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JAMES ATKINSON

1784—1852.

Ode to a Punkah.

Punkah! thou long hast merited an ode,
Giving thyself, as well as others airs;
Thou swing'st aloft in every man's abode,
As if in scorn of him and his affairs;
Viewing him, "grunt and sweat," as Shakespeare says,
(Coarse language, used in ancient days.)
Still puffing on.
Whilst he cries "Aura Veni"—breezes, come!
But soon a rush of heat alters his tone.
And "zor se tan" re-echoes through the room.
Then fringed or unfringed dost thou fly,
Jerk'd back and forward by old Doss,
The bearer. Straight, and now awry;
Croaking on plaintive hooks the beams across,
Tortured by many an awkward pull,
And threatening to come down, and split thy master's skull!


Punkah! 'tis thine to bless
Man, sick or well;
Thou soother of distress,
Who can thy virtues tell?

When a cold glass of soda water throws
The skin into a bath, and smarting glows
The prickly heat, thy wonderous power
Checks the distracting itch in half an hour.
On couch recumbent rolls the invalid;
Thermometer at ninety, ninety-five,
Yellow as saffron, and the heat, indeed.
Too hot by far for any thing alive.
What is there then to give a moment's ease?
Nothing in all the world but thy refreshing breeze.

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