The Corner

Happy Birthday

I was just browsing through the collected poems of Kingsley Amis, a true conservative if ever there was one.  I offer this poem–which, according to Google, cannot be found elsewhere on the Internet–as a present to anyone celebrating his/her 50th birthday today.  It’s a bit of a Cold War piece, but if that irks you, just replace “Soviet” by the adjective of your choice–”globalized,” “Islamicized,” etc., etc.  Ode to Meby Kingsley AmisFifty today, old lad?Well, that’s not doing so bad:All those years withoutBeing really buggered about.The next fifty won’t be so good,True, but for now–touch wood–You can eat and booze and the rest of it,Still get a lot of the best of it,While the shags with fifty or soActual years to goWill find most of them tougher,The going a good bit rougherWithin the Soviet sphere–Which means when the bastards are here,Making it perfectly clearThat all that double-think(Both systems on the blink,East and West the same,And war just the name of a game)Is the ballocks it always was.But will it be clear?  BecauseAfter a whole generationOf phasing out education,Throwing the past away,Letting the language decay,And expanding the general mindTill it bursts, we might well findThat it wouldn’t make much oddsTo the poor semi-sentient sodsShuffling round England thenThat they’ve lost what made them men.So bloody good luck to you, mate,That you weren’t born too lateFor at least a chance of happiness,Before unchangeable crappinessSpreads over all the land.Be glad you’re fifty–andThat you got there while things were nice,In a world worth looking at twice.So here’s wishing you many more years,But not all that many.  Cheers!

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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