To His Coy Carp (with apologies to Andrew Mackerel)


If I haddock but rhyme enough, parsley, thyme
This poetic parody would be no crime.
If you could share my world or I inhabit thine,
Thy Koi Carp lifestyle, would be mine.
Thou in the Indian Ganges’ tide
Should bubbles blow; I by thy side
In Humber would exhale. I would
Feed you tench years long your fishy food,
And you should, if you please, stay unholy,
Till the conversion of the coley.
My mackerel love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more roe;
An hundred years should go to plaice
Both eyes upon thy offset face;
Two hundred to adore each fin,
But many thousand till I begin;
An age at least to every scale,
And the longest age should you turn whale.
For, Fishy, you deservèd skate,
Nor would I cook at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Time’s minnowèd chariot herring near;
But, I have other fish to fry
Deserts of bass eternally.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy waters’ realm, shall sound
My angling song: no worms shall try
To hook your preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turbot dust,
And into ashes, eel my lust:
Though hake is fine and whitebait, dace,
But none, I think, do these embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful glare
Sits on thy skin like sauce tartare,
And while, pike, whiting, sole, transpire
For evermore in deep-fat fryer,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And avoid the hungry birdseye of prey,
Rather at once our timely matter
Than languish in a slow-cooked batter.
Let us rollmop our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one fish ball,
And take our pleasures with rough fault
Without Cod’s vinegar and salt:
Thus, though you can but move your lips
Think this, my love, we’ve had our chips.

6 responses to “To His Coy Carp (with apologies to Andrew Mackerel)

  1. Ha! The last line is just fantastic. No wonder you’re so good at fishy (and fishy) puns!

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