FRAGMENT OF AN AGON
by T.S. Eliot in 1927
 
 
SWEENEY. WAUCHOPE. HORSFALL. KLIPSTEIN. KRUMPACKER. SWARTS. SNOW. DORIS. DUSTY.
 
   
   
   
     
   
SWEENEY:   ....................I’ll carry you off
    To a cannibal isle.
DORIS:   You’ll be the cannibal!
SWEENEY:
  You’ll be the missionary!
    You’ll be my little seven stone missionary!
    I’ll gobble you up. I’ll be the cannibal.
DORIS:   You’ll carry me off? To a cannibal isle?
SWEENEY:   I’ll be the cannibal.
DORIS:   ....................I’ll be the missionary.
    I’ll convert you!
SWEENEY:   ....................I’ll convert you!
    Into a stew.
    A nice little, white little, missionary stew.
DORIS:   You wouldn’t eat me!
SWEENEY:   ....................Yes I’d eat you!
    In a nice little, white little, soft little, tender little,
    Juicy little, right little, missionary stew.
    You see this egg
    You see this egg
    Well that’s life on a crocodile isle.
    There’s no telephones
    There’s no gramophones
    There’s no motor cars
    No two-seaters, no six-seaters,
    No Citroën, no Rolls-Royce.
    Nothing to eat but the fruit as it grows.
    Nothing to see but the palmtrees one way
    And the sea the other way,
    Nothing to hear but the sound of the surf.
    Nothing at all but three things
DORIS:   ....................What things?
SWEENEY:   Birth, and copulation, and death.
    That’s all, that’s all, that’s all, that’s all,
    Birth, and copulation, and death.
DORIS:   I’d be bored.
SWEENEY:   ....................You’d be bored.
    Birth, and copulation, and death.
DORIS:   I’d be bored.
SWEENEY:   ....................You’d be bored.
    Birth, and copulation, and death.
    That’s all the facts when you come to brass tacks:
    Birth, and copulation, and death.
    I’ve been born, and once is enough.
    You dont remember, but I remember,
    Once is enough.
     
     
    ..............SONG BY WAUCHOPE AND HORSFALL
    ..............SWARTS AS TAMBO. SNOW AS BONES
     
     
    ....................Under the bamboo
    ....................Bamboo bamboo
    ....................Under the bamboo tree
    ....................Two live as one
    ....................One live as two
    ....................Two live as three
    ....................Under the bam
    ....................Under the boo
    ....................Under the bamboo tree.
     
    ..................... .Where the breadfruit fall
    ....................And the penguin call
    ....................And the sound is the sound of the sea
    ....................Under the bam
    ....................Under the boo
    ....................Under the bamboo tree.
     
    ..................... .Where the Gauguin maids
    ....................In the banyan shades
    ....................Wear palmleaf drapery
    ....................Under the bam
    ....................Under the boo
    ....................Under the bamboo tree.
     
    ..................... .Tell me in what part of the wood
    ....................Do you want to flirt with me?
    ....................Under the breadfruit, banyan, palmleaf
    ....................Or under the bamboo tree?
    ....................Any old tree will do for me
    ....................Any old wood is just as good
    ....................Any old isle is just my style
    ....................Any fresh egg
    ....................Any fresh egg
    ....................And the sound of the coral sea.
     
     
DORIS:   I don’t like eggs; I never liked eggs;
    And I don’t like life on your crocodile isle.
     
     
    ..............SONG BY KLIPSTEIN AND KRUMPACKER
    .....................SNOW AND SWARTS AS BEFORE
     
     
    ....................My little island girl
    ....................My little island girl
    ....................I’m going to stay with you
    ....................And we wont worry what to do
    ....................We wont have to catch any trains
    ....................And we wont go home when it rains
    ....................We’ll gather hibiscus flowers
    ....................For it wont be minutes but hours
    ....................For it wont be hours but years
 
....................And the morning
  ....................And the evening
  ....................And noontime
diminuendo
....................And night
....................Morning
  ....................Evening
  ....................Noontime
  ....................Night
     
