow.
In a pub — now!

And later, in the warm, companionable fug,
see friend and foe re-united, in a hug.
A muttered request, for double measure of gin,
goes unheeded, amid the boisterous din.
That’s the ageing alkie; he drinks ever-faster,
on a futile quest.  He can never recapture
the long-lost haze of golden rapture.
The pinched looks, tense glares and worried frowns
mutate into smiles, as the drinks go down.
Each drink imbued with such resonance, for me.
More meaningful, by far, than this tasteless cup of tea!


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