A poem by Oliver St John Gogarty (1878 – 1957) to Kit Orpen age 6.
Kit – age 6 painted by her father William Orpen (1912).
Kit Orpen-Casey (1906 – 2003) was the daughter of William and Grace Orpen.
To Kit by Oliver St John Gogarty 26th Nov 1912
Tell me are you feeling fit
Capering ‘twixt six and seven’
like an imp let loose in Heaven.
And Keep still a minute, Kit!
And I’ll show to make you laugh
first, a lawn beside the sea;
Then a journey out for tea
In a coloured motor-car
On the road that went too far
Past an old, deserted mill –
Don’t remember? Mummy will.
(My ignoring her direction
Then, may aid her recollection).
Here’s Portmarnock! Here we are!
Take your clothes off for the sea.
Quick! make haste! You mustn’t dally.
Are you coming humming Ally?
See the sunlight on the spray!
Go in Kitty, that’s the way:
Artist Orpen’s younger daughter
Jumping in the jumping water!
Drowning, dipping up, surviving –
Who has ever seen such living!
Dipping, tripping up and skipping!
Wonderful the way you spit
out the pouring water Kit!
Blest if I could manage it!
Next, a lull without cessation –
We must find the Coastguard Station,
If your Mummy won’t despise it!
Tea, and talk to appetise it.
Noll, you must not tell such whackers;
Give back Kitty Orpen’s crackers.
Home…. when all is done and said
Kit, there comes a time for bed
But we’ll send up to the moon
An enormous fire balloon,
And will warm it and steer it
With some methylated spirit.
Is there none? No matter. Quick!
Bring coffee-cooker’s wick
Off it goes! and more’s the pity
Off you go to bed now Kitty.
Never had such a mirth day
As on Kitty Orpen’s birthday.
I could mortalise, kitty,
With all insincerity
But that saving commonsense
Sets a time for innocence
And knows the worth of difference.
Tell me now where would the glee be
If I could you or you could me be?
Yet there’s this remark to add
When I think of you and Dad,
And I envy him to own
Such a daughter – you atone
For Old Age that comes to dim
Equally both me and him,
Since it brings us sight to see
Goodness in all Gaiety
Atoning for whatever else he
may have done amiss in Chelsea.
Poem by Oliver St John Gogarty.
Oliver Duane Odysseus Gogarty (known as Noll, as mentioned in the poem), also age 6, son of Oliver St John Gogarty painted by William Orpen (1913).
Oliver St John Gogarty by William Orpen (1912).
N.B. ‘Ally’ in the poem refers to a Mr Alabaster who hummed a lot.
Post by Dominic Lee.