“The Preparations,” by W. H. Auden (Part II of “The Quest”)
All had been ordered weeks before the start
From the best firms at such work: instruments
To take the measure of all queer events,
And drugs to move the bowels or the heart.
A watch, of course, to watch impatience fly,
Lamps for the dark and shades against the sun;
Foreboding, too, insisted on a gun,
And coloured beads to soothe a savage eye.
In theory they were sound on Expectation,
Had there been situations to be in;
Unluckily they were their situation:
One should not give a poisoner medicine,
A conjurer fine apparatus, nor
A rifle to a melancholic bore.