Apolodor's Travels

excerpts 1The circus tent at Mosh-Mosh fairWas where – tucked in his frigidair –A penguin dwelt without a care.From Labrador he'd landed there. His name? Apolodor, Esquire.Profession? Singer in the choir.He was no conjurer, therefore,Nor did he walk the tight rope, norDid he dance. A minor choreWas his – he sang out of the score.He was a tenor, nothing more. Well-groomed and chubby and, therefore,Attractive in the tails he wore –That should sum up Apolodor… 2Yet, one fine day, Apolodor,Causing a general uproar,Said thus: "I'm pining with desire!I do like singing in the choir,But nonetheless I'm pining forMy kith and kin in Labrador…Oh, it would be so very niceTo join them briefly on the ice!…" Apolodor then pined some more,And cried at length – cried himself sore… 3When he was found by kitten Kits,Apolodor was having fits.Said Kits: "My friend, I'd give for youMy this here tail, my whiskers, too.I'd give a quart of scrumptious creamTo comfort you. Prithee, don't scream.Come, dry your eyes, and cry no more…" Yet he cried on: "I'm pining for My kith and kin in Labrador!…" 4And seeing that he weeps and weeps,The hedgehog gave him spines for keeps,The bear gave him berries galore,Plucked from the woods not long before.The rabbit – Fatlip was his name – With fruit and lettuce also came.(They were his colleagues in the choir,And tried to temper his desire). Suzi the camel, torn with grief,Would sob into her handkerchief.Theirs was a son-and-mother tale –T'was she had taught him his first scale. But still he cried: "I'm pining forMy kith and kin in Labrador!…" 5His colleagues then went to enquireOf the conductor of the choir. Maestro Doremibaton,His velvet frock-coat neatly on,First listened to the case entire,Then pondered it on his futon:"My poor tenor, I deploreThe plight he's let himself in for –He may well pine to death, therefore,He should go back to Labrador…" And off went young Apolodor. 6The ride went smoothly for a while.He flew up north for many a mile,It was a biplane took him there – He just leaned back without a careAnd sang, and sang, then sang some more,The way he used to sing before…And, having got carried away With the breath-taking, heady view,He hopped onto the wing – Olè!Just to show off before the crew. Next, parachute strapped safely on,Apolodor enjoyed the race,Now hanging from the aileron,Now riding on the engine case. His acrobatic capers mightHave seen him through to Labrador,But a stray cloud broke off his flight And down went our Apolodor… 19Oh, do allow me to portrayA bit of desert, if I may,And, in a word or two, to tellHow hot the sand is: hot as hell!And how no tent is to be seen,No bus, nor any such machine,No tree, however big or small,Nor any Arab shack at all.The arid waste has nought by wayOf soda fountain or café,Nor any spot of quiet shadeWhere you can sip your lemonade,Or have some cola on the run –There's nothing there but sand and sun. 20As he traipsed on, Apolodor, –Reflecting: "Oh, how hot this haze is Now it's all over, I'm done for," –Stumbled across the odd oasis:Thick shade, a cool and pleasant breeze,Sweet fragrance wafting from the trees,Large clumps of jasmine everywhereAnd, for a change, water galore. He drank his fill, then drank some more,And sang with glee a joyful air… 21From way above, beneath the sky,Hid in a palm tree swinging high,A tiny little monkey-maidWas listening, at first afraid. His song was truly a delight,His tenor voice so sweet and bright… She felt a budding sense of grace, A sentiment she couldn't place,A longing deep within her breast,Mixed with anxiety, unrest,That thing transcending every name(Extremely pleasant, all the same),Called love, as you, no doubt have guessed. 22Her tail coiled in a graceful pose,She scrambled down and came quite close.Then, eyes averted to the floor,She curtsied to AplodorAnd offered him oranges three,A bag of almonds from the tree,And told him shyly: "They are yours,Do take them, all of them, of course…" The selfsame little monkey-maid,This time she was quite unafraid,Though rather bashful, it appears,Asked him as to what name he bore(She'd moved in cultivated spheres –She spoke Romanian, therefore.) And he replied: "Apolodor…" To which the selfsame monkey-maidPiped, blushing redder than before,Yet somehow not bashful at all,:"Though I've not even made first grade –(I only go to school next fall),There's just one thing I'm longing for:A tenor husband – nothing more.If you believe in Cupid's dart,And if you don't want in your lifeTo break a little monkey's heart,I'd like to be your wedded wife…" Apolodor said: "I had notExactly planned to tie the knot,Yet I believe in Cupid's dart,And since I'm really not the kindThat breaks a little monkey's heart,Let's marry – I've made up my mind." 23Like all good children, they next wentTo Mum and Dad. For when we marry,It's right and meet and customaryTo ask our parents for consent. The father, known as Mr. Chimp,A cultured person, truth to tell,Although his speech was rather limp,Replied: "My baby, listen wellTo Daddy's sound and kind advice: You know I hold in high esteemA tenor's high and noble call;My love of music is extreme(I used to dream, when very small,Of quite a similar career),As for Apolodor, he's nice. Since I'm no tyrant, am I dear?Nor will I ever sink so low,I could, in principle, say 'yes'.Yet he, as I have come to know,Though coming from up north, I guess,Is, nonetheless, ready to goTo the South Pole – that's freezing cold!You cannot take it… Simply not –Being a chimp of the old block,You'll simply die of thermal shock.I won't consent to such a lot,You are the only child I've got. You should just do as you are told." Then Mrs. Chimp, wrinkling her nose(As every mum and woman knows),Just brought the matter to a close:"My dear children, for my part,I've been against it from the start." 24And, as befits good children, theyDid neither mope, nor did they tarry.They simply hastened to obeyTheir parents' will, as customary. Thus did Apolodor depart. And on a tiny branch there swayed,While sobbing with a broken heart,A tiny little monkey-maid.

by Gellu Naum (1915-2001)