Monday, March 7, 2011

The Flaming of Rats

With apologies to T.S. Elliot...

The Flaming of Rats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a rat must have THREE DIFFERENT FLAMES.
First of all, there's the flame that the rat will use daily,
Such as Gas-burner, Candle-flame, Zippo, or Torch,
Such as Charcoal or Pilot-light, Forge or Grill Palely--
All of them sensible everyday flames.
There are fancier flames if you think they burn hotter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as White-hot, Magnesium, Kiln (for a potter)
But all of them sensible, everyday flames.
But I tell you, a rat needs a flame that's particular,
A flame that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of flames of this kind, I can give you a quire,
Such as Bessemer, Bunsen, or St. Elmo's Fire,
Such as Oxyacetylene, or Funeral Pyre--
Singular flames that one rat may acquire.
But above and beyond, there's still one flame left over,
And that is the flame that you never will guess;
The flame that no human research can discover--
But THE RAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a rat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his flame:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Flame.

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