"Full Fathom Four"
or "Views of a Measurement Boat"


Edgar U C Westhill

  1. "To slay the whole cast our purpose must be."
  2. Medieval monks may throng your halls
  3. The autumn mists were freezing mists.
  4. Sigismund, refurbished, assaulted his crew

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"To slay the whole cast our purpose must be."
I find in the actors such cause for dismay
That the hero I chose will inevitably see
On the day of the judge, no judge of the day.

Othello or Hamlet, what matter it now?
Copernicus sat at the Organ.
He purpos'd a play, yet only new how
To sing of the Zola, or Gorgon.

They hardly envisaged financial reward,
Bankruptcy would surely ensue
But the money flowed in with a pleasant accord,
A terrible hullabaloo.

So rich they became that they hastily drank
The rum they'd been saving for D-Day.
The vapour was noxious, so fetid and rank
They rushed out and bolked in the bidet.

So sickened were they their behaviour became
The model our children avoid
By casting their legs in the manner selfsame
And glueing their kneecaps with Croid.

The play was forgotten as chaos broke out.
Our bodies were broken by bandits.
The only technician, he bulbous and stout,
Defended the case of the pundits.

"The judgment was right, I loudly uphold,
And shout it in statements of eight.
The success was assured if we were but told
We started and finished too late."

Medieval monks may throng your halls
And sup your sumptuous feasts
And Eastern Kings may pay you calls
Or Turkish Dukes, their dues reclaim.
I know more Wests than you know Easts
And treat you thus with the larger disdain
Though friends a-many among us a-main
Treat only their allies with the wildest acclaim.

Your spies may hang from curtain-rails
And treat your worries lightly
Like feather beds, reduced in sales,
Or lightweight coats in herring-bone
That hide the skirting board unsightly.
Scarcely seen's the wood obscured by loam
I scarcely mean the wood in this, our home
Now grown so ill, to all our sins atone.

The pelmet groans beneath your weight.
Your evil conscience plagues you.
The new edition will be late,
Though better than the former one,
Revised, reset and up to date too,
Presented like a family album
"Gib mir achtzehn und ein halb ... um"
Inscribed with the name Agamemnun.

Your name is embossed on my curtains.
Your head we will set in the ceiling.
My safes will be filled with your certains.
To your effigy we will be kneeling.
Sarcastic refrains we shall sing.
Saleable gifts we shall bring.

The autumn mists were freezing mists.
The Welder wends him where he lists.
The Welder lists where men may find
A beaver's quill, in silk reclin'd.
Noone can get there by candlelight,
Only the rich from East German Bight,
Only the poor who assaulted our sight, or the monks who uprooted our night.

When winter nights grow long and cold
The boilermaker starts to scold.
The boilermaker's suit is thin.
In silk he covers not his skin.
As well as this, his woe t'increase
He lives on cats and candle-grease.
The digestive process shortly will cease, he'll need all his power to obtain our release.

And when from jail we one day spring,
With eighteen voices we will sing,
In simple tones, in harmony,
Which well express our eulogy.
Silken opossums and beavers of lace,
Men in white stockings that cover the face,
Anything pleasant our concert shall grace, anything fitting and not out of place.

Some are blessed with a patent imbiber.
When drunk, tell the welder to bribe her.
So honest, so stolid, so handsomely clad,
I cannot believe he could ever be bad.
Acrid and nasty, the tone was portentous.
Prepare for a statement abrupt and tremendous.
Prepare for explosions horrendous, prepare for our breaking then mend us.

Sigismund, refurbished, assaulted his crew
On grounds of divorce and desertion.
The crew, in reply, their own wealth to pursue,
Announce a financial exertion:

Their plan comprehensive is speedily made,
Equipment is rented or bought,
And the speed of their action, so subtly played,
Is speed of a singular sort.

A bevy of boatmen's a sight to behold,
The towpath was lined with deserters.
"Their feet were so cold," Sigismund was told,
"They threatened to kill us or hurt us."

"But be not dismayed," he lustily bellowed.
"Arbuthnot," the echoes replied.
"I think of my mother," his voice now was mellow'd,
"I feel like my mother inside."

His speech was received with a minimal glee
By most of his friends and family.
Their arms were linked and the neighbouring boats
Foundered, so great was their cargo of oats.

The swell it swelled, the waves did wave.
Sigismund reviewed the fray.
As the water flooded the outer cave,
The bevy of boatmen whom noone could save,
The wealthiest King, the lowliest slave
Drowned in a manner that noone would crave
And Sigismund was lost in awful dismay.
Let us pray.

©1973, 1999 The Rat Fathom Poets
Edited by Peter Christian
May 31 2023.