by W. H. Auden
All had been ordered weeks before the start
From the best firms at such work; instruments
To take the measure of all queer events,
And drugs to move the bowels or the heart.
A watch, of course, to watch impatience fly,
Lamps for the dark and shades against the sun;
Foreboding, too, insisted on a gun,
And coloured beads to soothe a savage eye.
In theory they were sound on Expectation
Had there been situations to be in;
Unluckily they were their situation:
One should not give a poisoner medicine,
A conjurer fine apparatus, nor
A rife to a melancholic bore.
Note: A recitation can be heard here.