David Boyle

Oh Shenandoah

Oh, Shenandoah, I love your daughter.
And though I felt comfortable,
loving even, with so many others,
I find I can no longer continue
my life as an actuary and clerk
in a middle-sized firm of city insurance brokers
without her devotion,
love, passion, desire, thrill, excitement,
hand across the table on a cold winter evening,
unwashed face across the pillow in the morning.
I love your daughter
and the earth turned on its axis when I did so,
and whole seasons have shifted around the globe,
the ocean has swallowed up New York, Sydney, Tokyo,
and caused a run on the pound,
the British Chancellor has resigned and the stars have altered their paths.
And I can't wake without thinking of her,
can't buy a ticket at the station without thinking of her,
can't dream without thinking of her.
I am a small man, barely average height;
my prospects are unexciting to say the least
I readily admit
that a small Lambeth council tax payer has little to offer
to the daughter of one of the greatest rivers on earth,
that you and she will course your ways without me.
And yet
what I feel is simple and seismic
about the way she throws her head back at my feeble jokes
about the way she tentatively strokes my hand
about her pink woollen socks and strange taste in wallpaper,
may lift me up beyond the banality of commuting.
And I will shrivel and die without her.
So give me this chance
Restore the earth
Let the ants work again, the bees sting, the cows smile, the beer taste, and sunlight dapple and the valleys hum
And restore me too.
Let me, for one moment, roar down the earth inexorably towards the sea.
Give me your strength
And let me win
And let me never forget it.

August 1994


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title: books by David Boyle
Broke Voyages of Discovery Money Matters Blondel's Song Leaves World to Darkness The Little Money Book Funny Money The Tyranny of Numbers