     
DORIS:   That’s not life, that’s no life
    Why I’d just as soon be dead.
SWEENEY:   That’s what life is. Just is
DORIS:   ....................What is?
    What’s that life is?
SWEENEY:   ....................Life is death.
    I knew a man once did a girl in―
DORIS:   Oh Mr. Sweeney, please dont talk,
    I cut the cards before you came
    And I drew the coffin
SWARTS:   ....................You drew the coffin?
DORIS:   I drew the COFFIN very last card.
    I dont care for such conversation
    A woman runs a terrible risk.
SNOW:   Let Mr. Sweeney continue his story.
    I assure you, Sir, we are very interested.
SWEENEY:   I knew a man once did a girl in
    Any man might do a girl in
    Any man has to, needs to, wants to
    Once in a lifetime, do a girl in.
    Well he kept her there in a bath
    With a gallon of lysol in a bath
SWARTS:   These fellows always get pinched in the end.
SNOW:   Excuse me, they dont all get pinched in the end.
    What about them bones on Epsom Heath?
    I seen that in the papers
    You seen it in the papers
    They dont all get pinched in the end.
DORIS:   A woman runs a terrible risk.
SNOW:   Let Mr. Sweeney continue his story.
SWEENEY:   This one didn’t get pinched in the end
    But that’s another story too.
    This went on for a couple of months
    Nobody came
    And nobody went
    But he took in the milk and he paid the rent.
SWARTS:   What did he do?
    All that time, what did he do?
SWEENEY:   What did he do! what did he do?
    That dont apply.
    Talk to live men about what they do.
    He used to come and see me sometimes
    I’d give him a drink and cheer him up.
DORIS:   Cheer him up?
DUSTY:   ....................Cheer him up?
SWEENEY:   Well here again that dont apply
    But I’ve gotta use words when I talk to you.
    But here’s what I was going to say.
    He didn’t know if he was alive and the girl was dead
    He didn’t know if the girl was alive and he was dead
    He didn’t know if they both were alive or both were dead
    If he was alive then the milkman wasn’t and the rent-collector wasn’t
    And if they were alive then he was dead.
    There wasn’t any joint
    There wasn’t any joint
    For when you’re alone
    When you’re alone like he was alone
    You’re either or neither
    I tell you again it dont apply
    Death or life or life or death
    Death is life and life is death
    I gotta use words when I talk to you
    But if you understand or if you dont
    That’s nothing to me and nothing to you
    We all gotta do what we gotta do
    We’re gona sit here and drink this booze
    We’re gona sit here and have a tune
    We’re gona stay and we’re gona go
    And somebody’s gotta pay the rent
DORIS:   ....................I know who
SWEENEY:   But that’s nothing to me and nothing to you.
     
     
FULL CHORUS: WAUCHOPE, HORSFALL, KLIPSTEIN, KRUMPACKER
    .....................
     
    When you’re alone in the middle of the night and you wake in a sweat and a hell of a fright
    When you’re alone in the middle of the bed and you wake like someone hit you on the head
    You’ve had a cream of a nightmare dream and you’ve got the hoo-ha’s coming to you.
    Hoo hoo hoo
    You dreamt you waked up at seven o’clock and it’s foggy and it’s damp and it’s dawn and it’s dark
    And you wait for a knock and the turning of a lock for you know the hangman’s waiting for you.
    And perhaps you’re alive
    And perhaps you’re dead
    Hoo ha ha
    Hoo ha ha
    HOO
    HOO
    HOO
    KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK
    KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK
    KNOCK
    KNOCK
    KNOCK
 
 
 
 
The lack of an apostrophe in dont is confusing with its inclusion in wasn’t, didn’t, that’s, we’re, you’ve, you’re and it’s. Wont gets the same treatment in the song by Klipstein, Krumpacker, Snow and Swarts. His use of gotta and gona is a bit of a misnomer. But then, he did win a Nobel Prize for Literature, didn’t he? I imagine his original printers were having an ‘off’ day (and in this case I have verified the grammar and page layout with Harcourt, Brace and Company's 1936 and 1971 copies of the originally unpublished poem). Alternatively, Eliot was having his own sort of 'off' day in this particular instance (substance unknown).