Walt Whitman watches Sven

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 So, Engerlandos!
Once more you call me back from my New World fastness,
To cross the star-spangled ocean where the cod fish
Cries its silent tears underneath a crescent moon –
Alas! My ghost ship is now a worm eaten wreck,
Spars, mizzen, bowsprit, figure head and decks
All returned to dust and ashes and net and rigging no more;
And so, once more,
I swim through the cold quiet waters of the deep dark ocean,
My only accompaniments,
The hump backed whale and the cries of long dead mariners,
Who leave me alone when I fall exhausted on England’s blighted shores.
Revived by rum and tobacco,
I continue my voyage by canal and by river,
Swimming and wading through chemical and dye,
Until I reach, at last, the city of Birmingham,
Where I take my place at the Holt End,
With the ghosts of Stanley Cullis, Pongo Waring and Donald Bradman;
Still shaken by my journey through this seeming nightmare land,
I reflected on the sights that I had seen,
In this New Albion of Modernity –
Pyres of burning carcasses flaring through the ghastly night sky,
Lighting up the endless stream of trucks and lorries
Hurtling down the slaughter-house motorways of this acccursed land;
Trains snowbound-stuck in blizzards or crashing on wilting rail track;
Citizens myopically staring at television sets,
Mechanically eating their way through the day,
Pausing only to drive to the corner shop
To buy a lotto ticket or burn a cow.
Mr. Cullis held his head in his hands
And like the solitary cod fish,
He cried silent tears too-
“Where are the pint sized wingers of yesteryear”, he mourned.
“Where are those men who could turn on a sixpence
And cross the ball unerringly onto the centre forward’s bullet head?
Oh my Hancock and Mullen and Jessie Pye, where art thou now?
We, who rust-ravaged the iron curtain,
We who are now the ghosts of football past,
We, with our long ball game and big brown muddy boots,
Has it come to this?
A team of 11 is now 31?”
Pongo Waring bade us hush – “Listen”, he said;
We could hear, through the thunderous roar of the crowd,
The strains of Tord Grip whistling “I was Kaiser Bill’s Batman”;
We saw Steve Maclaren do a Kirk Douglas impression
With lodestar and a plastic model Viking longboat;
We heard Peter Taylor humming “The Ride of the Valkyries”,
While Sven sat imperturbably urbane,
Speaking on his Wodenphone –
No Berserker he,
But thoughtful, analytical, multilingual,
And foreign.
Stanley’s eyes dried,
He smiled;
“I think we can go home now”, he said;
“I have seen the future,
And it works.”


Walt first got interested in football during Euro 2000 and he is now a recognised bard of the boot and ball.

Source: https://footballpoets.org/poems/walt-whitman-watches-sven/