FOLLOW the river and cross the ford,
Follow again to the wobbly bridge,
Turn to the left at the notice board,
Climbing the cow-track over the ridge;
Tip-toe soft by the little red house,
Hold your breath if they touch the latch.
Creep to the slip-rails, still as a mouse,
Then . . . run like mad for the bracken patch.
Worm your way where the fern fronds tall
Fashion a lace-work over your head.
Hemming you in with a high, green wall;
Then, when the thrush calls once, stop dead.
Ask of the old grey wallaby there—
Him prick-eared by the woollybutt tree—
How to encounter a Glug, and where
The country of Gosh, famed Gosh may be.
But, if he is scornful, if he is dumb.
Hush! There's another way left. Then come.
On a white, still night, where the dead tree bends
Over the track, like a waiting ghost,
Travel the winding road that wends
Down to the shore on an Eastern coast.
Follow it down where the wake of the moon
Kisses the ripples of silver sand:
Follow it on where the night seas croon
A traveller's tale to the listening land.
Step not jauntily, not too grave,
Till the lip of the languorous sea you greet;
Wait till the wash of the thirteenth wave
Tumbles a jellyfish out at your feet.
Not too hopefully, not forlorn.
Whisper a word of your earnest quest;
Shed not a tear if he turns in scorn
And sneers in your face like a fish possessed.
Hist! Hope on! There is yet a way.
Brooding jellyfish won't be gay.
Wait till the clock in the tower booms three,
And the big bank opposite gnashes its doors,
Then glide with a gait that is perfectly free
By the great brick building of seventeen floors;
Haste by the draper who smirks at his door,
Straining to lure you with sinister force,
Turn up the lane by the second-hand store,
And halt by the light bay carrier's horse.
By the carrier's horse with the long, sad face
And the wisdom of years in his mournful eye;
Bow to him thrice with a courtier's grace,
Proffer your query, and pause for reply.
Eagerly ask for a hint of the Glug,
Pause for reply with your hat in your hand;
If he responds with a snort and a shrug
Strive to interpret and understand.
Rare will a carrier's horse condescend.
Yet there's another way. On to the end!
Catch the four-thirty; your ticket in hand.
Punched by the porter who broods in his box;
Journey afar to the sad, soggy land.
Wearing your shot-silk lavender socks.
Wait at the creek by the moss-grown log
Till the blood of a slain day reddens the West,
Hark for the croak of a gentleman frog,
Of a corpulent frog with a white satin vest.
Go as he guides you, over the marsh,
Treading with care on the slithery stones.
Heedless of night winds moaning and harsh
That seize you and freeze you and search for your bones.
On to the edge of a still, dark pool,
Banishing thoughts of your warm wool rug;
Gaze in the depths of it, placid and cool,
And long in your heart for one glimpse of a Glug
"Krock!" Was he mocking you? "Krock! Kor-r-rock!"
Well, you bought a return, and it's past ten o'clock.
Choose you a night when the intimate stars
Carelessly prattle of cosmic affairs.
Flat on your back, with your nose pointing Mars,
Search for the star who fled South from the Bears.
Gaze for an hour at that little blue star,
Giving him, cheerfully, wink for his wink;
Shrink to the size of the being you are;
Sneeze if you have to, but softly; then think.
Throw wide the portals and let your thoughts run
Over the earth like a galloping herd.
Bounds to profundity let there be none,
Let there be nothing too madly absurd.
Ponder on pebbles or stock exchange shares,
On the mission of man or the life of a bug,
On planets or billiards, policemen or bears,
Alert all the time for the sight of a Glug.
Meditate deeply on softgoods or sex,
On carraway seeds or the causes of bills,
Biology, art, or mysterious wrecks,
Or the tattered white fleeces of clouds on blue hills.
Muse upon ologies, freckles and fog,
Why hermits live lonely and grapes in a bunch.
On the ways of a child or the mind of a dog.
Or the oyster you bolted last Friday at lunch.
Heard you no sound like a shuddering sigh?
Or the great shout of laughter that swept down the sky?
Saw you no sign on the wide Milky Way?
Then there's naught left to you now but to pray.
Sit you at eve when the Shepherd in Blue
Calls from the West to his clustering sheep.
Then pray for the moods that old mariners woo,
For the thoughts of young mothers who watch their babes sleep.
Pray for the heart of an innocent child,
For the tolerant scorn of a weary old man,
For the petulant grief of a prophet reviled,
For the wisdom you lost when your whiskers began.
Pray for the pleasures that he who was you
Found in the mud of a shower-fed pool,
For the fears that he felt and the joys that he knew
When a little green lizard crept into the school.
Pray as they pray who are maddened by wine:
For distraction from self and a spirit at rest.
Now, deep in the heart of you search for a sign —
If there be naught of it, vain is your quest.
Lay down the book, for to follow the tale
Were to trade in false blame, as all mortals who fail.
And may the gods salve you on life's dreary round;
For 'tis whispered: "Who finds not, 'tis he shall be found!"