"It's Great When You Get In"

Original Text: 
"Laconics," New London Telegraph (Sept. 28, 1912). Eugene O'Neill, Poems 1912-1944, ed. Donald Gallup (New Haven and New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1980): 19-20.
1They told me the water was lovely,
2    That I ought to go for a swim,
3The air was maybe a trifle cool,
4    "You won't mind it when you get in"
5So I journeyed cheerfully beach-ward,
6    And nobody put me wise,
7But everyone boosted my courage
8    With an earful of jovial lies.
9The Sound looked cold and clammy,
10    The water seemed chilly and gray,
11But I hastened into my bathing suit
12    And floundered into the spray.
13Believe me, the moment I touched it
14    I realized then and there,
15That the fretful sea was not meant for me
16    But fixed for a polar bear.
17I didn't swim for distance
18    I didn't do the crawl,
19(They asked why I failed to reach the raft,
20    And I told them to hire a hall.)
21But I girded my icy garments
22    Round my quaking limbs so blue,
23And I beat it back to the bath house
24    To warm up for an age or two.
25I felt like a frozen mummy
26    In an icy winding sheet.
27It took me over an hour
28    To calm my chattering teeth.
31As I tried to awaken some life in
32    My still unconscious toes.
33So be warned by my example
34    And shun the flowing sea,
35When the chill winds of September
36    Blow sad and drearily.
37Heed not the tempters' chatter
38    Pass them the skeptics' grin
40    Is "It's great when you get in."


29] Peary: Robert Edwin Peary (1856-1920), Arctic explorer. Back to Line
30] Amundsen: Roald Amundsen (1872-1928), Norwegian polar explorer. Back to Line
39] bull: nonsense, lying brag. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1999.