It Was Only a Matter of Time

until Robert Service and Roland Barthes were invoked in what is becoming a sort of Laziness Project, although the word “project” does not quite satisfy me. Project is too industrious-sounding for a post that relies entirely on other people to speak for me.

Let’s begin with Robert Service. It cracks me up that a man with a last name like that would become the poet laureate of idleness. This is a top 100 poem too, to prove there is a place in the BlogLily canon for silliness.


Let laureates sing with rapturous swing
Of the wonder and glory of work;
Let pulpiteers preach and with passion impeach
The indolent wretches who shirk.
No doubt they are right: in the stress of the fight
It’s the slackers who go to the wall;
So though it’s my shame I perversely proclaim
It’s fine to do nothing at all.

It’s fine to recline on the flat of one’s spine,
With never a thought in one’s head:
It’s lovely to lie staring up at the sky
When others are earning their bread.
It’s great to feel one with the soil and the sun,
Drowned deep in the grasses so tall;
Oh it’s noble to sweat, pounds and dollars to get,
But – it’s grand to do nothing at all.

So sing to the praise of the fellows who laze
Instead of lambasting the soil;
The vagabonds gay who lounge by the way,
Conscientious objectors to toil.
But lest you should think, by this spatter of ink,
The Muses still hold me in thrall,
I’ll round out my rhyme, and (until the next time)
Work like hell – doing nothing at all.

Your reward, dear reader, for making it this far is Roland Barthes who, evidently, gave an interview in which he discussed his views on laziness with an eloquence and vigor that might lead one to conclude he wasn’t really talking about the sort of laying about practiced by people like me, but was really demonstrating the more conscious embrace of idleness practiced by the French which would explain why he’s got an entire theory going here to describe the act of looking out the window for several hours while doing nothing more taxing than drinking a soft drink and writing a sentence that you are too slothful to even bother to punctuate.


Reclining on the flat of my spine, BL



10 thoughts on “It Was Only a Matter of Time

  1. Ha! You made me laugh with your evocation of Barthes! He used to get very very bored at academic conferences (believe me, he had good reason) and so the first conference paper I gave, which just so happened to be about him and about photographs of him, I left up on the screen while I was talking a picture of him bored out of his mind while at just such an event. It seemed so very appropriate!

  2. Okay, now that the topic is laziness, I feel compelled to chime in, because I am somewhat of an expert in the field, of laziness, that is. But we Irwins call it “il dolce far niente.” which translates to “the sweetness of doing nothing. This is a fine art, and leave it to the Italians to have the perfect expression. I am of the opinion that life can be short, and it’s important to enjoy it. Your photos from yesterday show great signs of il doce far niente, and sitting in the shade of soccer practice sounds appropriately Italian. so I think you’re getting there. But this project business has got to go! ciao bella.

  3. Hi LK — Don’t you think there are some really great lines in that poem? The one about being a conscientious objector to toil is too good not to repeat again and again. Litlove — What a great thing to do in a lecture. I wonder if that photo’s online anywhere. It would be fun to have a look at.

    My dear Dorothy, I can only conclude that the French version of laziness is of a different sort than the american.

    Hey Lucy — First Ella, now you — it’s so great to see some Irwins over here. Il Dolce far niente it is. this very weekend. No projects. Just cookies and banana bread.

    You are indeed, BikeProf. Serious.

    Emily, I’m so glad. I know you’re a fan of funny poems. have a lovely, lazy weekend. xxoo, BL

  4. I can really get behind laziness…

    In The Church of the SubGenius — which offers “instant answers to everything” and states “your secret wishes can be granted in full – once you know what they are! You’ll PAY to know what you REALLY think” — the holy man of the church, “Bob” is the personification of Slack, it is said. This parody (I think) of religious cultism makes a big deal out of Slack which is a kind of holy goofing off, as far as I can make it out. I like that concept of Slack and I often follow it religiously.

    May you have fruitful laying about!

  5. Dear Bloglily

    What a pleasure to be reminded of the wonderful poetry of Robert Service. Somewhere in the depths of our vinyl record collection we have an L.P. of his anti-war poems sung by Country Joe MacDonald (of the Fish and Woodstock), which was a much loved favourite decades ago. I’m inspired to pull it out and listen again.

  6. Thanks Fencer. I wish the same for you. And thanks for the tip about Bob. If I go the route of embracing a religion devoted to laying about (and really, you know the next thing I’m going to say is that I’m too lazy to do that), it’s good to know there’s one ready-made for that very purpose.

    Hi Ruth — That LP sounds wonderful. Just the thing we should all be listening to. Best, BL

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s