Latest quotes | Random quotes | Vote! | Latest comments | Add quote

Aphorism is a phrase that, after removal of context, retains all its meaning, and even gaining a new one.

aphorism by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Simona Enache
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Related quotes

Reflections On A Storm

There was a calm felt before the storm
and also some uneasiness in every form
a hushed anticipation of what was soon to be
perhaps a fateful outcome of each one’s destiny.

During this time it became very dark and foreboding
that everything around lost all its charm and standing.
Suddenly there were flashes of lightning and clashes of thunder,
which rolled from the clouds, seen and heard by all there under.

Then a strong wind blew and a heavy rain began to fall
lashing onto everything around as it turned into a squall.
As the tempest raged on in a crescendo and reached its peak;
turning day into night and night into day, all seemed so bleak.

There many creatures all scampered and sought the safety of shelter,
out of the maelstrom unleashed by nature, in a state of helter-skelter.
They all knew their places when it came to that threat of danger;
out of harms reach they tried to flee even if it was with a stranger.

After the storm had spent all its fury and slowly subsided
a calm settled in again which had lately just been divided.
And all appeared to have been molested and somewhat shaken
as light broke through the clouds to make that day re-awaken.

While the storm in its wake seemed to have wreaked much devastation
the forces which had come into play reminded one of the act of creation,
when those seeds of life were implanted ages ago at the very beginning,
causing all things to gradually spring into existence with some meaning.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share
Rabindranath Tagore

Fireflies

My fancies are fireflies, —
Specks of living light
twinkling in the dark.

he voice of wayside pansies,
that do not attract the careless glance,
murmurs in these desultory lines.

In the drowsy dark caves of the mind
dreams build their nest with fragments
dropped from day's caravan.

Spring scatters the petals of flowers
that are not for the fruits of the future,
but for the moment's whim.

Joy freed from the bond of earth's slumber
rushes into numberless leaves,
and dances in the air for a day.

My words that are slight
my lightly dance upon time's waves
when my works havy with import have gone down.

Mind's underground moths
grow filmy wings
and take a farewell flight
in the sunset sky.

The butterfly counts not months but moments,
and has time enough.

My thoughts, like spark, ride on winged surprises,
carrying a single laughter.
The tree gazes in love at its own beautiful shadow
which yet it never can grasp.

Let my love, like sunlight, surround you
and yet give you illumined freedom.

Days are coloured vbubbles
that float upon the surface of fathomless night.

My offerings are too timid to claim your remembrance,
and therefore you may remember them.

Leave out my name from the gift
if it be a burden,
but keep my song.

April, like a child,
writes hieroglyphs on dust with flowers,
wipes them away and forgets.

Memory, the priestess,
kills the present
and offers its heart to the shrine of the dead past.

From the solemn gloom of the temple
children run out to sit in the dust,
God watches them play
and forgets the priest.

My mind starts up at some flash
on the flow of its thoughts
like a brook at a sudden liquid note of its own
that is never repeated.

In the mountain, stillness surges up
to explore its own height;
in the lake, movement stands still
to contemplate its own depth.

The departing night's one kiss
on the closed eyes of morning
glows in the star of dawn.

Maiden, thy beauty is like a fruit
which is yet to mature,
tense with an unyielding secret.

Sorrow that has lost its memory
is like the dumb dark hours
that have no bird songs
but only the cricket's chirp.

Bigotry tries to keep turth safe in its hand
with a grip that kills it.
Wishing to hearten a timid lamp
great night lights all her stars.

Though he holds in his arms the earth-bride,
the sky is ever immensely away.

God seeks comrades and claims love,
the Devil seeks slaves and claims obedience.

The soil in return for her service
keeps the tree tied to her,
the sky asks nothing and leaves it free.

Jewel-like immortal
does not boast of its length of years
but of the scintillating point of its moment.

The child ever dwells in the mystery of ageless time,
unobscured by the dust of history.

Alight laughter in the steps of creation
carries it swiftly across time.

One who was distant came near to me in the morning,
and still nearer when taken away by night.

White and pink oleanders meet
and make merry in different dialects.

When peace is active swepping its dirt, it is storm.

The lake lies low by the hill,
a tearful entreaty of love
at the foot of the inflexible.

There smiles the Divine Child
among his playthings of unmeaning clouds
and ephemeral lights and shadows.

The breeze whispers to the lotus,
'What is thy secret?'
'It is myself,' says the lotus,
'Steal it and I disappear!'

The freedom of the storm and the bondage of the stem
join hands in the dance of swaying branches.

The jasmine's lisping of love to the sun is her flowers.

The tyrant claims freedom to kill freedom
and yet to keep it for himself.

Gods, tired of their paradise, envy man.

Clouds are hills in vapour,
hills are clouds in stone, —
a phantasy in time's dream.

While God waits for His temple to be built of love,
men bring stones.

I touch God in my song
as the hill touches the far-away sea
with its waterfall.

Light finds her treasure of colours
through the antagonism of clouds.

My heart to-day smiles at its past night of tears
like a wet tree glistening in the sun
after the rain is over.

I have thanked the trees that have made my life fruitflul,
but have failed to remember the grass
that has ever kept it green.

The one without second is emptiness,
the other one makes it true.

Life's errors cry for the merciful beauty
that can modulate their isolation
into a harmony with the whole.

They expect thanks for the banished nest
because their cage is shapely and secure.

In love I pay my endless debt to thee
for what thou art.

The pond sends up its lyrics from its dark in lilies,
and the sun says, they are good.

Your calumny against the great is impious,
it hurts yourself;
against the small it is mean,
for it hurts the victim.

The first flower that blossomed on this earth
was an invitation to the unborn song.

Dawn—the many-coloured flower—fades,
and then the simple light-fruit,
the sun appears.

The muscle that has a doubt if its wisdom
throttles the voice that would cry.

The wind tries to take the flame by storm
only to blow it out.

Life's play is swift,
Life's playthings fall behind one by one
and are forgotten.

My flower, seek not thy paradise
in a fool's buttonhole.

Thou hast risen late, my crescent moon,
but my night bird is still awake to greet thee.

Darkness is the veiled bride
silently waiting for the errant light
to return to her bosom.

Trees are the earth's endless effort to
speak to the listening heaven.

The burden of self is lightened
when I laugh at myself.

The weak can be terrible
because they try furiously to appear strong.

The wind of heaven blows,
The anchor desperately clutches the mud,
and my boat is beating its breast against the chain.

The spirit of death is one,
the spirit of life is many,
Whe God is dead religion becomes one.

The blue of the sky longs for the earth's green,
the wind between them sighs, 'Alas.'
Day's pain muffled by its own glare,
burns among stars in the night.

The stars crowd round the virgin night
in silent awe at her loneliness
that can never be touched.

The cloud gives all its gold
to the departing sun
and greets the rising moon
with only a pale smile.

He who does good comes to the temple gate,
he who loves reaches the shrine.

Flower, have pity for the worm,
it is not a bee,
its love is a blunder and a burden.

With the ruins of terror's triumph
children build their doll's house.

The lamp waits through the long day of neglect
for the flame's kiss in the night.

Feathers in the dust lying lazily content
have forgotten their sky.

The flowers which is single
need not envy the thorns
that are numerous.

The world suffers most from the disinterested tyranny
of its well-wisher.

We gain freedom whrn we have paid the full price
for our right to live.

Your careless gifts of a moment,
like the meteors of an autumn night,
catch fire in the depth of my being.

The faith waiting in the heart of a seed
promises a miracle of life
which it cannot prove at once.

Spring hesitates at winter's door,
but the mango blossom rashly runs our to him
before her time and meets her doom.

The world is the ever-changing foam
thet floats on the surface of a sea of silence.

The two separated shores mingle their voices
in a song of unfathomed tears.

As a river in the sea,
work finds its fulfilment
in the depth of leisure.

I lingered on my way till thy cherry tree lost ist bossom,
but the azalea brins to me, my love, thy forgiveness.

Thy shy little pomegranate bud,
blushing to-day behind her veil,
will burst into a passionate flower
to-morrow when I am away.

The clumsiness of power spoils the key,
and uses the pickaxe.

Birth is from the mystery of night
into the grerater mystery of day.

These paper boats of mine are meant to dance
on the ripples of hours,
and not to reach any destination.

Migratory songs wing from my heart
and seek their nests in your voice of love.

The sea of danger, doubt and denial
around man's little island of certainty
challenges him to dare the unknown.

Love punishes when it forgives,
and injured beauty by its awful silence.

You live alone and unrecompensed
because they are afraid of your great worth.

The same sun is newly born in new lands
in a ring of endless dawns.

God is world is ever renewed by death,
a Titan's ever crushed by its own existence.

The glow-worm while exploring the dust
never knows that stars are in the sky.

The tree is of to-day, the flower is old,
it brings with it the message
of the immemorial seed.

Each rose that comes brings me greetings
from the Rose of an eternal spring.
God honours me when I work,
He loves me when I sing.

My love of to-day finds no home
in the nest deserted by yesterday's love.

The fire of pain tracse for my soul
a luminous path across her sorrow.

The grass survives the hill
through its resurrections from countless deaths.

Thou hast vanished from my reach
leaving an impalpable touch in the blue of the sky,
an invisible image in the wind moving
among the shadows.

In pity for the desolate branch
spring leaves to it a kiss that fluttered in a lonely leaf.

The shy shadow in the farden
loves the sun in silence,
Flowers guess the secret, and mile,
while the leaves whisper.

I leave no trace of wings in the air,
but I am glad I have had my flight.

The fireflies, twinkling among leaves,
make the stars wonder.

The mountain remains unmoved
at its seeming defeat by the mist.

While the rose said to the sun,
'I shall ever remember thee,'
her petals fell to the dust.

Hills are the earth's gesture of despair
for the unreachable.

Though the thorn in thy flower pricked me,
O Beauty,
I am grateful.

The world knows that the few
are more than the many.

Let not my love be a burden on you, my friend,
know that it pays itself.

Dawn plays her lute before the gate of darkness,
and is content to vanish when the sun comes out.

Beauty is truth's smile
when she beholds her own face
in a perfect mirror.

The dew-drop knows the sun
only within its own tiny orb.

Forlorn thoughts from the forsaken hives of all ages,
swarming in the air, hum round my heart
and seek my voice.

The desert is imprisoned in the wall
of its unbounded barrenness.

In the thrill of little leaves
I see the air's invisible dance,
and in their glimmering
the secret heart-beats of the sky.

You are like a flowering tree,
amazed when I praise you for your gifts.

The earth's sacrifical fire
flames up in her trees,
scattering sparks in flowers.

Foretsts, the clouds of earth,
hold up to the sky their silence,
and clouds from above come down
in resonant showers.

The world speaks to me in pictures,
my soul answers in music.

The sky tells its beads all night
on the countless stars
in memory of the sun.

The darkness of night, like pain, is dumb,
the darkness of dawn, like peace, is silent.

Pride engraves his frowns in stones,
loe offers her surrender in flowers.

The obsequious brush curtails truth
in diference to the canvas which is narrow.

The hill in its longing for the far-away sky
wishes to be like the cloud
with its endless urge of seeking.

To justify their own spilling of ink
they spell the day as night.

Profit smiles on goodness
when the good is profitable.

In its swelling pride
the bubble doubts the turth of the sea,
and laughs and bursts into emptiness.

Love is an endless mystery,
for it has nothing else to explain its.

My clouds, sorrowing in the dark,
forget that they themselves
have hidden the sun.

Man discovers his own wealth
when God comes to ask gifts of him.

You leave your memory as a flame
to my lonely lamp of separation.

I came to offer thee a flower,
but thou must have all my garden,—
It is thine.

The picture—a memory of light
treasured by the shadow.

It is easy to make faces at the sun,
He is exposed by his own light in all
directions.

History slowly smothers its truth,
but hastily struggles to revive it
in the terrible penance of pain.

My work is rewarded in daily wages,
I wait for my final value in love.

Beauty knows to say, 'Enough,'
barbarism clamours for still more.

God loves to see in me, not his servant,
but himself who serves all.

The darkness of night is in harmony with day,
the morning of mist is discordant.

In the bounteous time of roses love is wine,—
it is food in the famished hour
when their petals are shed.

An unknown flower in a strange land
speaks to the poet:
'Are we not of the same soil, my lover?'

I am able to love my God
because He gives me freedom to deny Him.

My untuned strings beg for music
in their anguished cry of shame.

The worm thinks it strange and foolish
that man does not eat his books.

The clouded sky to-day bears the visior
of the shadow of a divine sadness
on the forehead of brooding eternity.

The shade of my tree is for passers-by,
its fruit for the one for whom I wait.

Flushed with the glow of sunset
earth seems like a ripe fruit
ready to be harvested by night.

Light accepts darkness for his spouse
for the sake of creation.

The reed waits for his master's breath,
the Master goes seeking for his reed.

To the blind pen the hand that writes is unreal,
its writing unmeaning.

The sea smites his own barren breast
because he has no flowers to offer to the moon.

The greed for fruit misses the flower.

God in His temple of stars
waits for man to bring him his lamp.

The fire restrained in the tree fashions flowers.
Released from bonds, the shameless flame
dies in barren ashes.

The sky sets no snare to capture the moon,
it is her own freedom which binds her.
The light that fills the sky
seeks its limit in a dew-drop on the grass.

Wealth is the burden of bigness,
Welfare the fulness of being.

The razor-blade is proud of its keenness
when it sneers at the sun.

The butterfly has leisure to love the lotus,
not the bee busily storing honey.

Child, thou bringest to my heart
the babble of the wind and the water,
the flower's speechless secrets, the clouds' dreams,
the mute gaze of wonder of the morning sky.

The rainbow among the clouds may be great
but the little butterfly among the bushes is greater.

The mist weaves her net round the morning,
captivates him, and makes him blind.

The Morning Star whispers to Dawn,
'Tell me that you are only for me.'
'Yes,' she answers,
'And also only for that nameless flower.'

The sky remains infinitely vacant
for earth there to build its heaven with dreams.

Perhaps the crescent moon smiles in doubt
at being told that it is a fragment
awaiting perfection.

Let the evening forgive the mistakes of the day
and thus win peace for herself.

Beauty smiles in the confinement of the bud,
in the heart of a sweet incompleteness.

Your flitting love lightly brushed with its wings
my sun-flower
and never asked if it was ready to surrender its honey.

Leaves are silences
around flowers which are their words.

The tree bears its thousand years
as one large majestic moment.

My offerings are not for the temple at the end of the road,
but for the wayside shrines
that surprise me at every bend.

Hour smile, my love, like the smell of a strange flower,
is simple and inexplicable.

Death laughs when the merit of the dead is exaggerated
for it swells his store with more than he can claim.

The sigh of the shore follows in vain
the breeze that hastens the ship across the sea.

Truth loves its limits,
for there it meets the beautiful.

Between the shores of Me and Thee
there is the loud ocean, my own surging self,
which I long to cross.

The right to possess boasts foolishly
of its right to enjoy.

The rose is a great deal more
than a blushing apology for the thorn.

Day offers to the silence of stars
his golden lute to be tuned
for the endless life.

The wise know how to teach,
the fool how to smite.

The centre is still and silent in the heart
of an enternal dance of circles.

The judge thinks that he is just when he compares
The oil of another's lamp
with the light of his own.

The captive flower in the King's wreath
smiles bitterly when the meadow-flower envies her.

Its store of snow is the hill's own burden,
its outpouring if streams is borne by all the world.

Listen to the prayer of the forest
for its freedom in flowers.

Let your love see me
even through the barrier of nearness.

The spirit of work in creation is there
to carry and help the spirit of play.

To carry the burden of the insturment,
count the cost of its material,
and never to know that it is for music,
is the tragedy of deaf life.

Faith is the bird that feels the light
and sings when the dawn is still dark.

I bring to thee, night, my day's empty cup,
to be cleansed with thy cool darkness
for a new morning's festival.

The mountain fir, in its rustling,
modulates the memory of its fights with the storm
into a hymn of peace.

God honoured me with his fight
when I was rebellious,
He ignored me when I was languid.

The sectarina thinks
that he has the sea
ladled into his private pond.

In the shady depth of life
are the lonely nests of memories
that shrink from words.

Let my love find its strength
in the service of day,
its peace in the union of night.

Life sends up in blades of grass
its silent hymn of praise
to the unnamed Light.

The stars of night are to me
the memorials of my day's faded flowers.

Open thy door to that which must go,
for the loss becomes unseemly when obstructed.

True end is not in the reaching of the limit,
but in a completion which is limitless.

The shore whispers to the sea:
'Write to me what thy waves struggle to say.'
The sea writes in foam again and again
and wipes off the lines in a boisterous despair.

Let the touch ofthy finger thrill my life's strings
and make the music thine and mine.

The inner world rounded in my life like a fruit,
matured in joy and sorrow,
will drop into the darkness of the orogonal soil
for some further course of creation.

Form is in Matter, rhythm in Force,
meaning in the Person.

There are seekers of wisdom and seekers of wealth,
I seek thy company so that I may sing.

As the tree its leaves, I shed my words on the earth,
let my thoughts unuttered flower in thy silence.

