Original Text
The Poetical Works of Andrew Lang, ed. Mrs. Lang, 4 vols. (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1923): II, 62. British Library
3They know not, poor misguided souls,
4    They too shall perish unconsoled.
5I am the batsman and the bat,
6    I am the bowler and the ball,


1] Brahma: supreme God of post-Vedic Hindu mythology. Eleanor Durrant points out how clever Lang was to parody a poem about Hindu mysticism by recasting its subject as cricket. The game is played and followed with popular, political, and often quasi-spiritual devotion in the Indian subcontinent. Ashis Nandy's The Tao of Cricket: On Games of Destiny and the Destiny of Games (New York: Viking, 1989) observes wryly that cricket is an Indian game accidentally invented by the British.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82), the American writer whose work is imbued with transcendentalism and influenced by Eastern thought. Lang alludes to his poem of the same name:

IF the red slayer think he slays,
    Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
    I keep, and pass, and turn again.

Far or forgot to me is near;
    Shadow and sunlight are the same;
The vanish'd gods to me appear;
    And one to me are shame and fame.

They reckon ill who leave me out;
    When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
    And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.

The strong gods pine for my abode,
    And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
    Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

Back to Line
2] bowled: put "out" (in cricket a player bats only twice). Back to Line
7] pavilion: the building that houses team dressing-rooms and refreshment facilities, as well as rooms usually for the exclusive use of members of the cricket club and their guests, and that offers shelter for the players and the umpires during rain. Back to Line
8] roller: a tool or machine used to roll the playing surface flat (any deviations from a level pitch are likely to affect play for the worse).
pitch: the prepared playing surface in the centre of a cricket field, at each end of which is a wicket; also the way in which the ball is bowled (this and the previous three notes are also courtesy of Eleanor Durrant).
stumps: upright sticks that support the bails and form a wicket that the batsman defends and the bowler tries to hit. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition
RPO 2001