Thoughts about the Person from Porlock

By Stevie Smith 1902–1971 Stevie Smith
Coleridge received the Person from Porlock   
And ever after called him a curse,
Then why did he hurry to let him in?   
He could have hid in the house.

It was not right of Coleridge in fact it was wrong   
(But often we all do wrong)
As the truth is I think he was already stuck   
With Kubla Khan.

He was weeping and wailing: I am finished, finished,   
I shall never write another word of it,
When along comes the Person from Porlock
And takes the blame for it.

It was not right, it was wrong,   
But often we all do wrong.

*

May we inquire the name of the Person from Porlock?   
Why, Porson, didn’t you know?
He lived at the bottom of Porlock Hill
So had a long way to go,

He wasn’t much in the social sense
Though his grandmother was a Warlock,   
One of the Rutlandshire ones I fancy   
And nothing to do with Porlock,

And he lived at the bottom of the hill as I said   
And had a cat named Flo,   
And had a cat named Flo.

I long for the Person from Porlock
To bring my thoughts to an end,
I am becoming impatient to see him
I think of him as a friend,

Often I look out of the window
Often I run to the gate
I think, He will come this evening,
I think it is rather late.

I am hungry to be interrupted
For ever and ever amen
O Person from Porlock come quickly
And bring my thoughts to an end.

*

I felicitate the people who have a Person from Porlock   
To break up everything and throw it away
Because then there will be nothing to keep them   
And they need not stay.

*

Why do they grumble so much?
He comes like a benison
They should be glad he has not forgotten them
They might have had to go on.

*

These thoughts are depressing I know. They are depressing,   
I wish I was more cheerful, it is more pleasant,
Also it is a duty, we should smile as well as submitting   
To the purpose of One Above who is experimenting
With various mixtures of human character which goes best,   
All is interesting for him it is exciting, but not for us.   
There I go again. Smile, smile, and get some work to do
Then you will be practically unconscious without positively having to go.

Stevie Smith, “Thoughts about the Person from Porlock” from New Selected Poems. Copyright © 1972 by Stevie Smith. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: The New Selected Poems of Stevie Smith (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1988)

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Poet Stevie Smith 1902–1971

POET’S REGION England

Subjects Humor & Satire, Poetry & Poets, God & the Divine, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Stevie  Smith

Biography

Calling Stevie Smith's Not Waving but Drowning "the best collection of new poems to appear in 1957," Poetry contributor David Wright observed that "as one of the most original women poets now writing [Stevie Smith] seems to have missed most of the public accolades bestowed by critics and anthologists. One reason may be that not only does she belong to no 'school'—whether real or invented as they usually are—but her work is so . . .

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SUBJECT Humor & Satire, Poetry & Poets, God & the Divine, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION England

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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