To The God of Love

    COME to me, Eros, if you needs must come
       This year, with milder twinges;
    Aim not your arrow at the bull's-eye plumb,
    But let the outer pericardium
       Be where the point impinges.

    Garishly beautiful I watch them wane
       Like sunsets in a pink west,
    The passions of the past; but O their pain!
    You recollect that nice affair with Jane?
       We nearly had an inquest.

    I want some mellower romance than these,
       Something that shall not waken
    The bosom of the bard from midnight ease,
    Nor spoil his appetite for breakfast, please,
       (Porridge and eggs and bacon).

    Something that shall not steep the soul in gall,
       Nor plant it in excelsis,
    Nor quite prevent the bondman in its thrall
    From biffing off the tee as good a ball
       As anybody else's.

    But rather, when the world is dull and gray
       And everything seems horrid,
    And books are impotent to charm away
    The leaden-footed hours, shall make me say,
       "My hat!" (and strike my forehead)

    "I am in love, O circumstance how sweet!
       O n'er to-be-forgot know!"
    And praise the damsel's eyebrows, and repeat
    Her name out loud, until it's time to eat,
       Or go to bed, or what not.

    This kind of desultory bolt,
       Eros, I bid you shoot me;
    One with no barb to agitate and jolt,
    One where the feathers have begun to moult --
       Any old sort will suit me.

    E.G.V. Knox (1881-1971)

St Valentine's Day , for a time was celebrated to make fun of a serious subject. From a close knit and well known family among literary circles E G V ("Evoe") Knox was the son of Edmund Arbuthnott Knox, Bishop of Manchester. Evoe was a journalist and writer of light verse who went on to edit Punch from 1937 until the end of the war. His first wife of twenty three years, Christina passed away and he later married the daughter of Ernest Shepard, illustrator of Winnie the Pooh.

Real humor, his daughter writes in a biography about him, Eddie thought, lay not in ingenuity but in incongruity, particularly to the dignified place which man has assigned himself in the scheme of things."

He had three bothers who also made their mark in history. Dillwyn Knox, (1884-1943) an intuitive cryptographer was able to wiggle his "way in" to Enigma, the Nazis' encipherment machine. A welfare worker and Anglo-Catholic priest Wilfred Knox was known to be "witty, humble, shrewd in his judgment of men and affairs, charitable, compassionate, and saintly … He never told a lie in his entire life -- he never saw the necessity." Finally, Penelope Fitzgerald comments about the fourth brother, her uncle, Ronald Knox, (1888-1957) Chaplain of Oxford, translator of the New Testament, celebrated writer of detective jeux d'esprit novels (such as his groundbreaking "Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes"), he showed, in his popular essays, "that a normal, pipe-smoking, income-taxed Englishman, not a Jesuit, not a mystic, no black cloaks, no sweeping gestures, could become a Roman Catholic priest." One of England's most celebrated contemporary writers Evoe's daughter Penelope Fitzgerald (1916-2000) was educated as a scholar of both Wycombe Abbey and Somerville College, Oxford, where she read English, was taught by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Evoe's dexterity in rhyming, his quick-witted word-play, were legendary, known as Evoe to his audience, pronounced like his initials E.V, it is a Bacchic cry of celebration in Greek. "Wry detachment", he declared in a lecture at Cambridge in 1959, was the proper spirit of the age, "the power to be startled by nothing, however extravagant." The prose is sonorous and deft yet, like a proper gentleman's suit, never draws attention to itself. Except, perhaps, through quotations and anecdotes. A good attitude to have I think.


Blair, Bob:

Fitzgerald, Penelope. The Knox Brothers:

Public Domain text of the poem taken from the Poet’s Corner:

CST Approved.

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