The Ballad of Donna Quixote

Jan Kemp

The Ballad of Donna Quixote

Jan Kemp

The Ballad of Donna Quixote

The ballad of Donna Quixote

I want to be
a Viennese lady
eating up Art in a cloche.

I want to walk
down the Champs-Élysées
with a husband who drives in a Porsche.

I want to be posh & benign
at the very same time
& to survive entirely on spinach -

but I'm Donna Quixote
so as likely as not
my dreams are all there is in it.


My Sancha Panzetta
my faithful my friend
she's round she's short & she's homely -

she'll never leave me
alone in the lurch
nor will my car, Rosinante.

I want to propose
with the tip of my nose
to my gallant my handsome Don Duce -

but I've learned like a wallflower
to wait in the wings
till his stirrups spur him

to send me a rose
to tell me I'm comely
to say I'm his only.


And in the meantime -


I want to know love
like the back of my palm
I want regents and rajahs to woo me -

To have portraits by painters
Of numberless charm.
I want Cleopatra to sue me.

I want to float down the Nile
in my very own barge
whose oarsmen make off with my booty -

I want to be loved
by the man in the moon
who'll say simply, my Donna, my Beauty.


I want to know poets
to speak in their tongues
& converse with the mighty & learned

I want to move mountains
all on my own & if lost
be found by Saint Bernard.


I want to have style
elan & pizzazz.
I want to be kind

most refined
I want to be mother of millions.

I want wandering souls
to find rest in my tent.
I want them to say

I'm better, Ms Quixote
for your tea & biscuit -
you're sort of a Florence

though without a lamp -
thanks very much
for my time in your camp.


I want to live life.
I want to be raucous & wild
or demure & most mild -

but I'm Donna Quixote
& my dreams are all
windmills and tulips.

from Only One Angel (University of Otago Press, 2001), copyright © Jan Kemp 2001, used by permission of the author


Jan Kemp

Jan Kemp Reading from her Poems


2Hexandra in recess

3Master of Ceremonies

4Poem for R A K Mason (1905 - 1971)

5Night Poem

6Old Railway Guard

7Turkey Talk

8In golden smock, walking

9Down the first road

10West Coast town


12Walking a beach


14Melanion on the waterfront

15Chagall windows, Fraumunster, Zurich

16To my father, M.H.K.

17Hong Kong sounds

18The other hemisphere

19The dance of hemispheres

20Father's metamorphosis

21Sky crosses, Singapore

22At Kikowhakerere Bay

23The terrible angel


25Song of Noah's wife

26The Ballad of Donna Quixote


28Wedding / Naming / Bells

29Snow or Alles ist klar


31Crux Australis - Te Paki o Autahi - Southern Cross

32Dante's 'heaven'

33'We are all newcomers'

34Our Paradise

35'Naked ladies' near Otama Beach, Coromandel Peninsula

36A pukeko's trip south


38Bowl spoon table

39Best friends

40A childhood secret


42On news of a poet's death: I II IV

43Someone kissed me

44E la selva oscura, non c'e?

45He reads his poem aloud

46Being Beatrice


48crossing fields

49Swiss apple

50Cornish hymn

51on Shepherd's Hill

52blasted harvest

53Millet's L'Angelus

54Red Lamp

55Sue sewing