My faith in truth, my vision of the perfect,
help thee, Master, in thy creation.

All the delights that I have felt
in life's fruits and flowers
let me offer to thee at the end of the feast,
in a perfect union of love.

Some have thought deeply and explored the
meaning of thy truth,
and they are great;
I have listened to catch the music of thy play,
and I am glad.

The tree is a winged spirit
released from the bondage of seed,
pursuing its adventure of life
across the unknown.

The lotus offers its beauty to the heaven,
the grass its service to the earth.

The sun's kiss mellows into abandonment
the miserliness of the green fruit clinging to its stem.

The flame met the earthen lamp in me,
and what a great marvel of light!

Mistakes live in the neighbourhood of truth
and therefore delude us.

The cloud laughed at the rainbow
saying that is was an upstart
gaudy in its emptiness.
The rainbow calmly answered,
'I am as inevitably real as tha sun himself.'

Let me not grope in vain in the dark
but keep my mind still in the faith
that the day will break
and truth will appear
in its simplicity.

Through the silent night
I hear the returning vagrant hopes of the morning
knock at my heart.

My new love comes
bringing to me the eternal wealth of the old.

The earth gazes at the moon and wonders
that she sould have all her music in her smile.

Day with its glare of curiosity
puts the stars to flight.

My mind has itstrue union with thee, O sky,
at the window which is mine own,
and not in the open
where thou hast thy sole kingdom.

Man claims God's flowers as his own
when he weaves them in a garland.

The buried city, laid bare to the sun of a new age,
is ashamed that is has lost all its song.

Like my heart's pain that has long missed its meaning,
the sun's rays robed in dark
hide themselves under the ground.
Like my heart'spain at love's sudden touch,
they change their veil at the spring's call
and come out in the carnival of colours,
in flowers and leaves.

My life's empty flute
waits for its final music
like the primal darkness
before the stars came out.

Emancipation from the bondage of the soil
is no freedom for the tree.

The tapestry of life's story is woven
with the threads of life's ties
ever joining and breaking.

Those thoughts of mine that are never captured by words
perch upon my song and dance.

My soul to-night loses itself
in the silent heart of a tree
standing alone among the whispers of immensity.

Pearl shells cast up by the sea
on death's barren beach,—
a magnificent wastefulness of creative life.

The sunlight opens for me the word's gate,
love's light its terasure.

My life like the reed with ist stops,
has its play od colours
through the gaps in its hopes and gains.

Let not my thanks to thee
rob my silence of its fuller homage.

Life's aspirations come
in the guise of children.

The faded flower sighs
that the spring has vanished for ever.

In my life's garden
my wealth has been of the shadows and lights
that are never gathered and stored.

The fruit that I Have gained for ever
is thet which thou hast accepted.

The jasmine knows the sun to be her brother
in the heaven.

Light is young, the ancient light;
shadows are of the moment, they are born old.

I feel that the ferry of my songs at the day's end
will brong me across to the other shore
from where I shall see.

The butterfly flitting from flower to flower
ever remains mine,
I lose the one that is netted by me.

Your voice, free bird, reaches my sleeping nest,
and my drowsy wings dream
of a voyage to the light
above the clouds.

I miss the meaning of my own part
in the play of life
because I know not of the parts
that others play.

The flower sheds all its petals
and finds the fruit.

I leave my songs behind me
to the bloom of the ever-returning honeysuckles
and the joy of the wind from the south.

Dead leaves when they lose themselves in soil
take part in the life of the forest.

The mind ever seeks its words
from its sounds and silence
as the sky from its darkness and light.

The unseen dark plays on his flute
and the rhythm of light
eddies into stars and suns,
into thoughts and reams.

My songs are to sing
that I have loved Thy singing.

When the voice of the Silent touches my words
I know him and therefore I know myself.

My last salutations are to them
who knew me imperfect and loved me.

Love's gift cannot be given,
it waits to be accepted.

When death comes and whispers to me,
'Thy days are ended,'
let me say to him, 'I have lived in love
and not in mere time.'
He will ask, 'Will thy songs remain?'
I shall say, 'I know not, but this I know
that often when I sang I found my eternity.'

'Let me light my lamp,'
say the star,
'and never debate
if it will help to remove the darkness.'

Before the end of my journey
may I reach within myself
the one which is the all,
leaving the outer shell
to float away with the drifting multitude
upon the current of chance and change.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

The Undying One' - Canto I

MOONLIGHT is o'er the dim and heaving sea,--
Moonlight is on the mountain's frowning brow,
And by their silvery fountains merrily
The maids of Castaly are dancing now.
Young hearts, bright eyes, and rosy lips are there,
And fairy steps, and light and laughing voices,
Ringing like welcome music through the air--
A sound at which the untroubled heart rejoices.
But there are hearts o'er which that dancing measure
Heavily falls!
And there are ears to which the voice of pleasure
Still vainly calls !
There's not a scene on earth so full of lightness
That withering care
Sleeps not beneath the flowers, and turns their brightness
To dark despair!

Oh! Earth, dim Earth, thou canst not be our home;
Or wherefore look we still for joys to come?
The fairy steps are flown--the scene is still--
Nought mingles with the murmuring of the rill.
Nay, hush! it is a sound--a sigh--again!
It is a human voice--the voice of pain.
And beautiful is she, who sighs alone
Now that her young and playful mates are gone:
The dim moon, shining on her statue face,
Gives it a mournful and unearthly grace;
And she hath bent her gentle knee to earth;
And she hath raised her meek sad eyes to heaven--
As if in such a breast sin could have birth,
She clasps her hands, and sues to be forgiven.
Her prayer is over; but her anxious glance
Into the blue transparency of night
Seems as it fain would read the book of chance,
And fix the future hours, dark or bright.
A slow and heavy footstep strikes her ear--
What ails the gentle maiden?--Is it fear?
Lo! she hath lightly raised her from the ground,
And turn'd her small and stag-like head around;
Her pale cheek paler, and her lips apart,
Her bosom heaving o'er her beating heart:
And see, those thin white hands she raises now
To press the throbbing fever from her brow--

In vain--in vain! for never more shall rest
Find place in that young, fair, but erring breast!
He stands before her now--and who is he
Into whose outspread arms confidingly
She flings her fairy self?--Unlike the forms
That woo and win a woman's love--the storms
Of deep contending passions are not seen
Darkening the features where they once have been,
Nor the bright workings of a generous soul,
Of feelings half conceal'd, explain the whole.
But there is something words cannot express--
A gloomy, deep, and quiet fixedness;
A recklessness of all the blows of fate--
A brow untouch'd by love, undimm'd by hate--
As if, in all its stores of crime and care,
Earth held no suffering now for him to bear.
Yes--all is passionless--the hollow cheek
Those pale thin lips shall never wreathe with smiles;
Ev'n now, 'mid joy, unmoved and sad they speak
In spite of all his Linda's winning wiles.
Yet can we read, what all the rest denies,
That he hath feelings of a mortal birth,
In the wild sorrow of those dark bright eyes,
Bent on that form--his one dear link to earth.
He loves--and he is loved! then what avail
The scornful words which seek to brand with shame?

Or bitterer still, the wild and fearful tale
Which couples guilt and horror with that name?
What boots it that the few who know him shun
To speak or eat with that unworthy one?
Were all their words of scorn and malice proved,
It matters not--he loves and he is loved!
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
'Linda! my Linda!' thus the silence broke,
And slow and mournfully the stranger spoke,
'Seat we ourselves upon this mossy bed,
Where the glad airs of heaven wave o'er thy head,
And thou shalt hear the awful tale which ne'er
Hath yet been breathed, save once, to mortal ear.
And if, my Linda--nay, love, tremble not--
Thou shudder'st to partake so dark a lot--
Go--and be happy in forgetfulness,
And take--I'd bless thee if my tongue could bless,'
There was that sudden sinking of the tone
That lingers in our memory when alone,
And thrills the heart to think how deep the grief
Which sues no pity--looks for no relief.
Oh! deep, beyond the feeble power of tears,
Such scene will dwell within our souls for years;
And it will seem but yesterday we heard
The faltering pause--the calm but broken word;

Saw the averted head, where each blue vein
Swell'd in its agony of mental pain;
And heard the grief confess'd:--no, not confess'd,
But struggling burst convulsive from the breast!
'Isbal,' that gentle voice half-murmuring said,
As from his shoulder she upraised her head;
'Thou knowest I love thee. When I came to-night
I had resolved thy future, dark or bright,
Should still be mine--Beloved--so must it be,
For I have broke a fearful vow for thee.
This morning he who calls himself my brother
(Oh! can he be the child of my sweet mother?)
Pleaded once more for him--that hated friend
Whose bride I was to be; I could but bend
To the cold earth my faint and trembling knee,
And supplicate, with woman's agony,
That he would spare me--but an hour--a day--
I clasp'd my brother's knees--that brother said me nay!
He held a poinard to my shrinking heart,
And bade me breathe the vow--
Never in life or death from him to part
Who is--my husband now.
Isbal, we were betrothed; my lips in fear
Pronounced those words--but oh! my heart was here-
Here--in the calm cold moonlight by thy side,
Here--where the dark blue waters gently glide,

Here--in my childhood's haunts, now ev'n more dear.
Than in those happy days, for thou art near.
Yes--while the unheeded vow my faint lip spoke,
Recall'd the echo which thy tones awoke--
Thy image rose between me and the shrine;
Surely the vow before it breathed was thine.
To-morrow's sun proud Carlos claims his wife;
To-morrow's sun shall see my span of life
Devoted unto thee--thy tale can make
No lot I would not share for thy sweet sake;
No--Ere I hear it, let love's fond vow be--
To have no earth--no heaven--no hope but thee!
Now tell me all.'--Again that gentle head
With dewy eyes and flushing cheek is laid
Upon his arm; and with a thrill of pain
The broken thread is thus renew'd again:
'From the first hour I saw thee, on that night
When dancing in the moonbeam's chequer'd light
With those young laughing ones who now are gone,
By this same fountain which is murmuring on;
When my deep groan burst through the music's sound,
And that soft eye went glancing, startled, round--
From that sweet hour, when pity seem'd to move,
I loved thee--as the wretched only love.
Oft since, when in the darkness of my day
I sit, and dream my wretched life away;

In the deep silence of my night of tears,
When Memory wakes to mourn for vanish'd years;
Shunn'd--scorn'd--detested--friendless and alone,
I've thought of thee--and stifled back my groan!
I've come in daylight, and have flung me down
By the bright fountain's side,
Chased with dear thoughts of thee each gloomy frown,
And bless'd my promised bride.
I've come when stormy winds have howl'd around
Over the yielding flowers,
Bending their gentle heads unto the ground,
And thought of thee for hours.
I've come--my Linda knows that I have come
When the soft starlight told
That she had left her haughty brother's home,
And hearts, as dead and cold
As the chill waters of a moonless sea,
For the light dance and music's revelry.
With gay and loving maids; and I have watch'd
Till one by one those soft steps have departed,
And my young mournful Linda hath been snatch'd
To the sear bosom of the broken-hearted!
Linda, there is a land--a far dark land,
Where on this head the red avenging hand
Fell with its heaviest bolts--When watching by
The bitter cross of Him of Calvary

They stood who loved and did believe in Him,
I said, while all around grew dark and dim--'
'Isbal, dear Isbal!' shriek'd the affrighted maid,
'For that dear Saviour's sake--for him who said
He died for sinners--mock me not, I pray--
Oh! yet, beloved, those words of Death unsay!'
She hung upon his bosom, and look'd up
Into those dark wild eyes with grief and fear.
Alas! poor maiden, 'twas a bitter cup
To drink from hands which love had made so dear.
As a knell o'er the river
Flings its lingering tone,
Telling of joys for ever
Lost and gone:
As the murmuring sound
Of a slow deep stream,
Where the sullen shadows round
Reject each sunny beam:
So o'er the maiden's spirit, like a moan,
Falls the deep sameness of that strange calm tone.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
'I tell thee centuries have pass'd away,
And that dark scene is still like yesterday;
The lurid clouds roll'd o'er each failing head,
The Godlike dying, and the guilty dead:

And awful signs were seen, and I was there--
Woman, I was--or wherefore my despair?
I'll whisper thee--* * * *
* * * * * *
Linda, my Linda! start not thus away--
My brain is 'wilder'd--what, love, did I say?
Forget the words--forget! Eternal God!
Is not this earth the same which then I trod?
Do not the stars gleam coldly from above,
Mocking the lips that dare to talk of love?
I know--I feel it cannot be forgot;
Yet, oh! forsake me not--forsake me not!
Didst thou not bid me tell thee all? oh! rest
Still on this worn and sad and guilty breast;
Whatever sins the eye of Heaven may see,
Its last faint throb alone will end its love for thee!
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
I stood awhile, stifling my gasping breath,
Fearfully gazing on that scene of death:
Then with a shuddering groan of pain I shrouded
My straining eyes, and turn'd, a cowering worm,
To either side where grimly death had clouded
The image of his maker in man's form.
On one low cross a dark and fearful brow,
On which the dews of death are standing now,

Shows black despair:
And on the other, though the eye be dim,
And quivering anguish in each stiffening limb,
Mercy and hope are there!
Then rose the wailing sound of woman's woe
Appealing unto Heaven,
And sinners bow'd their heads, and bent them low,
And howl'd to be forgiven--
And I glanced madly round--One after one
They stole away, and I was left alone--
I--the Undying One, in that dim night!
Oh! words can never tell my soul's affright;
The sickening, thrilling, dark, and fainting fear
That rose within my breast:--I seem'd to hear
A thousand voices round; I could not pray,
But fled in solitary shame away.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
Linda! thou wilt not think that after this
Dark hour of agony,
A day, a moment ev'n, of fever'd bliss
Could yet remain for me:
But so it was, a wild and sudden hope
Sprung in my heart--if that my life could cope
With sickness and with time, I yet might be
Happy through half an immortality.

I sat at festal boards, and quaff'd red wine,
And sang wild songs of merriment and mirth;
And bade young sparkling eyes around me shine,
And made a guilty paradise of earth.
I built me palaces, and loved to dwell
'Mongst all which most the eager heart rejoices;
Bright halls, where silvery fountains rose and fell,
And where were ringing light and cheerful voices;
Gay gardens where the bowery trees around
Their leafy branches spread,
And rosy flowers upon the mossy ground
Their honey'd perfume shed.
But yet the curse was on me; and it came
Tainting my life with pains like hell's dark flame.
The flowers withered:
One after one
Death's cold hand gathered,
Till all were gone:
And the eyes that were sparkling
With pleasure's ray,
Lay cold and darkling
Till judgment-day.
Lonely and weeping
A few were left,
Of those who were sleeping
Too soon bereft ;

But they soon were lying
Beneath the sod--
And I, the Undying,
Remained--with God!
And the silvery fountains went murmuring on,
But the voices of music and pleasure were gone.
And I could not bear the banquet-room,
Reminding me ever of my doom;
When the purple goblet I tried to quaff,
In my ear there rang some forgotten laugh;
And when the lay I sought to pour,
Voices came round me which sang no more.
Yea! when I saw some lovely form,
I thought how soon it must feed the worm--
And shrank from the touch it left behind,
As if I were not of human kind;
Or that the thing I could not save
Were withering, then, in the cold dark grave.
I wandered through my halls
Broken-hearted:--
Is it my voice which calls
On the departed,
With that stern, sad tone?
Where are, beloved in vain,
Your countless numbers?
May you not wake again

From your dark slumbers?
Am I to be alone?
Oh! let but one return--
One fond one only;
Raise up the heavy urn,
Life is so lonely--
I ask no more of Heaven.
The mocking echoes round,
My words repeating
With their dim dreary sound,
Forbid our meeting--
I may not be forgiven!
Linda! my Linda! those, and those alone
Who have lived on, when more than life was gone;
And being yet young, look to the heavy years
Which are to come--a future all of tears--
Those only who have stood in some bright spot
With those beloved ones who shared their lot,
And stand again in that sweet fairy scene,
When those young forms are as they had not been;
When gazing wildly round, some fancied word
Strikes on the listening spirit, and it seems
As if again those gentle tones were heard
Which never more can sound except in dreams--
Those only who have started and awoke
In anguish'd pain,

And yearn'd (the gladsome vision being broke)
To dream again--
Can feel for me. It seem'd a little day
In which that generation pass'd away;
And others rose up round me, and they trod
In those same streets--upon the selfsame sod
They loved and were beloved: they ate--they laugh'd--
And the rich grape from ancient goblets quaff'd:
But I remain'd alone--a blighted thing,
Like one sere leaf amid the flowers of spring!
My sick worn heart refused to cling again
To dreams that pass away, and yearnings vain.
Thou canst not think how strange:--how horribly strange
It was to see all round me fade and change,
And I remain the same!--I sat within
My halls of light, a thing of care and sin;
The echoes gave me back the wild sad tone
Of every deep and solitary moan;
Fearful I gazed on the bright walls around,
And dash'd the mocking mirrors to the ground.
And when I wander'd through the desert crowd
Of all my fellow-men, I could have bow'd
And grovell'd in the dust to him who would
Have struck my breast, to slay me where I stood.
They shrank from me as from some venomous snake
Watchfully coil'd to spring from the dark brake

On the unwary. Fearful--fearful tales
Pass'd on from sire to son, link'd with my name,
With all the awful mystery which veils
A tale of guilt, and deepens its dark shame
They shrank from me, I say, as, gaunt and wild
I wander'd on through the long summer's day
And every mother snatch'd her cowering child
With horror from my solitary way!
I fled from land to land, a hunted wretch;
From land to land those tales pursued me still:
Across the wide bright sea there seem'd to stretch
A long dark cloud my fairest hopes to kill.
I grew a wanderer: from Afric's coast,
Where gaily dwelt the yet unfetter'd black,
To Iran, of her eager sons the boast,
I went along my dim and cheerless track.
O'er the blue Mediterranean, with its isles
And dancing waves, and wildly pleasing song,
By Lusitania's land of sun and smiles,
My joyless bark in darkness sail'd along!
On many a soil my wandering feet have trod,
And heard the voice of nations worship God.
Where the dim-minded Heathen raised his prayer
To some bright spirit dwelling in mid-air,
I have stood by, and cursed the stiffen'd knee
Which would not bow like him to Deity.

