Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Quoth the Eagle... "Just Win Four"

An ode to the first round...

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of playoff lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the sunny April;
And as I was eating a bagel, crumbs of which were on floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for disappointments in years before—
All those playoff losses from Capital seasons of yore—
Nameless here for evermore.

And I sat here, sad and surly, thinking of each red-rocked jersey
That killed me—filled me with those tragic images often felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken were the whispered words, “Win Four.”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the words, “Win four!”—
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Eagle of the Capitals days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Langway just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this regal bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the piercing sound upon its call,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Eagle wandering from the Ballston Mall—
Tell me what thy message is that you would scrawl upon the wall!”
Quoth the Eagle “just win four.”

Much I marvelled this majestic raptor to hear discourse verse and chapter,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With the message of “just win four.”

But the Eagle, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
Just those words, as if his soul in those few words he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other teams could not win four.”
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.
Then the bird said “just win four.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster with playoff wins a fruitless chore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘four’—just win four’.”

But the Eagle still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
To NHL.com, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “just win four.”

Thus I sat a nervous wreck, watching tape of hip and poke checks
With the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
Hoping that the Caps win four!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of playoff yore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this playoff lore!”
Quoth the Eagle “just win four.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Verizon?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Eagle “just win four.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that sport we both adore—
Tell this fan with who is so uptight if, within the next fortnight,
It shall clasp a vision of a team that can win four—
Clasp a vision of a team that can ‘win four.’”
Quoth the Eagle “If they can score.”

“Be those words our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no white plume as a token of faint hope thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my sadness still unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Eagle “geez, what a bore!”

And the Eagle, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Langway just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a Bettman, always scheming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—if the Caps win four!

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