Two poems for the price of one today. They may be somewhat peripheral to Teignmouth but there are links.
They were prompted by a short article I found on the Salty, the iconic bank of sand and shingle at the mouth of the river Teign, extending from Shaldon on the south shore out into the estuary. It is a haunt of many shore and sea birds, including the redoubtable cormorant which is the common theme of the poems.
This first poem was included in the article and appeared as an anonymous poem in the Penguin Book of Comic and Curious Verse of 1952, edited by J.C.Cohen. Cohen apparently believed that it had actually been written by W.H.Auden but other research identifies Christopher Isherwood as the possible author in 1925.
The common cormorant or shag
Lays eggs inside a paper bag.
The reason you will see no doubt,
It is to keep the lightning out.
But what these unobservant birds
Have never noticed is that herds
Of wandering bears may come with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.
Drowned Fishermen come back
As famished cormorants
With bare and freezing webby toes
Instead of boots and pants
You’ve a hook at the end of your nose
You shiver all the day
Trying to dry your oilskin pyjamas
Under the icy spray.
But worst – O worst of all –
The moment that you wish
For fried fish fingers in a flash
You’re gagged with a frozen fish.
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