Where the proud Ghebir, still at morning hour,
Confess'd a God of glory and of power
In the red sun that roll'd above his head,
There have I been, and burning tear-drops shed.
Where the Mahometan, through ages gone,
In his dark faith hath blindly wander'd on;
Where the incredulous Jew, yet unforgiven,
Still vainly waits the crucified of Heaven;
Where the meek Christian raises to the skies
His clasping hands, and his adoring eyes,
And prays that God--the All-seeing God--will bless
His heart with purity of holiness;
Where rosy infancy in smiles was kneeling,
With murmuring, half-imperfect word, appealing
Unto the giver of all good--where joy
Its tearful thanks return'd, and bless'd the day
When should be tasted bliss which cannot cloy,
And tears in heaven's own light be dried away;
And where the frantic voice of love's despair
Sends forth its thrilling sound, half wail, half prayer;
In every temple, and at every shrine
I've stood and wish'd the darkest worship mine--
So I might see, howe'er the beam mistaking,
Some smile from Heaven upon a heart that's breaking!

''Twas on God's glad and holy sabbath day,
When the wide world kneels down at once to pray,--
When every valley, every mountain sod,
Sends its faint tribute to the mighty God,
And the low murmurings of the voiceless airs
Waft on the echo of a thousand prayers--
I stood on England's fresh and fairy ground.
All lay in dewy stillness far around,
Save the soft chiming of the village bell,
Which seem'd a tale of love and peace to tell.
I stood among the tombs--and saw the crowd
Of Christians enter in;
Each meek and humble head they gently bow'd,
And chased the thoughts of sin.
I watch'd them-one by one they onward pass'd
And from my sight were gone,
The welcome opening door received the last
And left me there alone.
The blood rush'd thickly to my panting heart,
And as I turn'd me sorrowing to depart,
An inward voice seem'd whispering--'Sinner, go!
And with those meek adorers bend thee low.'
I trembled--hesitated--reach'd the door
Through which the pious crowd had ceased to pour:
A sudden faintness came upon me there,
And the relaxing limb refused to bear.

I sank upon a stone, and laid my head
Above the happy and unconscious dead;
And when I rose again, the doors were closed!
In vain I then my fearful thoughts opposed;
Some busy devil whisper'd at my heart
And tempted me to evil.--'Shall the dart
Of pain and anguish (thus I wildly said,)
Fall only on my persecuted head?
Shall they kneel peaceful down, and I stand here
Oppress'd with horror's sick and fainting fear?
Forbid it, Powers of Hell!'--A lowly cot
Stood near that calm and consecrated spot:
I enter'd it:--the morning sunshine threw
Its warm bright beams upon the flowers that grew
Around it and within it--'twas a place
So peaceful and so bright, that you might trace
The tranquil feelings of the dwellers there;
There was no taint of shame, or crime, or care.
On a low humble couch was softly laid
A little slumberer, whose rosy head
Was guarded by a watch-dog; while I stood
In hesitating, half-repentant mood,
My glance still met his large, bright, watchful eye,
Wandering from me to that sweet sleeper nigh.
Yes, even to that dumb animal I seem'd
A thing of crime: the murderous death-light gleam'd

Beneath my brow; the noiseless step was mine;
I moved with conscious guilt, and his low whine
Responded to my sigh, whose echo fell
Heavily--as 'twere loth within that cot to dwell.
My inmost heart grew sick--I turn'd me where
The smouldering embers of a fire still were;.
With shuddering hand I snatch'd a brand whose light
Appear'd to burn unnaturally bright;
And then with desperate step I bore that torch
Unto the chapel's consecrated porch!
A moment more that edifice had fired
And all within in agony expired;
But, dimly swelling through my feverish soul,
A chorus as from heaven's bright chancel came,
Dash'd from my madden'd lips Guilt's venom'd bowl,
And quench'd in bitter tears my heart's wild flame.
The pealing organ, with the solemn sound
Of countless voices, fill'd the air around;
And, as I leant my almost bursting brow
On the cold walls, the words came sad and slow
To me, the exiled one, who might not share
The joyfulness of their prayer.
Sadly I watch'd till through the open door
The crowd of worshippers began to pour;
The hour was over--they had pray'd to Heaven,
And now return'd to peaceful homes forgiven;

While I--one 'wildering glance I gave around
Upon that sunny, consecrated ground;
The warbling birds, whose little songs of joy
The future and the past can ne'er alloy;
The rosy flowers, the warm and welcome breeze
Murmuring gently through the summer trees,
All--all to me was cursed--I could not die!
I stretch'd my yearning arms unto the sky,
I press'd my straining fingers on my brow,
(Nothing could cool its maddening pulses now,)
And flung me groaning by a tombstone there
To weep in my despair!
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
Long had I wept: a gentle sound of woe
Struck on my ear--I turn'd the cause to know.
I saw a young fair creature silently
Kneeling beside a stone,
A form as bright as man would wish to see,
Or woman wish to own;
And eyes, whose true expression should be gladness,
Beam'd forth in momentary tears of sadness,
Showing like sun-shine through a summer rain
How soon 'twill all be bright and clear again.
I loved her!--
* * * * * *

In truth she was a light and lovely thing,
Fair as the opening flower of early spring.
The deep rose crimson'd in her laughing cheek,
And her eyes seem'd without the tongue to speak;
Those dark blue glorious orbs!--oh! summer skies
Were nothing to the heaven of her eyes.
And then she had a witching art
To wile all sadness from the heart;
Wild as the half-tamed gazelle,
She bounded over hill and dell,
Breaking on you when alone
With her sweet and silvery tone,
Dancing to her gentle lute
With her light and fairy foot;
To our lone meeting-place
Stealing slow with gentle pace,
To hide among the feathery fern;
And, while waiting her return,
I wander'd up and down for hours--
She started from amid the flowers,
Wild, and fresh, and bright as they,
To wing again her sportive way.

'And she was good as she was fair;
Every morn and every even

Kneeling down in meekness there
To the Holy One of Heaven;
While those bright and soul-fraught eyes
With an angel's love seem'd burning,
All the radiance of blue skies
With an equal light returning.
The dream of guilt and misery
In that young soul had never enter'd;
Her hopes of Heaven--her love of me,
Were all in which her heart had centred:
Her longest grief, her deepest woe,
When by her mother's tomb she knelt,
Whom she had lost too young to know
How deep such loss is sometimes felt.

'It was not grief, but soft regret,
Such as, when one bright sun hath set
After a happy day, will come
Stealing within our heart's gay home,
Yet leaves a hope (that heart's best prize)
That even brighter ones may rise.
A tear, for hours of childhood wept;
A garland, wove for her who slept;
A prayer, that the pure soul would bless
Her child, and save from all distress;

A sigh, as clasp'd within her own
She held my hand beside that stone,
And told of many a virtue rare
That shone in her who slumber'd there--
Were all that clouded for a while
The brightness of her sunny smile.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *
It was a mild sweet evening, such
As thou and I have sometimes felt
When the soul feels the scene so much
That even wither'd hearts must melt;
We sat beside that sacred place--
Her mother's tomb; her glorious head
Seem'd brightening with immortal grace,
As the impartial sun-light shed
Its beams alike on the cold grave,
Wandering o'er the unconscious clay,
And on the living eyes which gave
Back to those skies their borrow'd ray.
'Isbal, beloved!' 'twas thus my Edith spoke,
(And my worn heart almost to joy awoke
Beneath the thrill of that young silver tone
'Isbal, before thou call'st me all thine own,
I would that I might know the whole
Of what is gloomy in thy soul.

Nay, turn not on me those dark eyes
With such wild anguish and surprise.
In spite of every playful wile,
Thou know'st I never see thee smile;
And oft, when, laughing by thy side
Thou think'st that I am always gay,
Tears which are hanging scarcely dried
By thy fond kiss are wiped away.
And deem me not a child; for though
A gay and careless thing I be,
Since I have loved, I feel that, oh!
I could bear aught--do aught for thee!'

'What boots it to record each gentle tone
Of that young voice, when ev'n the tomb is gone
By which we sat and talk'd? that innocent voice,
So full of joy and hope, that to rejoice
Seem'd natural to those who caught the sound!
The rosy lips are moulder'd under ground:
And she is dead--the beautiful is dead!
The loving and the loved hath pass'd away,
And deep within her dark and narrow bed
All mutely lies what was but breathing clay.
* * * * * *
* * * * * *

Why did I tell the wildly horrible tale?--
Why did I trust the voice that told me she
Could bear to see beyond the lifted veil
A future life of hopeless misery?--
I told her all-- * * * *
There was a long deep pause.
I dared not raise my eyes to ask the cause,
But waited breathlessly to hear once more
The gentle tones which I had loved of yore.
Was that her voice?--oh God!--was that her cry?
Were hers those smother'd tones of agony?
Thus she spoke; while on my brow
The cold drops stood as they do now :--
'It is not that I could not bear
The worst of ills with thee to share:
It is not that thy future fate
Were all too dark and desolate:
Earth holds no pang--Hell shows no fear
I would not try at least to bear;
And if my heart too weak might be,
Oh! it would then have broke for thee!
No, not a pang one tear had cost
But this--to see thee, know thee, lost!'

'My parch'd lips strove for utterance--but no,
I could but listen still, with speechless woe:
I stretch'd my quivering arms--'Away! away!'
She cried, 'and let me humbly kneel, and pray
For pardon; if, indeed, such pardon be
For having dared to love--a thing like thee!'

'I wrung the drops from off my brow;
I sank before her, kneeling low
Where the departed slept.
I spoke to her of heaven's wrath
That clouded o'er my desert path,
I raised my voice and wept!
I told again my heart's dark dream,
The lighting of joy's fever'd beam,
The pain of living on;
When all of fair, and good, and bright;
Sank from my path like heaven's light
When the warm sun is gone.
But though 'twas pity shone within her eye,
'Twas mingled with such bitter agony,
My blood felt chill.
Her round arms cross'd upon her shrinking breast,
Her pale and quivering lip in fear compress'd
Of more than mortal ill,
She stood.--'My Edith!--mine!' I frantic cried;
'My Edith!--mine!' the sorrowing hills replied;

And the familiar sound so dear erewhile,
Brought to her lip a wild and ghastly smile.
Then gazing with one long, long look of love,
She lifted up her eyes to heaven above,
And turned them on me with a gush of tears:
Those drops renew'd my mingled hopes and fears.
'Edith!--oh! hear me!' With averted face
And outspread arms she shrank from my embrace.
'Away!--away!'--She bent her shuddering knee,
Bow'd her bright head--and Edith ceased to be!
She was so young, so full of life,
I linger'd o'er the mortal strife
That shook her frame, with hope--how vain!
Her spirit might return again.
Could she indeed be gone?--the love
Of my heart's inmost core!--I strove
Against the truth.--That thing of smiles,
With all her glad and artless wiles--
She, who one hour ago had been
The fairy of that magic scene!--
She, whose fond playful eye such brilliance shed,
That laughter-loving thing--could she be cold and dead?--
I buried her, and left her there;
And turn'd away in my despair.

'And Evening threw her shadows round
That beautiful and blessed ground,
And all the distant realms of light
Twinkled from out the dark blue night.
So calmly pure--so far away
From all Earth's sorrows and her crimes,
The gentle scene before me lay;
So like the world of olden times,
That those who gazed on it might swear
Nothing but peace could enter there.
And yet there lay ungrown, untrod,
The fresh and newly turned-up sod,
Which cover'd o'er as fair a form
As ever fed the noxious worm.
There, but an hour ago--yea, less,
The agony and bitterness
Of human feelings, wrought so high
We can but writhe awhile and die,
Troubled the peace around; and sent
Wild shrieks into the firmament.
How strange the earth, our earth, should share
So little in our crime or care!
The billows of the treacherous main
Gape for the wreck, and close again
With dancing smiles, as if the deep
Had whelm'd not with eternal sleep

Many and many a warm young heart
Which swell'd to meet, and bled to part.
The battle plain its verdant breast
Will show in bright and sunny rest,
Although its name is now a word
Through sobs, and moans, and wailing heard;
And many, mourn'd for from afar,
There died the writhing death of war.
Yea, ev'n the stream, by whose cool side
Lay those who thirsted for its tide,
Yearning for some young hand of yore,
Wont in bright hours with smiles to pour
The mantling wine for him whose blood
Is mixing with the glassy flood--
Ev'n that pure fountain gushes by
With all its former brilliancy;
Nor bears with it one tint to show
How crimson it began to flow.
And thus an echo takes the tone
Of agony: and when 'tis gone,
Air, earth, and sea forget the sound,
And all is still and silent round.
And thus upon each cherish'd grave
The sunbeams smile, the branches wave;
And all our tears for those who now are not,
Sink in the flowery turf--and are forgot!

* * * * * *
* * * * * *
And I return'd again, and yet again,
To that remember'd scene of joy and pain:
And ev'n while sitting by the early tomb
Of her who had deserved a better doom,
Her laughing voice rang in my ear,
Her fairy step seem'd coming near,
Until I raised my heavy eyes:
Then on the lone and desert spot I bow'd,
And hid my groaning head, and wept aloud.'

The stranger paused--and Linda gently wept
For him who lived in pain--for her who slept;
And clung to him, as if she fear'd that fate
Would strike him there and leave her desolate.
He spoke--and deaf her ear to all below,
Save the deep magic of that voice of woe!

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Sonnet: Let Me Be …

God, let me be a bird upon a tree,
That hurts no one but sings melodious songs;
And leads a life, doing no sin, carefree;
And yet, some put it to the fiery-tongs!

God, let me be a pretty butterfly,
That flies in search of nectar all its life;
And like a lazy man, let me not die,
And sleep log-like in filth, despite soul’s strife.

God, let me be a snail bellying across;
And carrying on its back, its house of shell!
What is the use of human life with gloss,
Leading a sinful life/ landing in Hell?

God, let me be like humble servant Job
With forbearance, and get my Heavenly robe.

6-4-2001

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

October

IT is no joy to me to sit
On dreamy summer eves,
When silently the timid moon
Kisses the sleeping leaves,
And all things through the fair hushed earth
Love, rest--but nothing grieves.
Better I like old Autumn
With his hair tossed to and fro,
Firm striding o'er the stubble fields
When the equinoctials blow.

When shrinkingly the sun creeps up
Through misty mornings cold,
And Robin on the orchard hedge
Sings cheerily and bold,
While the frosted plum
Drops downward on the mould;--
And as he passes, Autumn
Into earth's lap does throw
Brown apples gay in a game of play,
As the equinoctials blow.

When the spent year its carol sinks
Into a humble psalm,
Asks no more for the pleasure draught,
But for the cup of balm,
And all its storms and sunshine bursts
Controls to one brave calm,--
Then step by step walks Autumn,
With steady eyes that show
Nor grief nor fear, to the death of the year,
While the equinoctials blow.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

I walked into this Vista

I walked into this Vista
to work there
and the garden was beautiful,
but in such a place
I did not want to stay
and nobody will get me
into such a place.

The people that work there
were decent, friendly and god fearing
and a patient followed me,
as if I am the leader
in a game
and a woman walk stark naked
and asked me
where the president’s office is
and if I came from the parliament?

That this Vista is a wonderful place
when life’s walls fold in on you
and life loose all its meaning
and you hear voices in your mind,
nobody can deny,
and I saw people find God there
while there humanity
and life tried to destroy them.


a Polish doctor wanted to know from me
why the grass in summer
is yellow brown and dried out,
while the winter chill was biting me
and I wondered
from which Siberia she comes.

I saw there that specialist doctors
are also people
and there were rumours
that some of the doctors
had more serious problems
than their patients
and that one has a drawer
full of crumbled paper
which he hoards like a rat.
and I wondered how a doctor
that lived next to the hospital
opened his garden gate with his feet.

Electric shocks that goes straight through you
and hypnotic therapy
can pass me by
and the day that I walked out of there,
it was better
than escaping from a jail
and I could comprehend
Ingrid Jonker’s poem much better
and maybe the damage
was more in her soul
than in that Valkenburg.

