Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Rhymes For The Times

Here are two chess poems for the festive season. Enjoy!
Chess Piece
Of all the pieces that I've played
    There's none like lovely Rita.
I love to play her opening
    No gambit could be neater.
She is positionally strong
    She knows the variations,
But most of all I like to see
    Her pretty combinations.
I tried to fork her one black night
    But I miscalculated;
She niftily unpinned herself
    And thus she got me mated.
                   [by Jedediah Barrow ]

The Game of the Pawn and the Queen
They may sing of the bat and the wicket,
    Or the raquet and net on the green,
But what are lawn tennis and cricket.
    To the game of the Pawn and the Queen!
The gun is a tyrant and slayer,
    The niblick* a joy for the few;
Give me chess with a chivalrous player,
    And a fig for what others may do! 
In summer when perfume of roses
    Blows in at a half-open door;
When the volume unwillingly closes,
    And talking is voted a bore;
Then oh for some leafy pavilion,
    Some bower the hot rays never drench,
With a friend deeply versed in Sicilian,
    And the intricate web of the French!
And in winter, when dismal and dreary
    The snow flakes fall thick in the street;
When newsboys limp haggard and weary,
    And policemen take nips on their beat;
Then whether it thaws or it freezes,
    For a nook by a warm-giving flame,
With the boxwood and ebony pieces,
    And a comrade adept at the game!
        [Anonymous, early 20th century]
*Niblick: an old-fashioned golf club for lofted shots, corresponding to a number eight or nine iron (Chambers).

The selections come from The Poetry of Chess edited and introduced by Andrew Waterman, Anvil Press 1981. With thanks for permission to publish Chess Piece from Gerard Benson (aka Jedediah Barrow), who says that he composed it some forty years ago, when out on a country walk. Gerard Benson selects Poems on the Underground. The Game of the Pawn and the Queen was first published in Chess Lovers' Calendar for 1911, and incorporated in The Yearbook of Chess in 1912 

Seasonal best wishes to all, from the Streatham & Brixton Chess Bloggers.  


Niall said...

Many thanks for an amazing blog. Keep up the good work and have a good Christmas.

Martin Smith said...

Thanks Niall!