I want to be like you, Tintin;
I love that continental flair.
I love that Nordic baby face,
Those sporty clothes you wear:
One blue sweater, one white shirt,
Knickers and jacket that go together,
Maize polo shirt, and a longish coat
That can handle any weather.
When in Tibet, an anorak,
Brown hiking boots, a balaclava,
Or, walking through the eastern sands,
With the aid of a Nepalese ghurka.
While not fastidiously safe
(No hat, no brolly for the rain),
Your footwear and your vêtements
Are suited to climate and terrain.
Your intellect encompasses
A penchant for the cosmographic.
Your life is as rich and manifold
As the pages of National Geographic.
No effort toward neighbourliness—
Who needs to know the folks next door?—
Your friends are the world’s exceptional, and
You meet them everywhere you go.
Embraced by cultures foreign to
Your artless occidental thought,
Admired for your goodness, your cool,
Your stubborn hope, your valorous heart.
No family ties to hold you down,
And hence you are more free
(Though more dependable) than any
Hapless child could wish to be.
How old are you?
No less than twelve,
No older than sixteen,
And never yet beset upon
By thunderings of puberty.
No money worries, yet exempt
Of all the tyranny of whim;
Life’s aim to aid the powerless,
To soothe, protect, deliver him.
When you end your latest adventure in the wide, wide, world, you can just amble home to Marlinspike, or whatever your mansion is called in any of thirty-one languages from Afrikaans to Welsh, seen to by Nestor, the patient, elegant butler. I see you now, moving stately through the sparkling, spacious halls in your classic attire, toward some front room where accident and surprise await to set your course toward some marvelous new undertaking. Oh world sweeter than these bars battered by my fraying wings, oh world vaster and more real than my poor and wispy days.
~First published in Perigee