[Reference: Ontvlugting by Ingrid Jonker.]

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share
Emily Dickinson

That after Horror—that 'twas us

286

That after Horror—that 'twas us—
That passed the mouldering Pier—
Just as the Granite Crumb let go—
Our Savior, by a Hair—

A second more, had dropped too deep
For Fisherman to plumb—
The very profile of the Thought
Puts Recollection numb—

The possibility—to pass
Without a Moment's Bell—
Into Conjecture's presence—
Is like a Face of Steel—
That suddenly looks into ours
With a metallic grin—
The Cordiality of Death—
Who drills his Welcome in—

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

That's The Beauty Of It All

Why is it,
Neither of you wear wedding rings...
To express your undying love for one another?
Do you not want this known?
I know you are together.
But so many people do not.

'Not at all. We do not want that known.
We have decided years ago,
To keep our happiness to ourselves.
If people knew what we shared,
By the wearing of wedding rings...
They would be the first ones,
To try to break us up.'

But...
How would people know,
You are in a commited relationship?
And you are as devoted and happy as you say?
That is not fait to those seeking mates.
Or available companions.

'That's the beauty of it all that has been noticed.
If people think we are not commited...
To a relationship,
They spend no time trying to break it up.
People only go after what they suspect they can't have.
And they leave us alone believing we are not wanted,
By anyone.'

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

You Are Translating True Love In The Language That You Like

it is amazing
here you are translating the meaning of true in your own language.
i am amazed.
you love poetry after all? you still love
true love

i hear the cracks of your broken heart
i pretend it is nothing to me

i see how you bleed
your white shirt bloody
and your hands
cupping some drops of blood
from your bosom

i pretend i have not seen such a pitiful sight
i have my own broken hearts too
but you will never know that

you have contempt on my lost loves
because you never understand that true love can also be

more than what you expect
it can be more than one
it can be many

the way i love are like ten fingers
the caress of ten fingers

they move like a tribe of love
on the thighs of my beloved
on her breasts

how can i be so cruel living with just
a finger to love just one?

now i make a poem about true love
the one that uses so much of myself
to love not just one
but all

yes, do not be surprised
to love all of humanity and humanity
has not just one set of breasts and thighs

oh, there are hundreds of them
and from their milk a thousand children shall live

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Year After Year: A Love Song.

YEAR after year the cowslips fill the meadow,
Year after year the skylarks thrill the air,
Year after year, in sunshine or in shadow,
Rolls the world round, love, and finds us as we were.

Year after year, as sure as birds' returning,
Or field-flowers' blossoming above the wintry mould,
Year after year, in work, or mirth, or mourning,
Love we with love's own youth, that never can grow old.

Sweetheart and ladye-love, queen of boyish passion,
Strong hope of manhood, content of age began;
Loved in a hundred ways, each in a different fashion,
Yet loved supremely, solely, as we never love but one.

Dearest and bonniest! though blanched those curling tresses,
Though loose clings the wedding-ring to that thin hand of thine,--
Brightest of all eyes the eye that love expresses!
Sweetest of all lips the lips long since kissed mine!

So let the world go round with all its sighs and sinning,
Its mad shout o'er fancied bliss, its howl o'er pleasures past:
That which it calls love's end to us was love's beginning:--
I clasp my arms about thy neck and love thee to the last.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

After All Is Said And Done

I thought that you were working late
But that was when I made my first mistake
As you walk into the hall and sort all the clothes upon the floor
It was too late
She said she didn't understand
And then she cried she took the ring from off her hand
Then I knew it was over as she turned to me and said
Our love is dead

After all is said and done
Knowing I'll be only one
Till I head it out going out of the way
All alone under the sun
Baby come tomorrow
Are we moving on?

I know what I did was wrong
But you don't know what you've got until it's gone
If there were something I could say to you to make you change your mind
You know I'll try

After all is said and done
Knowing I'll be only one
Till I head it out going out of the way
All alone under the sun
Baby come tomorrow
I'm not to live without you
Baby come tomorrow
Cause all I got is here with now
But all I wanna live without

After all is said and done
Knowing I'll be only one
Till I head it out going out of the way
All alone under the sun
Baby come tomorrow
Baby come tomorrow
Baby come tomorrow
Are we moving on?

song performed by BBMak from Into Your HeadReport problemRelated quotes
Added by Lucian Velea
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Happiness, Happiness, You are that happiness!

Happiness, happiness,
is it everywhere?
The mirage that life shows,
That runs away and laughs somewhere,
On those run after it,
Soiling hands by toiling with trifles,
Hoping for catching flying birds,
Letting those in their hands!

And that hope make it happen,
Faith that makes all the difference,
only a step at time can make it possible,
Possible, that were looking impossible
Happiness is not in running for some thing great,
When one learn nothing is great,
It will be too late to be happy!
The colourful stars not give us anything,
wonderfull clouds may not give us anything,
Colourful singing birds,
Colourful fragment flowers,
Or trees with full of fruits,
Green mountains and mountain dews,
nothing they give than that strange impulses!


Some flickering thoughts makes us happy,
And some thoughts, selfish and ego centred,
Such thoughts and actions when click!

All that happiness is untrue,
It is a curse in disguise,
But sometime sorrow that brings out the best of one,
And sorrow is blessing in disguise!

Delusion of ego throws in illusion,
Most of us are schizophrenic,
And ignorant, about happiness,
Tree if swing to wind may break or fall!

Either we should be elastic, and we should be rigid,
Yet happiness is neither earned,
Happiness is not gained,
Yet can be lost easily
Paradise is neither can be gained nor attained,
Yet easily can be lost and slip into hell!

Soul is that in paradise and happiness reside,
Soul is that in which all sorrow and hell too reside,
Self is that abode of one where no hell or no paradise lies,
But Self is paradise of paradise,
The supreme paradise is that SELF
out of reach of all paradoxes
Parity
and beyond all parodies!

Happiness is your another name,
As god is your another name,
Your name and shape
is painted on that colourless,
Vacuum,
Which is the source of all happiness.
All life and your dreams!
Look at yourself, thy nature is happiness,
And you can only make all happy,
You art that, who can be all the time happy
What ever happen anywhere,
You are that,
You are that bring all happiness,
All, all, all happiness to all!

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Grey(A Sad Tale)

I tell a tale I know not, of a dame I knew not, whom like me they know not, in an age we were known not.
It was many, many a year ago that a young lass lived whom ye may know by the name of Jasmine Désolé. She lived with no other thought but to love and be loved in return. Sadly, this was not the case of her life, nor the purpose of her miserable existence. Though at the time she thought she was born by love to love and be loved. In no time, a cynic emerged as life viewed through a prism reflected an iridescence of ugly greys. In a kingdom called MIND, she was queen and king the same, the world was mean, her mind kinder. So for the rest of her days she lived in her head. She had no friends. And though a beauty, no lover. Her first kiss opened her to an array of creatures called MEN. But as each frog turned into a prince, they fled the scene as with the speed of lightning being chased by sound. Jasmine was opened and welcomed to a palace called SADNESS whose chef was named DEPRESSION. She ate and ate and in no time, she was robust and drowning in a river anciently known as LONELINESS. Time built her a tunnel and all her massively wrong choices shut its door. Sitting on the floor sobbing quietly to her maker many, many a year before this year, Jasmine pondered on why life was so meaningless to her and why at no point had the lines fallen unto her in pleasant places. She felt like a fish outside water; death being water and life the shore. It marked the beginning of ten or most likely more attempts to exit earth. After each attempt she dusted her feet and saw life as a rainbow. In few months, the novelty wore off and life went back to normal - grey. She ran from home when she fell short of their expectation to a land in which she knew no one nor anyone her and when she finally returned home to a family with adjusted expectations, she ran again to a different land with the same tale. Sadness had filled her soul and her eyes were the only window of escape.
If you ever see Jasmine Désolé in the world unnamed, you will know her by her big large brown eyes which bookmark sorrow. These eyes once browsed across a threnody by a great poet and rained heavily at the words:
'Was there no star that could be sent,
No watcher in the firmament,
No angel from the countless host
That loiters round the crystal coast,
Could stoop to heal that only child'. She had the heart of a child and often wondered why God had never stooped to help her. On this one fateful day however, she sat on her balcony, stared into her past and all she had ever been. She thought for hours. Then drugged herself to kick the bucket. And for the next five days, the bucket lay stone cold. Her mum held her cold feet as she lay motionless on the hospital bed and with a hundred teardrops prayed. Two thousand hands of a thousand angels tried to resuscitate her. Four thousand teardrops of the thousand angels kept her body warm. On the fifth day she came back to life with the breath of God and a phrase that said: 'This isn't everything you are.'
Days and months and years went by, all acquaintances had become strangers, 'possibilities' made nothing. And on one busy day, noise gave way to silence as she declared 'I DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD'. An extremist by all makings she was, as she swung from full faith in God to utter disbelief in his ability. God had smiled but frayed her days. She was a light to others but knew it not, the light she shone on others cast a shadow on her own life. If tears were a trophy she'd have a fountain. If life were a choice, she'd choose death over and over again. Nothing worked nor made sense. She wished she knew, at any point knew, how life should be lived. She sought not love anymore, neither knew how to. Aches and pains and loneliness and regrets and all her baggages transmogrified into one giant molten scar known as her. No more hopes, no more dreams. She strolled through earth, to fulfill her days, having but one hope and one only. That one day in her walk through the world, she'd stumble into a garden that was bursting into life. On her tombstone it was written: 'One thing lingers, love remains love. And if ever you're unsure, just remember, God remains God'. As all whose lives her light had touched gathered in their thousands, it rained and poured. All stood still and cried and poured. Tears and rain, her journey's tale. Many and many a time had she walked in the rain and cried with it. She loved rain, she loved God, she loved...
I write a tale I know not, of a dame who knew me not, whom like me they know not, in an age we are not known.
It was many, many a year ago that a young lass lived whom ye may know by the name of Jasmine Désolé. 

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Aurora Leigh (excerpts)

[Book 1]
I am like,
They tell me, my dear father. Broader brows
Howbeit, upon a slenderer undergrowth
Of delicate features, -- paler, near as grave ;
But then my mother's smile breaks up the whole,
And makes it better sometimes than itself.
So, nine full years, our days were hid with God
Among his mountains : I was just thirteen,
Still growing like the plants from unseen roots
In tongue-tied Springs, -- and suddenly awoke
To full life and life 's needs and agonies,
With an intense, strong, struggling heart beside
A stone-dead father. Life, struck sharp on death,
Makes awful lightning. His last word was, `Love --'
`Love, my child, love, love !' -- (then he had done with grief)
`Love, my child.' Ere I answered he was gone,
And none was left to love in all the world.
There, ended childhood. What succeeded next
I recollect as, after fevers, men
Thread back the passage of delirium,
Missing the turn still, baffled by the door ;
Smooth endless days, notched here and there with knives ;
A weary, wormy darkness, spurr'd i' the flank
With flame, that it should eat and end itself
Like some tormented scorpion. Then at last
I do remember clearly, how there came
A stranger with authority, not right,
(I thought not) who commanded, caught me up
From old Assunta's neck ; how, with a shriek,
She let me go, -- while I, with ears too full
Of my father's silence, to shriek back a word,
In all a child's astonishment at grief
Stared at the wharf-edge where she stood and moaned,
My poor Assunta, where she stood and moaned !
The white walls, the blue hills, my Italy,
Drawn backward from the shuddering steamer-deck,
Like one in anger drawing back her skirts
Which supplicants catch at. Then the bitter sea
Inexorably pushed between us both,
And sweeping up the ship with my despair
Threw us out as a pasture to the stars.
Ten nights and days we voyaged on the deep ;
Ten nights and days, without the common face
Of any day or night ; the moon and sun
Cut off from the green reconciling earth,
To starve into a blind ferocity
And glare unnatural ; the very sky
(Dropping its bell-net down upon the sea
As if no human heart should 'scape alive,)
Bedraggled with the desolating salt,
Until it seemed no more that holy heaven
To which my father went. All new and strange
The universe turned stranger, for a child.
Then, land ! -- then, England ! oh, the frosty cliffs
Looked cold upon me. Could I find a home
Among those mean red houses through the fog ?
And when I heard my father's language first
From alien lips which had no kiss for mine
I wept aloud, then laughed, then wept, then wept,
And some one near me said the child was mad
Through much sea-sickness. The train swept us on.
Was this my father's England ? the great isle ?
The ground seemed cut up from the fellowship
Of verdure, field from field, as man from man ;
The skies themselves looked low and positive,
As almost you could touch them with a hand,
And dared to do it they were so far off
From God's celestial crystals ; all things blurred
And dull and vague. Did Shakspeare and his mates
Absorb the light here ? -- not a hill or stone
With heart to strike a radiant colour up
Or active outline on the indifferent air.
I think I see my father's sister stand
Upon the hall-step of her country-house
To give me welcome. She stood straight and calm,
Her somewhat narrow forehead braided tight
As if for taming accidental thoughts
From possible pulses ; brown hair pricked with grey
By frigid use of life, (she was not old
Although my father's elder by a year)
A nose drawn sharply yet in delicate lines ;
A close mild mouth, a little soured about
The ends, through speaking unrequited loves
Or peradventure niggardly half-truths ;
Eyes of no colour, -- once they might have smiled,
But never, never have forgot themselves
In smiling ; cheeks, in which was yet a rose
Of perished summers, like a rose in a book,
Kept more for ruth than pleasure, -- if past bloom,
Past fading also.
She had lived, we'll say,
A harmless life, she called a virtuous life,
A quiet life, which was not life at all,
(But that, she had not lived enough to know)
Between the vicar and the country squires,
The lord-lieutenant looking down sometimes
From the empyrean to assure their souls
Against chance-vulgarisms, and, in the abyss
The apothecary, looked on once a year
To prove their soundness of humility.
The poor-club exercised her Christian gifts
Of knitting stockings, stitching petticoats,
Because we are of one flesh after all
And need one flannel (with a proper sense
Of difference in the quality) -- and still
The book-club, guarded from your modern trick
Of shaking dangerous questions from the crease,
Preserved her intellectual. She had lived
A sort of cage-bird life, born in a cage,
Accounting that to leap from perch to perch
Was act and joy enough for any bird.
Dear heaven, how silly are the things that live
In thickets, and eat berries !
I, alas,
A wild bird scarcely fledged, was brought to her cage,
And she was there to meet me. Very kind.
Bring the clean water, give out the fresh seed.
She stood upon the steps to welcome me,
Calm, in black garb. I clung about her neck, --
Young babes, who catch at every shred of wool
To draw the new light closer, catch and cling
Less blindly. In my ears, my father's word
Hummed ignorantly, as the sea in shells,
`Love, love, my child.' She, black there with my grief,
Might feel my love -- she was his sister once,
I clung to her. A moment, she seemed moved,
Kissed me with cold lips, suffered me to cling,
And drew me feebly through the hall into
The room she sate in.
There, with some strange spasm
Of pain and passion, she wrung loose my hands
Imperiously, and held me at arm's length,
And with two grey-steel naked-bladed eyes
Searched through my face, -- ay, stabbed it through and through,
Through brows and cheeks and chin, as if to find
A wicked murderer in my innocent face,
If not here, there perhaps. Then, drawing breath,
She struggled for her ordinary calm
And missed it rather, -- told me not to shrink,
As if she had told me not to lie or swear, --
`She loved my father, and would love me too
As long as I deserved it.' Very kind.

