Persons from Porlock


On awaking he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved. At this moment he was unfortunately called out by a person on business from Porlock.…

It was unfortunate: Poor S.T.C.!
Once in his life, once only among men,
Once in the process of Eternity,
It happened, and it will not happen again:
His dream unbidden took shape as poetry,
And waking, he recalled it, and his pen
Set down the magic lines—then came the dread
Summons from Porlock and the vision fled.

Fortunate Coleridge! He at least began.
Porlock was tardy, almost missed its cue;
Something at least was saved of Kubla Khan,
And Porlock’s agent, give the man his due,
Paid him that single visit in the span
Of a long life of three score years and two.
The Ancient Mariner, it is fair to mention,
Escaped the Person’s sinister attention.

The Swan of Porlock is a kind of duck;
It quacks and has a large, absurd behind—
Yes, on the whole, the poet was in luck.
Think of his fate had Porlock been less kind;
The paps of Porlock might have given him suck;
Teachers from Porlock organized his mind,
And Porlock’s Muse inspired the vapid strain
Of: “Porlock, Loveliest Village of the Plain!”

And had his baffled genius stood the test,
With that one vision which is death to hide
Burning for utterance in the poet’s breast,
Porlock might still be trusted to provide
Neighbours from Porlock, culled from Porlock’s best,
The sweetest girl in Porlock for his bride,
In due course to surround him with some young
Persons from Porlock, always giving tongue.

Eight hours a day of honest Porlock toil,
And Porlock parties—useless to refuse—
The ritual gardening of Porlock soil,
Would leave him time still for a spare-time Muse—
And when with conscience murdered, wits aboil,
He shook the dust of Porlock from his shoes,
Some would be apt to blame him, some to scoff,
But others kindly come to see him off.

Porlock was gone: the marvellous dream was there.
“In Xanadu …”—He knew the words by rote,
Had but to set them down.
To his despair
He found a man from Porlock wore his coat,
And thought his thoughts; and, stolid in his chair,
A person fresh from Porlock sat and wrote:
“Amid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Voices of Porlock babbling round the bar.”

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