What is it now? What is it?
The street’s gone mad. They’ve seen a shooting star!
They? Who? What of it?
I’m sure I’m sorry,
But the number of people gone mad in the street
Is particularly excessive. They were shaking
Our gate, and knocking off each other’s hats,
And six fights simultaneously, and some
Were singing psalm a hundred and forty … I think
It’s a hundred and forty … and the rest of them shouting
“The Devil’s in there?” (pointing at this house.)
“Safety from Satan!” and “Where’s the woman? Where’s
The witch? Send her out!” and using words
That are only fit for the Bible. And I’m sure
There was blood in the gutter from somebody’s head
Or else it was the sunset in a puddle,
But Jobby Pinnock was prising up cobblestones,
Roaring like the north wind, and you know
What he is in church when he starts on the responses.
And that old Habakkuk Brown using our wall
As it was never meant to be used. And then
They saw a star fall over our roof somewhere
And followed its course with a downrush of whistling
And Ohs and Ahs and groans and screams; and Jobby
Pinnock dropped a stone on his own foot
And roared “Almighty God, it’s a sign!” and some
Went down on their knees and others fell over them
And they’ve started to fight again, and the hundred and fortieth
Psalm has begun again louder and faster than ever.
Hebble dear, isn’t it time they went home?
All right, all right. Now why
Can’t people mind their own business! This shooting star
Has got nothing to do with us, I am quite happy
In my mind about that. It probably when past,
Perfectly preoccupied with some astral anxiety or other
Without giving us a second thought. Eh, Tappercoom?
One of those quaint astrological holus-boluses,
Quite all right.
Quite. An excess of phlegm
In the solar system. It’s on its way
To a heavenly spittoon. How is that,
How is that? On its way …
I consider it unwise
To tempt providence with humor, Tappercoom.
(From The Lady’s Not for Burning, 1948, by Christopher Fry)