[Book 5]

AURORA LEIGH, be humble. Shall I hope
To speak my poems in mysterious tune
With man and nature ? -- with the lava-lymph
That trickles from successive galaxies
Still drop by drop adown the finger of God
In still new worlds ? -- with summer-days in this ?
That scarce dare breathe they are so beautiful ?--
With spring's delicious trouble in the ground,
Tormented by the quickened blood of roots,
And softly pricked by golden crocus-sheaves
In token of the harvest-time of flowers ?--
With winters and with autumns, -- and beyond,
With the human heart's large seasons, when it hopes
And fears, joys, grieves, and loves ? -- with all that strain
Of sexual passion, which devours the flesh
In a sacrament of souls ? with mother's breasts
Which, round the new-made creatures hanging there,
Throb luminous and harmonious like pure spheres ? --
With multitudinous life, and finally
With the great escapings of ecstatic souls,
Who, in a rush of too long prisoned flame,
Their radiant faces upward, burn away
This dark of the body, issuing on a world,
Beyond our mortal ? -- can I speak my verse
Sp plainly in tune to these things and the rest,
That men shall feel it catch them on the quick,
As having the same warrant over them
To hold and move them if they will or no,
Alike imperious as the primal rhythm
Of that theurgic nature ? I must fail,
Who fail at the beginning to hold and move
One man, -- and he my cousin, and he my friend,
And he born tender, made intelligent,
Inclined to ponder the precipitous sides
Of difficult questions ; yet, obtuse to me,
Of me, incurious ! likes me very well,
And wishes me a paradise of good,
Good looks, good means, and good digestion, -- ay,
But otherwise evades me, puts me off
With kindness, with a tolerant gentleness, --
Too light a book for a grave man's reading ! Go,
Aurora Leigh : be humble.
There it is,
We women are too apt to look to One,
Which proves a certain impotence in art.
We strain our natures at doing something great,
Far less because it 's something great to do,
Than haply that we, so, commend ourselves
As being not small, and more appreciable
To some one friend. We must have mediators
Betwixt our highest conscience and the judge ;
Some sweet saint's blood must quicken in our palms
Or all the life in heaven seems slow and cold :
Good only being perceived as the end of good,
And God alone pleased, -- that's too poor, we think,
And not enough for us by any means.
Ay, Romney, I remember, told me once
We miss the abstract when we comprehend.
We miss it most when we aspire, -- and fail.
Yet, so, I will not. -- This vile woman's way
Of trailing garments, shall not trip me up :
I 'll have no traffic with the personal thought
In art's pure temple. Must I work in vain,
Without the approbation of a man ?
It cannot be ; it shall not. Fame itself,
That approbation of the general race,
Presents a poor end, (though the arrow speed,
Shot straight with vigorous finger to the white,)
And the highest fame was never reached except
By what was aimed above it. Art for art,
And good for God Himself, the essential Good !
We 'll keep our aims sublime, our eyes erect,
Although our woman-hands should shake and fail ;
And if we fail .. But must we ? --
Shall I fail ?
The Greeks said grandly in their tragic phrase,
`Let no one be called happy till his death.'
To which I add, -- Let no one till his death
Be called unhappy. Measure not the work
Until the day 's out and the labour done,
Then bring your gauges. If the day's work 's scant,
Why, call it scant ; affect no compromise ;
And, in that we have nobly striven at least,
Deal with us nobly, women though we be.
And honour us with truth if not with praise.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

Egotism

YE powers fantastic ! goblin, sylph and fay,
Whose subtle forms no laws material sway ;
Ethereal essences, that dart and glide
Wherever pleasure or caprice may guide ;
Who leap with equal ease, if ye are bid,
A lady's thimble and a pyramid,
And scale, alike regardless of a fall,
The parlour fender and the Chinese wall,
Slip through a key-hole, 'neath the listed door,
Or from the smallest crevice in the floor ;
Or steer your way (and man's devices mock)
Through the dark mazes of a patent lock ;--
Of you I sing not--but my theme shall be
Of things as quick and volatile as ye,
--Those busy, subtle pronouns, I and Me.
Unsought, and unexpected they appear ;
No barriers heed they, and no laws revere;
But wind and penetrate, with dextrous force,
Through all the cracks and crannies of discourse.

Of those with whom self proves the darling theme,
Not all indulge it in a like extreme ;
Some have the sense to cover it no doubt ;
Would they had sense enough to root it out !
We therefore bring, as first upon the list,
The loud, loquacious, vulgar egotist ;
Whose I's and Me's are scattered in his talk,
Thick as the pebbles on a gravel walk.
Whate'er the topic be, through thick and thin
Himself is thrust, or squeezed, or sidled in.
Conceiving thus his own importance swells,
He makes himself a part of all he tells ;
And still to this he winds the subject round :
Suppose his friend is married, sick, or drowned,
He brought about the match, he lets you know ;
Told him about Miss B. a year ago ;
Or never shall forget, whate'er ensues,
How much he felt when first he heard the news.
A horseman thrown, lay weltering in the mud;
He thought of something that would stop the blood.
A neighhour had a quarrel with his wife ;
He never saw such doings in his life !
A fire broke out at midnight in the town ;
He started up, threw on his flannel gown,
Seized an old hat full twice as large as his,
And said, says he , 'I wonder where it is !'
Was doubtful if 'twere best to stay or go,
And trembled like a leaf, from top to toe.
In vain at times, some modest stander-by,
Catching a pause to make his brief reply,
Cries, 'dear!' or 'only think!' or, 'so did I ;'
For he, by no such obstacles deterred,
Runs on, must tell his tale, and will be heard.

Woe to themselves, and woe to small and great,
When two good egotists are tête-à-tête !
A battle this, though not of swords, but tongues,
And he the victor who has strongest lungs.
Too eager each in what himself recites,
To see how little interest it invites,
Each takes the attention his companion shows,
For pleasure in the story as it goes ;
Though judging by himself, he might have known,
He is but waiting to begin his own,
Watching some gap in the opponent's speech
To force it in--like soldiers at a breach.

Few talkers can detain themselves to weigh
The true impression made by what they say ;
And of all talkers, egotists are last
E'en to suspect that they may talk too fast,
But often, while pursuing their career,
Rejoiced that while they speak the rest must hear,
Some dry observer, whom they scarce perceive,
Sits smiling in his philosophic sleeve,
Impelled (while others carelessly condemn)
To blush for human nature and for them.

But 'tis not only with the loud and rude
That self betrays its nature unsubdued ;
Polite attention and refined address
But ill conceal it, and can ne'er suppress :
One truth, despite of manner, stands confest--
They love themselves unspeakably the best.

Many monopolists of words have been
Unconscious quite of their besetting sin ;
Of strong susceptibility possessed,
Enraptured oft, and oft as much distrest,
They deem themselves, nor others deem them less,
Affectionate and feeling to excess :
The charge of selfishness, or unconcern
In other's weal, with indignation spurn,
And think their failing and their weakest part,
Is having, as the phrase is--too much heart.
But tender hearts as well were hearts of stone,
If what they feel is for themselves alone.

Have you no knowledge of this species ? then
Take fair Matilda for a specimen ;
Compare the sketch with faces you have known,
And ere you quite discard it--with your own.
What ! has Matilda , then, no heart to feel
Generous emotion for another's weal ?
Oh yes, she has--the doubt she would declare
Hard and unjust to her , beyond compare ;
Her friends' and neighbours' interests to forget
She were the last to bear the blame--but yet
Engrossed by cares and interests of her own,
In fact , she gladly lets her friends alone ;
Too eager, and too busy to reflect,
What others may, and what they do expect.

Calm observation, and acute survey
Of others and ourselves, are swept away
By that strong, rude velocity of thought,
Which meets no proper barrier where it ought,
But rushes on, impetuous and unstemmed :--
Astonished, and abashed, and self-condemned,
Would stand Matilda , could she once be shown
Not other people's failings, but her own ;
And see, how borne on that perpetual tide,
She thinks and talks of self, and none beside :
Then might she learn to check its rapid force,
Abate its swiftness, and divert its course,
Make it through other fields meandering go,
And drain, in time, the selfish channel low.

Matilda's friend, as few besides had done,
(A patient, quiet, unpretending one)
Sits cheerful and unwearied day by day,
To hear, as usual, what she has to say.
By long experience, now at length, she learns
To drop all reference to her own concerns ;
The insipid 'dear !' or 'sure !' too well declares
Impatience in discussing those affairs ;
And then, the eager tone and altered brow,
How much her own are dearer--so that now,
--Whether her heart be aching, or it swell
With some sweet hope, 'twould be a joy to tell--
She cheeks the inclination, to attend
To some new project of her eager friend :
--How she intends, as soon as winter's o'er,
To make a passage to the nursery door,
Enlarge the parlour where she loves to sit,
And have the Turkey carpet made to fit ;
Or, how she means next spring to go to town,
And then to have her aunt and uncle down.
Or if more intellectual in her mood,
How she employs her hours of solitude ;
--Her plans, how much they fail, or how succeed ;
What last she read, and what she means to read ;
What time she rises, and what time retires,
And how her deeds fall short of her desires.
All this is very well, perhaps you cry ;
True, if her friend might whisper, 'so do I.'

Whene'er from home Matilda has to go,
With the same theme her letters overflow ;
Sheet after sheet in rapid course she sends,
Brimful and crossed, and written at both ends,
About her journey, visits, feelings, friends :
Still, still the same !--or if her friend had cast
Down in a modest postscript in her last,
Some line, which to transactions may refer,
Of vital consequence, perhaps, to her--
Matilda , in reply, just scrawls, you know
Along that slip on which the seal must go,
'I'm glad, or grieved, to hear of so and so.'

How can she pardon such unkind neglects ?
Why 'tis poor human nature, she reflects ;
Judging with kindness, candour, and good sense,
Takes it from whence it comes, without offence :
And she, with meekness gifted to endure
The evil she laments, but cannot cure,
Too wise to censure or resent the ill,
Sees it, and smiles, as even friendship will ;
Resolves to watch herself with double toil,
And root the selfish weeds from nature's soil.
--And so should we, for we are selfish all,
Without one real exception since the fall
Good nature and good sense in some, 'tis true,
Do much the vicious temper to subdue ;
While some unwittingly allow its growth,
Who yet might fair pretensions make to both.
Of all impostors he least wisdom shows
Who can and does upon himself impose.
Self-knowledge of all knowledge is the best ;
By most pretended, but by few possessed.
That true philosophy not understood,
The aim to do ourselves or others good
Proves weak ;--for they who to themselves are blind,
Rarely attain the knowledge of mankind.
But self-acquaintance is a certain guide ;
That key unlocks ten thousand hearts beside ;
There, in a glass, the common cast is shown ;
--He knows the world who truly knows his own.

The tattered wretch, who scrapes his idle tunes
Through our dull streets on rainy afternoons,
The lawless nuisance of the king's highway,
Houseless and friendless, wander where he may :
Suspected, spurned, unbound by social ties,
With none to mourn or miss him when he dies ;
Still, to himself, that vagrant man appears
The central object of revolving spheres,
Not less than he, who sweeps with regal robe
Half the circumference of the peopled globe.
All seem for him, that eye or thought can view,
The ground he treads, and heaven's ethereal blue,
The sheltering hovel he has gained from far,
And the hint glimmer of the utmost star.
Nought he regards by art or nature made,
But as it serves his pleasure or his trade ;
Mankind, should he define them, this the sense,
--Things bearing purses--purses yielding pence :
The ranging doors that meet his practised eye,
But places seem where he may knock and try ;
Where'er he stands, creation's dearest spot ;--
For what were all to him if he were not ?

'Twas thus I mused as he was passing by,
Roused by the tones of his harsh minstrelsy ;
And smiled and marvelled that such low estate
Wrought not indifference in him to his fate :
Till, unperceived, my roving thoughts had flown,
Far from his fate and feelings, to my own ;
And deep engraven in my heart I saw
The same strong influence and imperious law.
Self, self, with all the weight of woe it bears,
All its infirmities, and wants, and cares,
Its untold bitterness, its shame and ill--
Why is it magnified and worshipped still ?
When shall we break that bondage and be free--
See our own interests but as others see ?
And feel, as down the ceaseless stream we pass,
But viewless atoms in the mighty mass !

To view ourselves with stern and stoic eye,
Calm and unbiassed, like a stander-by,
Keeping aloof, and looking from above,
Detached from interest, prejudice, self-love,--
This, while it humbles, yet exalts the mind
Above the common level of mankind.
The soul that knows its mean and bounded length
Makes some approach to grandeur and to strength :
Conscious of littleness it learns to tower,
Knowing its feebleness, attains to power :
This makes the grand distinction that befalls,
Between the mind that soars and that which crawls.
That is a vulgar mind, which never learns
The just dimensions of its own concerns ;
But sunk in petty interests, private cares,
Fancies vast import in its small affairs.
True, the philosopher himself is caught
Absorbed, at times, in low and selfish thought ;
But here the difference lies, that he can smile
At that contracted temper all the while ;
And thence his soul, with glad transition, springs
Tired and disgusted up to nobler things.

Poor human nature ! whither should it flee,
Undone, infirm, and weak beyond degree,
But to the well of life ? that healthful tide,
Whose waters, when by humble faith applied,
Raise up the impotent, restore the blind,
And cure the inveterate maladies of mind.
He knows, who fashioneth our hearts the same,
Every minutia of their inmost frame ;
To which in that blest volume he has writ,
The line and precept admirably fit :
They reach, not actions only, but the thought
That tends to folly--not alone are brought
Against the act that does our neighbour wrong,
--They teach the egotist to hold his tongue.

How vainly may we follow and digest
What human wits and moralists attest ;
E'en those who studied human nature most,
Shakespeare and Johnson, Locke and all the host ;
And even pore in vain on that bright page
Which teaches and consoles from age to age ;
Unless we come imploring help and cure,
Guilty and impotent, and blind and poor,
Asking for 'all things new,' by faith and prayer ;
--Not with some little failing here and there,
Which, proving inconvenient where it stands,
We wish completely taken off our hands ;--
But seek (accounting all beside it loss)
A thorough renovation at the cross.
Then would the healing streams of mercy wind
Throughout the sickly mazes of the mind ;
The weed of selfishness would droop and die,
And plants of charity their place supply ;
That fruitful stream, refreshing as it flows,
Would make the desert blossom as the rose.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

The Stealing Of The Mare - I

In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate! He who narrateth this tale is Abu Obeyd, and he saith:
When I took note and perceived that the souls of men were in pleasure to hear good stories, and that their ears were comforted and that they made good cheer in the listening, then called I to mind the tale of the Agheyli Jaber and his mare, and of all that befell him and his people. For this is a story of wonderful adventure and marvellous stratagems, and a tale which when one heareth he desireth to have it evermore in remembrance as a delight tasted once by him and not forgotten.
And the telling of it is this:
The Emir Abu Zeyd the Helali Salameh was sitting one morning in his tent with the Arabs of the Beni Helal and the Lords of the tribe. And lo, there appeared before them in the desert the figure of one wandering to and fro alone. And this was Ghanimeh. And the Emir Abu Zeyd said to his slave Abul Komsan, ``Go forth thou, and read me the errand of this fair Lady and bring me word again.'' And Abul Komsan went forth as he was bidden, and presently returned to them with a smiling countenance, and he said, ``O my Lord, there is the best of news for thee, for this is one that hath come a guest to thee, and she desireth something of thee, for fate hath oppressed her and troubles sore are on her head. And she hath told me all her story and the reason of her coming, and that it is from her great sorrow of mind; for she had once an husband, and his name was Dagher abul Jud, a great one of the Arabs. And to them was born a son named Amer ibn el Keram, and the boy's uncle's name was En Naaman. And when the father died, then the uncle possessed himself of all the inheritance, and he drove forth the widow from the tribe; and he hath kept the boy as a herder of his camels; and this for seven years. And Ghanimeh all that time was in longing for her son. But at the end of the seventh year she returned to seek the boy. Then Naaman struck her and drove her forth. And Amer, too, the boy, his nephew, is in trouble, for Naaman will not now yield to the boy that he should marry his daughter, though she was promised to him, and he hath betrothed her to another. And when Amer begged him for the girl (for the great ones of the tribe pitied the boy, and there had interceded for him fifty--and--five of the princes), he answered, `Nay, that may not be, not though in denying it I should taste of the cup of evil things. But, if he be truly desirous of the girl and would share all things with me in my good fortune, then let him bring me the mare of the Agheyli Jaber,--and the warriors be witness of my word thereto.' But when the men of the tribe heard this talk, they said to one another: `There is none able to do this thing but only Abu Zeyd.' And thus hath this lady come to thee. And I entreat thee, my lord, look into her business and do for her what is needful.''
And when Abu Zeyd heard this word of his slave Abul Komsan he rejoiced exceedingly, and his heart waxed big within him, and he threw his cloak as a gift to Abul Komsan, and he bade him go to the Lady Ghanimeh and treat her with all honour, for, ``I needs,'' said he, ``must see to her affairs and quiet her mind.'' So Abul Komsan returned to her, and he built for her a tent, and did all that was needed. And Abu Zeyd bade him attend upon her and bring her dresses of honour and all things meet for her service.
Then began the Narrator to sing:

