Does the Lady Have Shallots?
(To Frank, a Valediction)
Arrayed like snowy cotton lie, the tents of Chelsea’s horde,
Wherein they rest from bloody toil, split shield and blunted sword.
They wait for news of Champions new, the fate of Champions old,
Will their tri-pillared English spine remain within the fold?
Down by the rushing river’s bank, a silver flash at dawn,
Alone he rides, full armoured, through the fields of nodding corn.
No squire or bondsman in his wake, no soul has seen him leave,
But surely when they find him gone, the tented horde will grieve.
For brave Sir Lamplot now departs, he rides unto the west,
The finest knight to wear the blue, the truest and the best.*
For thirteen years he gave his all, all wreathed about in glory,
We’ll sing of goals, of trophies won and won’t mention he’s a Tory.
And where the river meets the sea, he halts to wipe a tear,
Fate’s dealt its hand, his heavy heart now knows departure’s near.
On a lonely haven’s gentle swell, ‘neath the shelter of white cliffs,
Rides the vessel that bears him away, perhaps to New York’s stiffs?
A bearded mariner of Spain, stands solitary on this sloop,
And asks the hapless victualler why his chickens have no coop?
Not long returned from Naples, he’s a well known interloper,
When he, Sir Frank did last embrace, they were the Champions of Europa.
Our hero’s love is the Lady Bleakly, she hails from Norn’ Iron’,
Sir Lamplot doth so love her food, he risks putting a spare tyre on.
But in the galley Christine weeps, distraught ‘mongst pans and pots,
“My Coq Au Vin’s,” undone she cries, for I have no shallots.
*An earlier manuscript lodged with the poet’s collected papers in Bayou University has the line:
The finest knight to wear the blue, but who never wore a vest.