i met a toad the other day....

© photo by Louise Adey Huish
Published by Louise Adey Huish on Tue, 31 Mar 2020 00:00
Louise's blog

A few days ago while weeding the garden, I came face to face with a frog, hiding in a clump of snowdrops. I'm not sure which of us was more shocked, him or me. I weeded round him very carefully and he gradually shuffled off into a place of greater safety (though my daughter thought I had missed a trick by not giving him a kiss for luck). 

This chance meeting put me in mind of a poem by Don Marquis, whose hilarious book 'Archy and Mehitabel' I discovered in my late teens. Mehitabel is a cat, Archy a flea who writes poetry on Don Marquis's typewriter when he's not there. (That's why the poems don't have any capital letters or punctuation, because Archy can't work the shift key.) The poem is called 'warty bliggens the toad': 

i met a toad 

the other day by the name 

of warty bliggens 

he was sitting under 

a toadstool 

feeling contented 

he explained that when the cosmos 

was created 

that toadstool was especially 

planned for his personal 

shelter from sun and rain 

thought out and prepared 

for him


do not tell me 

said warty bliggens

 that there is not a purpose 

in the universe

the thought is blasphemy


a little more 

conversation revealed 

that warty bliggens 

considers himself to be 

the centre of the said

universe

the earth exists 

to grow toadstools for him

to sit under

the sun to give him light

by day and the moon

and wheeling constellations

to make beautiful 

the night for the sake of 

warty bliggens


to what act of yours

do you impute 

this interest on the part 

of the creator

of the universe

i asked him

why is it that you

are so greatly favoured


ask rather

said warty bliggens

what the universe 

has done to deserve me

if i were a 

human being i would 

not laugh

too complacently

at poor warty bliggens

for similar 

absurdities

have only too often

lodged in the crinkles

of the human cerebrum

archy


Well, I think we've probably all met a few warty bliggenses in our time; and the coronavirus crisis seems to have thrown their attitude into stark relief. As we are brought face to face with our 'creatureliness' -- the fact that we are all dependent on our creator, and on each other; and all created equal under God -- perhaps we will have the courage to question the warty bliggens 'me first' approach to life? 

My daughter shared this observation via WhatsApp recently: 'I feel that God or the universe, whatever you choose to believe in, has gone, like: 'I'm fed up with all of you, you're grounded. Go back to your rooms, spend two weeks there, and think about what you've been doing...'

Not such a bad idea! - particularly in Lent.



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