Saith the hero Abu Zeyd the Helali Salameh:
(Woe is me, my heart is a fire, a fire that burneth!)
On a Friday morning once, I sat with three companions,
I in my tent, the fourth of four, with the sons of Amer.
Sudden I raised my eyes and gazed at the breadth of the desert,
Searching the void afar, the empty hills and the valleys;
Lo, in the midmost waste a form, where the rainways sundered,
Wandering uncertain round in doubt, with steps of a stranger.
Turned I to Abul Komsan, my slave, and straightway I bade him,
``Ho, thou master of signs, expound to us this new comer.''
Abul Komsan arose and went, and anon returning,
``Fortune fair,'' said he, ``I bring and a noble token.
O my Lord Abu Zeyd,'' he cried, and his lips were smiling,
``Here is a guest of renown for thee, a stranger, a lady,
One for the wounding of hearts, a dame of illustrious lineage,
One whose heart is on fire with grief, and sorely afflicted.''
The dark one threw off his cloak to Abul Komsan in guerdon,
Even I, Abu Zeyd Salameh, the while my companions
Rose with me all as I rose in my place, we four rejoicing,
Hassan and Abu Kheyl Diab, and the Kadi Faïd.
And first of them Hassan spake and said, ``Is my name not Hassan?
Sultan and chief and lord am I of the lords of the Bedu.
Shall not my tent stand free to all, to each guest that cometh?
So God send her to me, be they hers, two thousand camels.''
And Abu Kheyl uprose, and with him the Kadi Faïd.
``And I,'' said he, ``no less will give to this dame two thousand.''
Nor was the Kadi slow to speak: ``Though this pen and paper
All my poor fortune be,'' said he, ``I will name her thirty.''
But I, Salameh, said, ``By my faith, these gifts were little;
Mine be a larger vow.'' And I swore an oath and I promised
All that she would to bring, nay, all her soul demanded,
Even a service of fear, a thing from the land of danger.
And thus they sat in discourse till the hour of noon was upon them,
And the caller called to prayer, and the great ones prayed assembled;
And these too in their place, and they stood in prayer together.
And when they had made an end of praises and prostrations,
Back to the tent came they, and still behold the lady
Wandering in doubt uncertain there with steps of a stranger.
Then to the desert went I forth, and I called and I shouted,
``Marhaba, welcome to thee,'' I cried, ``thou illustrious lady,
Welcomes as many be to thee as the leagues thou hast wandered.''
And she, ``I seek the hero, the Knight of Helal ibn Amer,
Bring me to him, the renowned of might, the hero of Amer.''
And I, ``I hear and obey, though I am not of the great ones.
Raise thy eyes and behold him here, the Sultan Hassan,
And with him Abu Musa Diab, the light of Zoghbat,
Best of the swordsmen he, and our learned Kadi Faïd,
The reader of the word, the learnedest of the learned,
And with them Aziz ed Din and El Hajin and Amer,
Fifty and five of the best, Fulano and Fulano.
These be men of their word; asking thou shalt obtain it:
Ask thou all that thou wilt, even all thy soul desireth.''
But she, ``Nay, thou dost mock, thou slave and idle talker,
Not of these would I hear nor of other than Salameh,
Salameh Abu Zeyd, Chief of Helal ibn Amer.
Why art thou mute of him for whom my soul is kindled?''
And I, ``Myself am he, the Helali Salameh,
Welcome to thee, and welcome as wide as thou hast wandered.''
And she prayed, ``O Abu Zeyd, behold me here thy stranger.
A boon I ask, O dark one, a mighty deed of daring.
Thy suppliant am I, thou son of Risk Salameh,
From the distress of time behold my tears are flowing.
For this one boon behold me pleading here before thee.
I have tasted Fortune's change. I plead by the day of judgment.''
And I, ``What is thy want, O Lady, that I grant it?
All, to the cord, I give, so thy tears cease from flowing.''
And she, ``O man admired! A great one was my husband,
A knight, a prince of lineage, Abul Jud Dagher,
A man of mighty wealth, stored up in many houses,
Wealth whose sole catalogue were a library of volumes.
He dying left behind with me our one son Amer,
To me and to the hate of an ill--minded uncle.
For when that Abul Jud was gathered to his fathers,
And sent from his loved home to death's unjoyful dwellings,
Behold this Naaman, this man he called his brother,
In arms against our house, he with his evil--doers,
Raiding all our wealth and making Amer captive.
Thus weeping did I flee, and seven long years an exile
Bore I his heart with me like a bird ever flying.
And then, the seven years done, to the dear place forbidden
Turned I in my love and my sweet son's remembrance.
And when he saw me near he called to me, `O mother,
Behold me in what straits I lie through men of evil
(And these may God requite!). Seven years behold me outcast,
Herding the flocks afar each day in the lone desert,
And in my uncle's tent nightly a guest unwelcome.
Yet was there one with me, his daughter fair, Betina,
Whom I, as of little count, might wander with unquestioned
Until but few days since. But now another suitor
Asking her hand hath come, and with him brave companions.
And for this suitor's sake am I forbid her presence.
And what then, O my mother, shall I do, my mother,
Who have neither riches, though my soul is generous,
Nor wile nor stratagem in my life's little wisdom?
How shall I win to her, this fair child of my uncle?
How shall I answer her, her greetings night and morning?
Thus spake he, and I heard, and with a heart of anger
Went I forth with him my son, and to the tribesmen
Pleaded in every tent his cause, we two as suppliants,
Calling on all their chiefs to give the hand of succour.
And fifty and five of them were those who lent agreement,
This one and that with joy, Fulano and Fulano.
And with them Selman was, Abul Jud el Aser.
And Jafferi was there, Khalifa ibn Nasser,
And many more of note. And they rose and went assembled
To the council of the king, and found him there in judgment
Set with his valiant men, and meting out obedience.
And when En Naaman saw them he cried to them in welcome:
`Sit ye, O chiefs, with me,' and made their place beside him,
And when he found them mute and of their manner bashful,
`Ye have come,' said he, `to speak of him, my brother's orphan.'
And they, `Ay, of a truth. We ask for him Betina.'
And he, `Be short of words. From me ye shall get no lying.
Nasser hath come for her, and with him a brave dowry.
This one, what hath he (speak) beside his beggar's portion?'
And they, `But we will give. So be thy mind unburdened,
And his, too, of the doubt. We stand to thee his guarants.'
And Selman spake, `Behold it, to the last coin, his dowry.'
And Jafferi, `Nor less, things needed for the wedding.
All that thou wilt we bring, a gift to thee and Amer.'
Then answered them the hero, En Naaman, the chieftain:
`List to my word, O chiefs, O generous--minded princes.
Let him but bring one thing, the thing my soul desireth,
So shall I stand content, nor ask a further dowry,
Necklace, nor chain, nor ring, nor ornament of silver,
Nor silk, nor broidered robe, and, lo, my word is on it.
He shall be to me a son, and I will love him truly,
More than a brother's son, in all things first and foremost.
But come he empty--handed, the girl shall be another's.'
And so with a pious phrase the hero left them wondering.
And straightway questioned all, `And what is this, O Naaman?'
Laughing he made reply, `The mare of Agheyli Jaber.'
Then on the chiefs assembled there fell as it were a tremor,
And each man looked at each, nor made they further pleading,
Only with whispered looks the thought passed round in silence,
`This thing can no man bring, nor he were a Jinn in cunning,
Not though on wings he flew.' But Amer in his longing,
Swore he the deed would do for sake of her, Betina.
And when I learned it all, how it had fared in council,
From my poor head the wits, O Sheykh Salameh, wandered.
And since that day of trouble (listen, O Helali!)
Around the world of men have I in anguish wandered,
Seeking of kings and chiefs and princes of the Arabs
Which one shall help our case, and all in turn have answered,
`This is a deed of deeds meet only for Salameh.
There is but one thy help, he of Helal ibn Amer.'
Thus have I come to thee on my soul's faith, Salameh,
Thee the champion proved of all whose hearts are doubting,
Thee the doer of right, the scourge of the oppressor,
Thee the breeze in autumn, thee the winter's coolness,
Thee the morning's warmth after a night of watching,
Thee the wanderer's joy, well of the living water,
Thee to thy foeman's lips as colocynth of the desert,
Thee the river Nile, in the full day of his flooding,
When he hath mounted high and covereth the islands.
Behold me thus for thee clothed in the robes of amber.
Beyond thee there is none save the sole Lord of pity.
Thou art my last appeal, O Helali Salameh,
Glory of the Arabs, beauty of all beholders.''
Thus then spoke Ghanimeh, and Abu Zeyd made answer,
``Nay, but a thousand welcomes, O thou mother of Amer,
Welcomes as many be as the leagues thy feet have wandered.
Fear thou nought at our hand, nay, only but fair dealing.''
And the hero Abu Zeyd called to his servant loudly:
``Forth, O Abul Komsan, nor let thy footsteps linger.''
And the slave said, ``Yes and yes, O thou beloved of the Arabs.''
And he, ``Go with this lady and build her a pavilion,
With breadths of perfumed silk, and bid prepare all dainties
That she may eat of the best, and serve her in due honour.
For well it is in life to be of all things generous,
Ere we are called away to death's unjoyful dwellings,
Even of the shoulder meat, that the guests may rise up praising.''
And Abul Komsan went and all things set in order,
Even as he was bid, at the word of his lord Salameh.

Said the Narrator:
And, when the lady had made an end of talking, then agreed the Emir Abu Zeyd to all her desires, and he delivered her into the hand of Abul Komsan, and bade him to do her honour and to serve her in his own person, and not through the persons of others, and he gave him his commands, saying: ``Take charge of her thus and thus, the while I go forth and see diligently to her affairs.'' And Abul Komsan did as he was commanded.
And immediately the Emir Abu Zeyd arose and went into his own tent and took out a herdsman's wallet and a lute, and went forth in disguise as a singer, of the singers of ballads. And thus travestied he came to the Assembly that he might take his leave of the Sultan Hassan and of the rest. And Hassan said to him, ``O Mukheymer, whither goest thou, and what is thy design?'' And Abu Zeyd made answer, ``I am of a mind to journey abroad, even to the land of the Agheyli Jaber.'' And so he disclosed to him all his plan, both what was without and what was within, the manifest and the hidden. And as he spoke behold the Sultan's countenance changed, and he grew pale, and ``Goest thou,'' said he, ``to the land of our enemy, and takest thou from us the light of thy countenance? Leave now this adventure, and we will determine all things as is best for the fair lady.'' But Abu Zeyd said: ``Nay, for the like of me that were a disgrace and a shame, and need is that I go: ay, though I were given to drink of the cup of confusion, yet must I go forward.'' And Diab said, ``May no such disgrace befall thee, nor confusion, for this would be to us all a sign that thou lackedst understanding.'' And Abu Zeyd said, ``Lengthen not thy words.'' And the Kadi calling to the others, said, ``My mind is that you should prevent him, even if it were by force, from his purpose, nor let him go.'' But when Abu Zeyd heard that word of the Kadi his wrath flamed forth, and he said, ``How! would ye deal with me in this wise, with me, the Emir Abu Zeyd?''
Now the ears of the tribe were filled with these sayings, and their mouths with the noise of them. But none was able to turn Abu Zeyd from his way. And his sister Rih came to dissuade him. Yet he listened not to her words, but soothed and consoled her only, and bade her farewell. And he departed on his quest, going by the desolate valleys of the desert.
Then once more the Narrator singeth:

Saith the hero, Abu Zeyd Salameh Mukheymer:
``Needs must I haste abroad to the wide breadths of desert,
What though I fare afar to death's unjoyful dwellings?
Constrained of my guest I go to do her pleasure's bidding.''
And speaking thus he turned and went to his pavilion,
And clothed himself anew in his most cheerful raiment,
Lengthening his kaftan's sleeves and rolling broad his turban,
Till in disguise he stood, a singer of the singers,
With wallet in his hand and lute for his sole armour,
But in his head what store of strategy and cunning!
And thus to the Divan, wherein the chiefs assembled
Crowded all the floor as it were the market of Amer.
And when the Sultan Hassan beheld him at the tent ropes,
Loudly he cried to him, ``Thou goest forth? And whither?
Tell us, O Abu Zeyd, what meaneth this thy venture?''
And I, Salameh, said, ``It is a thing of honour.
A lady came to me, O Hassan, one a stranger,
To ask a deed of me, and my own tongue hath bound me.
For when I cried to her, `What is thy need, O lady?'
She answered, `This I need, the mare of Agheyli Jaber.'''
And the Sultan Hassan hearing, struck his two palms together,
And he cried, ``O Abu Helal, thine is a case of evil.
How hast thou staked thy life? Nay, rather leave this daring.
Thine shall the camels be--ay, even the two thousand.''
And I, ``Alas, for shame! Such failure were unseemly.
Or will I bring the mare or stand no more among ye,
Nay, though my way be death.'' Then answered Abu Musa,
``Madman thou art and fool. This is beyond thy winning,
Not though thy back grew wings.'' And I, ``Forbear vain pleadings.
Base surely were the man less prompt to do than promise.''
But next the Kadi came and fingered at his turban,
And with him Rih my sister, and she called to him, ``Helali,
Wilt thou not stay this champion?'' And I, ``Nay, hold thy clamour
Lest I should cut thee short, even with this sword, my sister.''
And the Kadi: ``Hear, O people. This warrior is foolhardy.
Bring forth the brazen fetters to bind this Father of Patience.''
And hearing, Abu Zeyd was wrath with wrath exceeding,
And his hand set to his sword and ``Ho,'' said he, ``ye mad ones!
Talk ye to lay in fetter me who am named Salameh,
Me, the strength of Helal, who clothed the tribe in glory?
Nay, were it not for shame I would hew ye all in pieces.''
And Rih cried, ``Woe is me, the burning of my trouble!
How shall I quench this flame? Yet shall he take our blessing.''
And I, ``The word farewell is but a wound to the goer.
Cease, therefore, from thy tears.'' And weeping thus she left me.
But I my camel mounted and went my way in silence,
Going by paths unknown in the wide, trackless desert,
Nor turned my head again when they had turned back silent.
Thus was our parting done. Shame rest with the gainsayer.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share
Lewis Carroll

The Hunting of the Snark

Fit the First
THE LANDING

'Just the place for a Snark!' the Bellman cried,
As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
By a finger entwined in his hair.

'Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What i tell you three times is true.'

The crew was complete: it included a Boots--
A maker of Bonnets and Hoods--
A Barrister, brought to arrange their disputes--
And a Broker, to value their goods.

A Billiard-maker, whose skill was immense,
Might perhaps have won more than his share--
But a Banker, engaged at enormous expense,
Had the whole of their cash in his care.

There was also a Beaver, that paced on the deck,
Or would sit making lace in the bow:
And had often (the Bellman said) saved them from wreck,
Though none of the sailors knew how.

There was one who was famed for the number of things
He forgot when he entered the ship:
His umbrella, his watch, all his jewels and rings,
And the clothes he had bought for the trip.

He had forty-two boxes, all carefully packed,
With his name painted clearly on each:
But, since he omitted to mention the fact,
They were all left behind on the beach.

The loss of his clothes hardly mattered, because
He had seven coats on when he came,
With three pairs of boots--but the worst of it was,
He had wholly forgotten his name.

He would answer to 'Hi!' or to any loud cry,
Such as 'Fry me!' or 'Fritter my wig!'
To 'What-you-may-call-um!' or 'What-was-his-name!'
But especially 'Thing-um-a-jig!'

While, for those who preferred a more forcible word,
He had different names from these:
His intimate friends called him 'Candle-ends,'
And his enemies 'Toasted-cheese.'

'His form in ungainly--his intellect small--'
(So the Bellman would often remark)
'But his courage is perfect! And that, after all,
Is the thing that one needs with a Snark.'

He would joke with hyenas, returning their stare
With an impudent wag of the head:
And he once went a walk, paw-in-paw, with a bear,
'Just to keep up its spirits,' he said.

He came as a Baker: but owned, when too late--
And it drove the poor Bellman half-mad--
He could only bake Bridecake--for which, I may state,
No materials were to be had.

The last of the crew needs especial remark,
Though he looked an incredible dunce:
He had just one idea--but, that one being 'Snark,'
The good Bellman engaged him at once.

He came as a Butcher: but gravely declared,
When the ship had been sailing a week,
He could only kill Beavers. The Bellman looked scared,
And was almost too frightened to speak:

But at length he explained, in a tremulous tone,
There was only one Beaver on board;
And that was a tame one he had of his own,
Whose death would be deeply deplored.

The Beaver, who happened to hear the remark,
Protested, with tears in its eyes,
That not even the rapture of hunting the Snark
Could atone for that dismal surprise!

It strongly advised that the Butcher should be
Conveyed in a separate ship:
But the Bellman declared that would never agree
With the plans he had made for the trip:

Navigation was always a difficult art,
Though with only one ship and one bell:
And he feared he must really decline, for his part,
Undertaking another as well.

The Beaver's best course was, no doubt, to procure
A second-hand dagger-proof coat--
So the Baker advised it-- and next, to insure
Its life in some Office of note:

This the Banker suggested, and offered for hire
(On moderate terms), or for sale,
Two excellent Policies, one Against Fire,
And one Against Damage From Hail.

Yet still, ever after that sorrowful day,
Whenever the Butcher was by,
The Beaver kept looking the opposite way,
And appeared unaccountably shy.


Fit the Second
THE BELLMAN'S SPEECH

The Bellman himself they all praised to the skies--
Such a carriage, such ease and such grace!
Such solemnity, too! One could see he was wise,
The moment one looked in his face!

He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.

'What's the good of Mercator's North Poles and Equators,
Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?'
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
'They are merely conventional signs!

'Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
But we've got our brave Captain to thank:
(So the crew would protest) 'that he's bought us the best--
A perfect and absolute blank!'

This was charming, no doubt; but they shortly found out
That the Captain they trusted so well
Had only one notion for crossing the ocean,
And that was to tingle his bell.

He was thoughtful and grave--but the orders he gave
Were enough to bewilder a crew.
When he cried 'Steer to starboard, but keep her head larboard!'
What on earth was the helmsman to do?

Then the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes:
A thing, as the Bellman remarked,
That frequently happens in tropical climes,
When a vessel is, so to speak, 'snarked.'

But the principal failing occurred in the sailing,
And the Bellman, perplexed and distressed,
Said he had hoped, at least, when the wind blew due East,
That the ship would not travel due West!

But the danger was past--they had landed at last,
With their boxes, portmanteaus, and bags:
Yet at first sight the crew were not pleased with the view,
Which consisted to chasms and crags.

