... [into] the oaken box in which the hunted King was secreted....
Capern essayed to descend...
- Elihu Burritt, Walks in the Black Country (1868)
Suppose a poet-postman, full of good Victorian
Embonpoint, should chance to
Step into this house of hiding – a nook unknown to
Questing Roundhead spies – and think to slip
Unseen into the oubliette fitted out
In Cromwell’s days for a king; suppose this very
Poet – more portly in the midriff than Charles
Escaping from his throne – gets caught
Dead-center in the all-too-narrow trap-door gap.
Alas, for all his wriggling, he’s trapped
Longitudinally between floors. What can a poet,
Ill-versed in such historic lore, do but
Taunt the Muses with his long, many-syllabled
Yelps, unrhyming but in vivid metaphor?