Last December I published a post titled “Golf Poetry for a Winter’s Day.” It included a poem called “Retrospection.” If you want a succinct description of the essence of golf, I encourage you to click here and read (better recite) the last two stanzas.
This December’s poem for a winter’s day is called “A Dirge for Summer.” It was written by Robert Risk, a Scottish poet and golfer, and appeared in his book, Songs of the Links, published in 1919.
A DIRGE FOR SUMMER
Gone are the days when by the swinging sea
We lounged and smoked between two sunny rounds,
Gone are the times of loitering by the tee;
The summer has been driven out of bounds–
No penalty is writ in white and black,
Whereby we are allowed to call it back.
Gone are the jocund evenings when we start,
High-tea’d and confident of light and weather,
Forgetful of the office and the mart,
Of debts and duns and the Golf-maniac’s blether;
Those perfect evenings, clear, and dry, and bright,
Have vanished wholly in the Ewigkeit. [eternity]
Gone is the crowd about the starter’s box,
And no one waits to-day at those short holes,
Where the procrastinating putter mocks
The men behind and harrows up their souls;
Void the grey town o’scarlet down and cleek
(I’ve half a mind to go there for a week).
For now, we must from Saturday to Saturday
Neglect our game–a week’s a weary time–
And each one brings a coorser and a watter day
(Kindly excuse a Caledonian rhyme),
For we are entered on the Golfer’s Lent,
The season of his deepest discontent.
Yet on the dim horizon looms afar,
No larger than the neatest niblick head,
A little scintillating, faithful star,
Though over all the heavens is darkness spread;
Through all the winter waste it sends a greeting,
The constellation of Next Year’s Spring Meeting.
When I read this poem it makes me think that over the last 100 years the game has changed much more than its players.