The Bellman perceived that their spirits were low,
And repeated in musical tone
Some jokes he had kept for a season of woe--
But the crew would do nothing but groan.

He served out some grog with a liberal hand,
And bade them sit down on the beach:
And they could not but own that their Captain looked grand,
As he stood and delivered his speech.

'Friends, Romans, and countrymen, lend me your ears!'
(They were all of them fond of quotations:
So they drank to his health, and they gave him three cheers,
While he served out additional rations).

'We have sailed many months, we have sailed many weeks,
(Four weeks to the month you may mark),
But never as yet ('tis your Captain who speaks)
Have we caught the least glimpse of a Snark!

'We have sailed many weeks, we have sailed many days,
(Seven days to the week I allow),
But a Snark, on the which we might lovingly gaze,
We have never beheld till now!

'Come, listen, my men, while I tell you again
The five unmistakable marks
By which you may know, wheresoever you go,
The warranted genuine Snarks.

'Let us take them in order. The first is the taste,
Which is meager and hollow, but crisp:
Like a coat that is rather too tight in the waist,
With a flavor of Will-o-the-wisp.

'Its habit of getting up late you'll agree
That it carries too far, when I say
That it frequently breakfasts at five-o'clock tea,
And dines on the following day.

'The third is its slowness in taking a jest.
Should you happen to venture on one,
It will sigh like a thing that is deeply distressed:
And it always looks grave at a pun.

'The fourth is its fondness for bathing-machines,
Which is constantly carries about,
And believes that they add to the beauty of scenes--
A sentiment open to doubt.

'The fifth is ambition. It next will be right
To describe each particular batch:
Distinguishing those that have feathers, and bite,
And those that have whiskers, and scratch.

'For, although common Snarks do no manner of harm,
Yet, I feel it my duty to say,
Some are Boojums--' The Bellman broke off in alarm,
For the Baker had fainted away.


Fit the Third
THE BAKER'S TALE

They roused him with muffins--they roused him with ice--
They roused him with mustard and cress--
They roused him with jam and judicious advice--
They set him conundrums to guess.

When at length he sat up and was able to speak,
His sad story he offered to tell;
And the Bellman cried 'Silence! Not even a shriek!'
And excitedly tingled his bell.

There was silence supreme! Not a shriek, not a scream,
Scarcely even a howl or a groan,
As the man they called 'Ho!' told his story of woe
In an antediluvian tone.

'My father and mother were honest, though poor--'
'Skip all that!' cried the Bellman in haste.
'If it once becomes dark, there's no chance of a Snark--
We have hardly a minute to waste!'

'I skip forty years,' said the Baker, in tears,
'And proceed without further remark
To the day when you took me aboard of your ship
To help you in hunting the Snark.

'A dear uncle of mine (after whom I was named)
Remarked, when I bade him farewell--'
'Oh, skip your dear uncle!' the Bellman exclaimed,
As he angrily tingled his bell.

'He remarked to me then,' said that mildest of men,
' 'If your Snark be a Snark, that is right:
Fetch it home by all means--you may serve it with greens,
And it's handy for striking a light.

' 'You may seek it with thimbles--and seek it with care;
You may hunt it with forks and hope;
You may threaten its life with a railway-share;
You may charm it with smiles and soap--' '

('That's exactly the method,' the Bellman bold
In a hasty parenthesis cried,
'That's exactly the way I have always been told
That the capture of Snarks should be tried!')

' 'But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
And never be met with again!'

'It is this, it is this that oppresses my soul,
When I think of my uncle's last words:
And my heart is like nothing so much as a bowl
Brimming over with quivering curds!

'It is this, it is this--' 'We have had that before!'
The Bellman indignantly said.
And the Baker replied 'Let me say it once more.
It is this, it is this that I dread!

'I engage with the Snark--every night after dark--
In a dreamy delirious fight:
I serve it with greens in those shadowy scenes,
And I use it for striking a light:

'But if ever I meet with a Boojum, that day,
In a moment (of this I am sure),
I shall softly and suddenly vanish away--
And the notion I cannot endure!'


Fit the fourth
THE HUNTING

The Bellman looked uffish, and wrinkled his brow.
'If only you'd spoken before!
It's excessively awkward to mention it now,
With the Snark, so to speak, at the door!

'We should all of us grieve, as you well may believe,
If you never were met with again--
But surely, my man, when the voyage began,
You might have suggested it then?

'It's excessively awkward to mention it now--
As I think I've already remarked.'
And the man they called 'Hi!' replied, with a sigh,
'I informed you the day we embarked.

'You may charge me with murder--or want of sense--
(We are all of us weak at times):
But the slightest approach to a false pretense
Was never among my crimes!

'I said it in Hebrew--I said it in Dutch--
I said it in German and Greek:
But I wholly forgot (and it vexes me much)
That English is what you speak!'

''Tis a pitiful tale,' said the Bellman, whose face
Had grown longer at every word:
'But, now that you've stated the whole of your case,
More debate would be simply absurd.

'The rest of my speech' (he explained to his men)
'You shall hear when I've leisure to speak it.
But the Snark is at hand, let me tell you again!
'Tis your glorious duty to seek it!

'To seek it with thimbles, to seek it with care;
To pursue it with forks and hope;
To threaten its life with a railway-share;
To charm it with smiles and soap!

'For the Snark's a peculiar creature, that won't
Be caught in a commonplace way.
Do all that you know, and try all that you don't:
Not a chance must be wasted to-day!

'For England expects--I forbear to proceed:
'Tis a maxim tremendous, but trite:
And you'd best be unpacking the things that you need
To rig yourselves out for the fight.'

Then the Banker endorsed a blank check (which he crossed),
And changed his loose silver for notes.
The Baker with care combed his whiskers and hair,
And shook the dust out of his coats.

The Boots and the Broker were sharpening a spade--
Each working the grindstone in turn:
But the Beaver went on making lace, and displayed
No interest in the concern:

Though the Barrister tried to appeal to its pride,
And vainly proceeded to cite
A number of cases, in which making laces
Had been proved an infringement of right.

The maker of Bonnets ferociously planned
A novel arrangement of bows:
While the Billiard-marker with quivering hand
Was chalking the tip of his nose.

But the Butcher turned nervous, and dressed himself fine,
With yellow kid gloves and a ruff--
Said he felt it exactly like going to dine,
Which the Bellman declared was all 'stuff.'

'Introduce me, now there's a good fellow,' he said,
'If we happen to meet it together!'
And the Bellman, sagaciously nodding his head,
Said 'That must depend on the weather.'

The Beaver went simply galumphing about,
At seeing the Butcher so shy:
And even the Baker, though stupid and stout,
Made an effort to wink with one eye.

'Be a man!' said the Bellman in wrath, as he heard
The Butcher beginning to sob.
'Should we meet with a Jubjub, that desperate bird,
We shall need all our strength for the job!'


Fit the Fifth
THE BEAVER'S LESSON

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.

Then the Butcher contrived an ingenious plan
For making a separate sally;
And fixed on a spot unfrequented by man,
A dismal and desolate valley.

But the very same plan to the Beaver occurred:
It had chosen the very same place:
Yet neither betrayed, by a sign or a word,
The disgust that appeared in his face.

Each thought he was thinking of nothing but 'Snark'
And the glorious work of the day;
And each tried to pretend that he did not remark
That the other was going that way.

But the valley grew narrow and narrower still,
And the evening got darker and colder,
Till (merely from nervousness, not from goodwill)
They marched along shoulder to shoulder.

Then a scream, shrill and high, rent the shuddering sky,
And they knew that some danger was near:
The Beaver turned pale to the tip of its tail,
And even the Butcher felt queer.

He thought of his childhood, left far far behind--
That blissful and innocent state--
The sound so exactly recalled to his mind
A pencil that squeaks on a slate!

''Tis the voice of the Jubjub!' he suddenly cried.
(This man, that they used to call 'Dunce.')
'As the Bellman would tell you,' he added with pride,
'I have uttered that sentiment once.

''Tis the note of the Jubjub! Keep count, I entreat;
You will find I have told it you twice.
'Tis the song of the Jubjub! The proof is complete,
If only I've stated it thrice.'

The Beaver had counted with scrupulous care,
Attending to every word:
But it fairly lost heart, and outgrabe in despair,
When the third repetition occurred.

It felt that, in spite of all possible pains,
It had somehow contrived to lose count,
And the only thing now was to rack its poor brains
By reckoning up the amount.

'Two added to one--if that could but be done,'
It said, 'with one's fingers and thumbs!'
Recollecting with tears how, in earlier years,
It had taken no pains with its sums.

'The thing can be done,' said the Butcher, 'I think.
The thing must be done, I am sure.
The thing shall be done! Bring me paper and ink,
The best there is time to procure.'

The Beaver brought paper,portfolio, pens,
And ink in unfailing supplies:
While strange creepy creatures came out of their dens,
And watched them with wondering eyes.

So engrossed was the Butcher, he heeded them not,
As he wrote with a pen in each hand,
And explained all the while in a popular style
Which the Beaver could well understand.

'Taking Three as the subject to reason about--
A convenient number to state--
We add Seven, and Ten, and then multiply out
By One Thousand diminished by Eight.

'The result we proceed to divide, as you see,
By Nine Hundred and Ninety Two:
Then subtract Seventeen, and the answer must be
Exactly and perfectly true.

'The method employed I would gladly explain,
While I have it so clear in my head,
If I had but the time and you had but the brain--
But much yet remains to be said.

'In one moment I've seen what has hitherto been
Enveloped in absolute mystery,
And without extra charge I will give you at large
A Lesson in Natural History.'

In his genial way he proceeded to say
(Forgetting all laws of propriety,
And that giving instruction, without introduction,
Would have caused quite a thrill in Society),

'As to temper the Jubjub's a desperate bird,
Since it lives in perpetual passion:
Its taste in costume is entirely absurd--
It is ages ahead of the fashion:

'But it knows any friend it has met once before:
It never will look at a bride:
And in charity-meetings it stands at the door,
And collects--though it does not subscribe.

' Its flavor when cooked is more exquisite far
Than mutton, or oysters, or eggs:
(Some think it keeps best in an ivory jar,
And some, in mahogany kegs:)

'You boil it in sawdust: you salt it in glue:
You condense it with locusts and tape:
Still keeping one principal object in view--
To preserve its symmetrical shape.'

The Butcher would gladly have talked till next day,
But he felt that the lesson must end,
And he wept with delight in attempting to say
He considered the Beaver his friend.

While the Beaver confessed, with affectionate looks
More eloquent even than tears,
It had learned in ten minutes far more than all books
Would have taught it in seventy years.

They returned hand-in-hand, and the Bellman, unmanned
(For a moment) with noble emotion,
Said 'This amply repays all the wearisome days
We have spent on the billowy ocean!'

Such friends, as the Beaver and Butcher became,
Have seldom if ever been known;
In winter or summer, 'twas always the same--
You could never meet either alone.

And when quarrels arose--as one frequently finds
Quarrels will, spite of every endeavor--
The song of the Jubjub recurred to their minds,
And cemented their friendship for ever!


Fit the Sixth
THE BARRISTER'S DREAM

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.

But the Barrister, weary of proving in vain
That the Beaver's lace-making was wrong,
Fell asleep, and in dreams saw the creature quite plain
That his fancy had dwelt on so long.

He dreamed that he stood in a shadowy Court,
Where the Snark, with a glass in its eye,
Dressed in gown, bands, and wig, was defending a pig
On the charge of deserting its sty.

The Witnesses proved, without error or flaw,
That the sty was deserted when found:
And the Judge kept explaining the state of the law
In a soft under-current of sound.

The indictment had never been clearly expressed,
And it seemed that the Snark had begun,
And had spoken three hours, before any one guessed
What the pig was supposed to have done.

The Jury had each formed a different view
(Long before the indictment was read),
And they all spoke at once, so that none of them knew
One word that the others had said.

'You must know ---' said the Judge: but the Snark exclaimed 'Fudge!'
That statute is obsolete quite!
Let me tell you, my friends, the whole question depends
On an ancient manorial right.

'In the matter of Treason the pig would appear
To have aided, but scarcely abetted:
While the charge of Insolvency fails, it is clear,
If you grant the plea 'never indebted.'

'The fact of Desertion I will not dispute;
But its guilt, as I trust, is removed
(So far as related to the costs of this suit)
By the Alibi which has been proved.

'My poor client's fate now depends on you votes.'
Here the speaker sat down in his place,
And directed the Judge to refer to his notes
And briefly to sum up the case.

But the Judge said he never had summed up before;
So the Snark undertook it instead,
And summed it so well that it came to far more
Than the Witnesses ever had said!

When the verdict was called for, the Jury declined,
As the word was so puzzling to spell;
But they ventured to hope that the Snark wouldn't mind
Undertaking that duty as well.

So the Snark found the verdict, although, as it owned,
It was spent with the toils of the day:
When it said the word 'GUILTY!' the Jury all groaned,
And some of them fainted away.

Then the Snark pronounced sentence, the Judge being quite
Too nervous to utter a word:
When it rose to its feet, there was silence like night,
And the fall of a pin might be heard.

'Transportation for lift' was the sentence it gave,
'And *then* to be fined forty pound.'
The Jury all cheered, though the Judge said he feared
That the phrase was not legally sound.

But their wild exultation was suddenly checked
When the jailer informed them, with tears,
Such a sentence would have not the slightest effect,
As the pig had been dead for some years.

The Judge left the Court, looking deeply disgusted:
But the Snark, though a little aghast,
As the lawyer to whom the defense was entrusted,
Went bellowing on to the last.

Thus the Barrister dreamed, while the bellowing seemed
To grow every moment more clear:
Till he woke to the knell of a furious bell,
Which the Bellman rang close at his ear.


Fit the Seventh
THE BANKER'S FATE

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.

And the Banker, inspired with a courage so new
It was matter for general remark,
Rushed madly ahead and was lost to their view
In his zeal to discover the Snark

But while he was seeking with thimbles and care,
A Bandersnatch swiftly drew nigh
And grabbed at the Banker, who shrieked in despair,
For he knew it was useless to fly.

He offered large discount--he offered a check
(Drawn 'to bearer') for seven-pounds-ten:
But the Bandersnatch merely extended its neck
And grabbed at the Banker again.

Without rest or pause--while those frumious jaws
Went savagely snapping around-
He skipped and he hopped, and he floundered and flopped,
Till fainting he fell to the ground.

The Bandersnatch fled as the others appeared
Led on by that fear-stricken yell:
And the Bellman remarked 'It is just as I feared!'
And solemnly tolled on his bell.

He was black in the face, and they scarcely could trace
The least likeness to what he had been:
While so great was his fright that his waistcoat turned white-
A wonderful thing to be seen!

To the horror of all who were present that day.
He uprose in full evening dress,
And with senseless grimaces endeavored to say
What his tongue could no longer express.

Down he sank in a chair--ran his hands through his hair--
And chanted in mimsiest tones
Words whose utter inanity proved his insanity,
While he rattled a couple of bones.

'Leave him here to his fate--it is getting so late!'
The Bellman exclaimed in a fright.
'We have lost half the day. Any further delay,
And we sha'nt catch a Snark before night!'


Fit the Eighth
THE VANISHING

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.

They shuddered to think that the chase might fail,
And the Beaver, excited at last,
Went bounding along on the tip of its tail,
For the daylight was nearly past.

'There is Thingumbob shouting!' the Bellman said,
'He is shouting like mad, only hark!
He is waving his hands, he is wagging his head,
He has certainly found a Snark!'

They gazed in delight, while the Butcher exclaimed
'He was always a desperate wag!'
They beheld him--their Baker--their hero unnamed--
On the top of a neighboring crag.

Erect and sublime, for one moment of time.
In the next, that wild figure they saw
(As if stung by a spasm) plunge into a chasm,
While they waited and listened in awe.

'It's a Snark!' was the sound that first came to their ears,
And seemed almost too good to be true.
Then followed a torrent of laughter and cheers:
Then the ominous words 'It's a Boo-'

Then, silence. Some fancied they heard in the air
A weary and wandering sigh
Then sounded like '-jum!' but the others declare
It was only a breeze that went by.

They hunted till darkness came on, but they found
Not a button, or feather, or mark,
By which they could tell that they stood on the ground
Where the Baker had met with the Snark.

In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
In the midst of his laughter and glee,
He had softly and suddenly vanished away---
For the Snark *was* a Boojum, you see.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share
Lewis Carroll

The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits

Fit the First.
THE LANDING

"Just the place for a Snark!" the Bellman cried,
As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide

By a finger entwined in his hair.
"Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:

What I tell you three times is true."
The crew was complete: it included a Boots—
A maker of Bonnets and Hoods—
A Barrister, brought to arrange their disputes—

And a Broker, to value their goods.
A Billiard-marker, whose skill was immense,
Might perhaps have won more than his share—
But a Banker, engaged at enormous expense,

Had the whole of their cash in his care.
There was also a Beaver, that paced on the deck,
Or would sit making lace in the bow:
And had often (the Bellman said) saved them from wreck,

Though none of the sailors knew how.
There was one who was famed for the number of things
He forgot when he entered the ship:
His umbrella, his watch, all his jewels and rings,

And the clothes he had bought for the trip.
He had forty-two boxes, all carefully packed,
With his name painted clearly on each:
But, since he omitted to mention the fact,
They were all left behind on the beach.

