If I’d had two days

(This is probably gesta’s fault. Or archy’s. My apologies to those who versify better or have it worse…)

If I’d had two days
I would not be writing
Because I’d be sleeping
Or reading, slowly
Because term is ended,
The last meeting done
And I am so tired
That everything’s difficult
Especially getting up
(And, weirdly, going to bed).
Also, I have a cold
So thick you could cut it
Like smelly French cheese
That runs in the heat
And I really want
To fall over and rest.
If I’d had two days
I’d be there right now.
But there’s this paper.
It is overdue
And I’ve just not been able
To get four hours straight
To work these last weeks
To gather the sources
To bump them together
And think about them.
Instead I’ve been building
Slight lean-tos of words
Through which I lace charters
Like erudite wattle
Hoping each will stand up
And when it won’t, rebuilding.
Like science, if you squint
But alas, not so much
As to make a good paper.
It may yet be scholarship;
I can’t tell from here.
If I’d had two days
I’d have done it tomorrow
After sleeping a bit
And I would feel better
But libraries shut
On Sunday round here
And Monday is all forms
For interviews Tuesday
That run until Thursday
After which comes collapse.
In any case, Monday
Is now the new due date.
So I had one day
And one day was all
I could wholly spend
On this task, and so
I have spent all that day
And small hours besides
The paper is done
It will do, it’s enough—
In fact it’s too much
But leave that aside:
I’ve accomplished my task
I wrote on demand
In the way that I do, but
If I’d had two days
I can’t tell you how much
I would rather have slept.

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13 responses to “If I’d had two days

  1. I applaud how well you’ve captured a familiar feeling.

  2. The worst or best thing about it is that once I had slept, I suddenly realised I actually had a much better conclusion and had to hack it all over again. It now feels like a good paper! But maybe I’m only euphoric because of the sleep? Thankyou all for the kind words anyway!

  3. Great post Jon! Just keep the good work on.

  4. Oh dear. There does seem to be an epidemic of insomnia, lack of sleep, colds (this year’s variant is particularly nasty) and not-enough-time at the moment. We have two more weeks to go (fortunately no admissions). I think I might just make it and the Norman Edge before I collapse.

  5. Sorry, meant to say that I love the ‘gratuitous blank verse’ tag!

    • I think it’s probably unlikely to recur, but it’s a kind of warning :-) Thankyou for words and I hope things get better for you in short order. May there be comfort in Orderic, whom I spent part of this term reading some of at last.

  6. Ah, up until the “had a conclusion, re-hacked, and now looks good” you could have been talking about me. As you no doubt have noticed.

    • I’m going through the texts in volume order at the moment so haven’t reached that far yet. Do you want me to have a look sooner so as to get you comments quicker?

      • probably not — I’m revising now, and will have a new version to you sometime tomorrow. It won’t be radically different in terms of content, but I hope it will be much fleshed out (i.e, it will have about a thousand words more, plus graphs and no missing footnotes) — and I think a little rearranged. It really doesn’t work for me at present, because it’s neither fish nor fowl.

  7. Pingback: Name in Print XIII & XIV and Lights VIII & IX: the problems are also possibilities | A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe

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