Lucy Vickery

Missing person report

In Competition No. 2973 you were invited to give your thoughts, in verse or prose, on who the Person from Porlock might have been — assuming, of course, that there was such a person. Many thanks to John McGivering, who suggested this excellect competition. Some fingered, as De Quincey did, Coleridge’s doctor and laudanum source. Also in the frame were Jehovah’s Witness, PPI ambulance-chasers and the drugs squad. And many agreed with Stevie Smith: ‘As the truth is I think he was already stuck/ With Kubla Khan … When along comes the Person from Porlock/ And takes the blame for it.’ The winners take £25 each; Frank McDonald nabs £30.

There came a man from Porlock
And he knocked on Samuel’s door
While he was hard at work. Alas
Poor Samuel wrote no more.


‘Now who be ye’ the poet asked
‘Would come at such a time?’
The old man simply stared and said:
‘Put what I say in rime.’


‘But I have dreamt of Xanadu,
And much have I to write.’
‘Be silent,’ said the visitor.
The poet turned deathly white.


‘I am an ancient mariner,’
The visitor began,
And Samuel listened long and hard,
Forgetting Kublai Khan.
Frank McDonald



I had to call on him about the drains
(We get a blow-back every time it rains.)
As usual he was peeking round the blind.
As usual he was stoned out of his mind.
As usual he’d some verse for me to read —
For once a mere beginning, not a screed,
About a ‘pleasure-dome’. (Eh? One of those
Big oriental brothels, I suppose.)
It all amounted to a junkie’s dream,
But while he had me trapped he let off steam
About some ‘egotistical sublime’
Completely up himself, so by the time
He’d finished ranting it was far too late
To work. I left him in his blissed-out state.
As usual it would mean another call.
As usual he’d remember bugger-all.
Basil Ransome-Davies















The English team at Porlock Uni prides itself on being critically proactive, so when we took the faculty’s tardis to 1797 Nether Stowey, we meant business.

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