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THE RED HEART
II The School Globe


James Reaney

 

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The English Orphan’s Monologue


From a slum of London,
Across thousands and thousands
Of wavy Atlantic waving waves,
I came to this farm
Where I spend servile days.
Oh, I hate these older people here
Who starch my arms and legs
With all sorts of bits and muzzles,
Saddles, steel corsets and whiffletrees.
But not my heart.
If they pinned me up as a shutter
Or with hinges made me into a door
They still could never
Bring my heart into their rule.

Sometimes at night I sit by the stove
And see the fire that is like my heart.
Like lively yellow honey is the fire
In a dead cold lion of iron;
Or like a yellow hand in Hell
Ringing an evil crackling bell;
Or like the hands of a demon gentleman
That are orange with yellow nails;
Or like a great yellow jaw
Of yellow teeth and scarlet gums;
Or like a comb, or a yellow saw.

So my heart may be sweet as honey
Though it lies in a carcass
As sullen and cold as the money
That bought that carcass;
Or my heart may be merry and gay
As Christmas bells of paper; or like
A greedy cruel hand that no dyke
Of morality can stop; or, sometimes,
Like a mouth howling its owner’s crimes;
Or like a cruel comb or a saw is my heart.

I am the stove in which my heart hides.
Would you guess that it there resides?
No; for only at night does my heart creep out
To seduce the stupid lout
Who’s the eldest boy of this family,
By whom I’ll manage to be with child
And then they shall drive him away with me
Which is what I want.
With this heart, a fiery comb,
I’ll comb your locks, Mrs.,
I’ll comb Harry out of them!
And with this heart a flamey saw
I’ll prune you, Mr.,
Of your nicest choicest limb.
I may seem a patient working stove
But inside me there’s that shall shove
You all over!
Beware when that comes out!
And be sorry for every whip and clout
That you’ve given me.
Haw haw haw. Teeheehee.