ode on bank holiday
by dennis stone


      this day of roundabouts and swings,
      struck weights, shied cocoa-nuts, tossed rings,
      switchbacks, aunt sallies, and all such small
      high jinks--you call it ferial?
      a holiday? but paper noses
      sniffed the artificial roses
      of round venetian cheeks through half
      each carnival year, and masks might laugh
      at things the naked face for shame
      would blush at--laugh and think no blame.
      a holiday? but galba showed
      elephants on an airy road;
      jumbo trod the tightrope then,
      and in the circus armèd men
      stabbed home for sport and died to break
      those dull imperatives that make
      a prison of every working day,
      where all must drudge and all obey.
      sing holiday! you do not know
      how to be free. the russian snow
      flowered in bright blood whose roses spread
      petals of fading, fading red
      that died into the snow again,
      into the virgin snow; and men
      from all ancient bonds were freed.
      old law, old custom, and old creed,
      old right and wrong there bled to death;
      the frozen air received their breath,
      a little smoke that died away;
      and round about them where they lay
      the snow bloomed roses. blood was there
      a red, gay flower and only fair.
      sing holiday! beneath the tree
      of innocence and liberty,
      paper nose and red cockade
      dance within the magic shade
      that makes them druken, merry, and strong
      to laugh and sing their ferial song:
      "free, free...!" but Echo answers
      faintly to the laughing dancers,
      "free"--and faintly laughs, and still,
      within the hollows of the hill,
      faintlier laughs, and whispers, "free,"
      fadingly, diminishingly:
      "free," and laughter faints away...
      sing holiday! sing holiday!
    

all in good time, sir... all in good time.