The loss of his clothes hardly mattered, because
He had seven coats on when he came,
With three pairs of boots—but the worst of it was,
He had wholly forgotten his name.

He would answer to "Hi!" or to any loud cry,
Such as "Fry me!" or "Fritter my wig!"
To "What-you-may-call-um!" or "What-was-his-name!"
But especially "Thing-um-a-jig!"

While, for those who preferred a more forcible word,
He had different names from these:
His intimate friends called him "Candle-ends,"
And his enemies "Toasted-cheese."

"His form is ungainly—his intellect small—"
(So the Bellman would often remark)
"But his courage is perfect! And that, after all,
Is the thing that one needs with a Snark."

He would joke with hyænas, returning their stare
With an impudent wag of the head:
And he once went a walk, paw-in-paw, with a bear,
"Just to keep up its spirits," he said.

He came as a Baker: but owned, when too late—
And it drove the poor Bellman half-mad—
He could only bake Bridecake—for which, I may state,
No materials were to be had.

The last of the crew needs especial remark,
Though he looked an incredible dunce:
He had just one idea—but, that one being "Snark,"
The good Bellman engaged him at once.

He came as a Butcher: but gravely declared,
When the ship had been sailing a week,
He could only kill Beavers. The Bellman looked scared,
And was almost too frightened to speak:

But at length he explained, in a tremulous tone,
There was only one Beaver on board;
And that was a tame one he had of his own,
Whose death would be deeply deplored.

The Beaver, who happened to hear the remark,
Protested, with tears in its eyes,
That not even the rapture of hunting the Snark
Could atone for that dismal surprise!

It strongly advised that the Butcher should be
Conveyed in a separate ship:
But the Bellman declared that would never agree
With the plans he had made for the trip:

Navigation was always a difficult art,
Though with only one ship and one bell:
And he feared he must really decline, for his part,
Undertaking another as well.

The Beaver's best course was, no doubt, to procure
A second-hand dagger-proof coat—
So the Baker advised it—and next, to insure
Its life in some Office of note:

This the Banker suggested, and offered for hire
(On moderate terms), or for sale,
Two excellent Policies, one Against Fire,
And one Against Damage From Hail.

Yet still, ever after that sorrowful day,
Whenever the Butcher was by,
The Beaver kept looking the opposite way,
And appeared unaccountably shy.

Fit the Second.
THE BELLMAN'S SPEECH.

The Bellman himself they all praised to the skies—
Such a carriage, such ease and such grace!
Such solemnity, too! One could see he was wise,
The moment one looked in his face!

He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.

What's the good of Mercator's North Poles and Equators,
Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?"
So the Bellman would cry and the crew would reply
"They are merely conventional signs!

"Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
But we've got our brave Captain to thank"
(So the crew would protest) "that he's bought us the best—
A perfect and absolute blank!"

This was charming, no doubt but they shortly found out
That the Captain they trusted so well
Had only one notion for crossing the ocean,
And that was to tingle his bell.

He was thoughtful and grave—but the orders he gave
Were enough to bewilder a crew.
When he cried "Steer to starboard, but keep her head larboard!"
What on earth was the helmsman to do?

Then the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes:
A thing, as the Bellman remarked,
That frequently happens in tropical climes,
When a vessel is, so to speak, "snarked."

But the principal failing occurred in the sailing,
And the Bellman, perplexed and distressed,
Said he had hoped, at least, when the wind blew due East,
That the ship would not travel due West!

But the danger was past—they had landed at last,
With their boxes, portmanteaus, and bags:
Yet at first sight the crew were not pleased with the view,
Which consisted of chasms and crags.

The Bellman perceived that their spirits were low,
And repeated in musical tone
Some jokes he had kept for a season of woe—
But the crew would do nothing but groan.

He served out some grog with a liberal hand,
And bade them sit down on the beach:
And they could not but own that their Captain looked grand,
As he stood and delivered his speech.

"Friends, Romans, and countrymen, lend me your ears!"
(They were all of them fond of quotations:
So they drank to his health, and they gave him three cheers,
While he served out additional rations).

"We have sailed many months, we have sailed many weeks
(Four weeks to the month you may mark),
But never as yet ('tis your Captain who speaks)
Have we caught the least glimpse of a Snark!

"We have sailed many weeks, we have sailed many days
(Seven days to the week I allow),
But a Snark, on the which we might lovingly gaze,
We have never beheld till now!

"Come, listen, my men, while I tell you again
The five unmistakable marks
By which you may know, wheresoever you go,
The warranted genuine Snarks.

"Let us take them in order. The first is the taste,
Which is meagre and hollow, but crisp:
Like a coat that is rather too tight in the waist,
With a flavour of Will-o-the-wisp.

"Its habit of getting up late you'll agree
That it carries too far, when I say
That it frequently breakfasts at five-o'clock tea,
And dines on the following day.

"The third is its slowness in taking a jest.
Should you happen to venture on one,
It will sigh like a thing that is deeply distressed :
And it always looks grave at a pun.

"The fourth is its fondness for bathing-machines,
Which it constantly carries about,
And believes that they add to the beauty of scenes—
A sentiment open to doubt.

"The fifth is ambition. It next will be right
To describe each particular batch:
Distinguishing those that have feathers, and bite,
From those that have whiskers, and scratch.

"For, although common Snarks do no manner of harm,
Yet, I feel it my duty to say,
Some are Boojums——" The Bellman broke off in alarm,
For the Baker had fainted away.

Fit the Third.
THE BAKER'S TALE.

They roused him with muffins—they roused him with ice—
They roused him with mustard and cress—
They roused him with jam and judicious advice—
They set him conundrums to guess.

When at length he sat up and was able to speak,
His sad story he offered to tell;
And the Bellman cried "Silence! Not even a shriek!"
And excitedly tingled his bell.

There was silence supreme! Not a shriek, not a scream,
Scarcely even a howl or a groan,
As the man they called "Ho!" told his story of woe
In an antediluvian tone.

"My father and mother were honest, though poor—"
"Skip all that!" cried the Bellman in haste.
"If it once becomes dark, there's no chance of a Snark—
We have hardly a minute to waste!"

"I skip forty years," said the Baker, in tears,
"And proceed without further remark
To the day when you took me aboard of your ship
To help you in hunting the Snark.

"A dear uncle of mine (after whom I was named)
Remarked, when I bade him farewell—"
"Oh, skip your dear uncle!" the Bellman exclaimed,
As he angrily tingled his bell.

"He remarked to me then," said that mildest of men,
" 'If your Snark be a Snark, that is right:
Fetch it home by all means—you may serve it with greens,
And it's handy for striking a light.

"'You may seek it with thimbles—and seek it with care;
You may hunt it with forks and hope;
You may threaten its life with a railway-share;
You may charm it with smiles and soap—'"

("That's exactly the method," the Bellman bold
In a hasty parenthesis cried,
"That's exactly the way I have always been told
That the capture of Snarks should be tried!")

"'But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
And never be met with again!'

"It is this, it is this that oppresses my soul,
When I think of my uncle's last words:
And my heart is like nothing so much as a bowl
Brimming over with quivering curds!

"It is this, it is this—" "We have had that before!"
The Bellman indignantly said.
And the Baker replied "Let me say it once more.
It is this, it is this that I dread!

"I engage with the Snark—every night after dark—
In a dreamy delirious fight:
I serve it with greens in those shadowy scenes,
And I use it for striking a light:

"But if ever I meet with a Boojum, that day,
In a moment (of this I am sure),
I shall softly and suddenly vanish away—
And the notion I cannot endure!"

Fit the Fourth.
THE HUNTING.

The Bellman looked uffish, and wrinkled his brow.
"If only you'd spoken before!
It's excessively awkward to mention it now,
With the Snark, so to speak, at the door!

"We should all of us grieve, as you well may believe,
If you never were met with again—
But surely, my man, when the voyage began,
You might have suggested it then?

"It's excessively awkward to mention it now—
As I think I've already remarked."
And the man they called "Hi!" replied, with a sigh,
"I informed you the day we embarked.

"You may charge me with murder—or want of sense—
(We are all of us weak at times):
But the slightest approach to a false pretense
Was never among my crimes!

"I said it in Hebrew—I said it in Dutch—
I said it in German and Greek:
But I wholly forgot (and it vexes me much)
That English is what you speak!"

"'Tis a pitiful tale," said the Bellman, whose face
Had grown longer at every word:
"But, now that you've stated the whole of your case,
More debate would be simply absurd.

"The rest of my speech" (he explained to his men)
"You shall hear when I've leisure to speak it.
But the Snark is at hand, let me tell you again!
'Tis your glorious duty to seek it!

"To seek it with thimbles, to seek it with care;
To pursue it with forks and hope;
To threaten its life with a railway-share;
To charm it with smiles and soap!

"For the Snark's a peculiar creature, that won't
Be caught in a commonplace way.
Do all that you know, and try all that you don't:
Not a chance must be wasted to-day!

"For England expects—I forbear to proceed:
'Tis a maxim tremendous, but trite:
And you'd best be unpacking the things that you need
To rig yourselves out for the fight."

Then the Banker endorsed a blank check (which he crossed),
And changed his loose silver for notes.
The Baker with care combed his whiskers and hair,
And shook the dust out of his coats.

The Boots and the Broker were sharpening a spade—
Each working the grindstone in turn:
But the Beaver went on making lace, and displayed
No interest in the concern:

Though the Barrister tried to appeal to its pride,
And vainly proceeded to cite
A number of cases, in which making laces
Had been proved an infringement of right.

The maker of Bonnets ferociously planned
A novel arrangement of bows:
While the Billiard-marker with quivering hand
Was chalking the tip of his nose.

But the Butcher turned nervous, and dressed himself fine,
With yellow kid gloves and a ruff—
Said he felt it exactly like going to dine,
Which the Bellman declared was all "stuff."

"Introduce me, now there's a good fellow," he said,
"If we happen to meet it together!"
And the Bellman, sagaciously nodding his head,
Said "That must depend on the weather."

The Beaver went simply galumphing about,
At seeing the Butcher so shy:
And even the Baker, though stupid and stout,
Made an effort to wink with one eye.

"Be a man!" said the Bellman in wrath, as he heard
The Butcher beginning to sob.
"Should we meet with a Jubjub, that desperate bird,
We shall need all our strength for the job!"

Fit the Fifth.
THE BEAVER'S LESSON.

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.

Then the Butcher contrived an ingenious plan
For making a separate sally;
And fixed on a spot unfrequented by man,
A dismal and desolate valley.

But the very same plan to the Beaver occurred:
It had chosen the very same place:
Yet neither betrayed, by a sign or a word,
The disgust that appeared in his face.

Each thought he was thinking of nothing but "Snark"
And the glorious work of the day;
And each tried to pretend that he did not remark
That the other was going that way.

But the valley grew narrow and narrower still,
And the evening got darker and colder,
Till (merely from nervousness, not from goodwill)
They marched along shoulder to shoulder.

Then a scream, shrill and high, rent the shuddering sky,
And they knew that some danger was near:
The Beaver turned pale to the tip of its tail,
And even the Butcher felt queer.

He thought of his childhood, left far far behind—
That blissful and innocent state—
The sound so exactly recalled to his mind
A pencil that squeaks on a slate!

"'Tis the voice of the Jubjub!" he suddenly cried.
(This man, that they used to call "Dunce.")
"As the Bellman would tell you," he added with pride,
"I have uttered that sentiment once.

"'Tis the note of the Jubjub! Keep count, I entreat;
You will find I have told it you twice.
'Tis the song of the Jubjub! The proof is complete,
If only I've stated it thrice."

The Beaver had counted with scrupulous care,
Attending to every word:
But it fairly lost heart, and outgrabe in despair,
When the third repetition occurred.

It felt that, in spite of all possible pains,
It had somehow contrived to lose count,
And the only thing now was to rack its poor brains
By reckoning up the amount.

"Two added to one—if that could but be done,"
It said, "with one's fingers and thumbs!"
Recollecting with tears how, in earlier years,
It had taken no pains with its sums.

"The thing can be done," said the Butcher, "I think.
The thing must be done, I am sure.
The thing shall be done! Bring me paper and ink,
The best there is time to procure."

The Beaver brought paper, portfolio, pens,
And ink in unfailing supplies:
While strange creepy creatures came out of their dens,
And watched them with wondering eyes.

So engrossed was the Butcher, he heeded them not,
As he wrote with a pen in each hand,
And explained all the while in a popular style
Which the Beaver could well understand.

"Taking Three as the subject to reason about—
A convenient number to state—
We add Seven, and Ten, and then multiply out
By One Thousand diminished by Eight.

"The result we proceed to divide, as you see,
By Nine Hundred and Ninety and Two:
Then subtract Seventeen, and the answer must be
Exactly and perfectly true.

"The method employed I would gladly explain,
While I have it so clear in my head,
If I had but the time and you had but the brain—
But much yet remains to be said.

"In one moment I've seen what has hitherto been
Enveloped in absolute mystery,
And without extra charge I will give you at large
A Lesson in Natural History."

In his genial way he proceeded to say
(Forgetting all laws of propriety,
And that giving instruction, without introduction,
Would have caused quite a thrill in Society),

"As to temper the Jubjub's a desperate bird,
Since it lives in perpetual passion:
Its taste in costume is entirely absurd—
It is ages ahead of the fashion:

"But it knows any friend it has met once before:
It never will look at a bribe:
And in charity-meetings it stands at the door,
And collects—though it does not subscribe.

"Its flavor when cooked is more exquisite far
Than mutton, or oysters, or eggs:
(Some think it keeps best in an ivory jar,
And some, in mahogany kegs:)

"You boil it in sawdust: you salt it in glue:
You condense it with locusts and tape:
Still keeping one principal object in view—
To preserve its symmetrical shape."

The Butcher would gladly have talked till next day,
But he felt that the Lesson must end,
And he wept with delight in attempting to say
He considered the Beaver his friend.

While the Beaver confessed, with affectionate looks
More eloquent even than tears,
It had learned in ten minutes far more than all books
Would have taught it in seventy years.

They returned hand-in-hand, and the Bellman, unmanned
(For a moment) with noble emotion,
Said "This amply repays all the wearisome days
We have spent on the billowy ocean!"

Such friends, as the Beaver and Butcher became,
Have seldom if ever been known;
In winter or summer, 'twas always the same—
You could never meet either alone.

And when quarrels arose—as one frequently finds
Quarrels will, spite of every endeavour—
The song of the Jubjub recurred to their minds,
And cemented their friendship for ever!

Fit the Sixth.
THE BARRISTER'S DREAM.

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.

But the Barrister, weary of proving in vain
That the Beaver's lace-making was wrong,
Fell asleep, and in dreams saw the creature quite plain
That his fancy had dwelt on so long.

He dreamed that he stood in a shadowy Court,
Where the Snark, with a glass in its eye,
Dressed in gown, bands, and wig, was defending a pig
On the charge of deserting its sty.

The Witnesses proved, without error or flaw,
That the sty was deserted when found:
And the Judge kept explaining the state of the law
In a soft under-current of sound.

The indictment had never been clearly expressed,
And it seemed that the Snark had begun,
And had spoken three hours, before any one guessed
What the pig was supposed to have done.

The Jury had each formed a different view
(Long before the indictment was read),
And they all spoke at once, so that none of them knew
One word that the others had said.

"You must know —" said the Judge: but the Snark exclaimed "Fudge!
That statute is obsolete quite!
Let me tell you, my friends, the whole question depends
On an ancient manorial right.

"In the matter of Treason the pig would appear
To have aided, but scarcely abetted:
While the charge of Insolvency fails, it is clear,
If you grant the plea 'never indebted.'

"The fact of Desertion I will not dispute;
But its guilt, as I trust, is removed
(So far as relates to the costs of this suit)
By the Alibi which has been proved.

"My poor client's fate now depends on your votes."
Here the speaker sat down in his place,
And directed the Judge to refer to his notes
And briefly to sum up the case.

But the Judge said he never had summed up before;
So the Snark undertook it instead,
And summed it so well that it came to far more
Than the Witnesses ever had said!

When the verdict was called for, the Jury declined,
As the word was so puzzling to spell;
But they ventured to hope that the Snark wouldn't mind
Undertaking that duty as well.

So the Snark found the verdict, although, as it owned,
It was spent with the toils of the day:
When it said the word "GUILTY!" the Jury all groaned,
And some of them fainted away.

Then the Snark pronounced sentence, the Judge being quite
Too nervous to utter a word:
When it rose to its feet, there was silence like night,
And the fall of a pin might be heard.

"Transportation for life" was the sentence it gave,
"And then to be fined forty pound."
The Jury all cheered, though the Judge said he feared
That the phrase was not legally sound.

But their wild exultation was suddenly checked
When the jailer informed them, with tears,
Such a sentence would have not the slightest effect,
As the pig had been dead for some years.

The Judge left the Court, looking deeply disgusted:
But the Snark, though a little aghast,
As the lawyer to whom the defense was entrusted,
Went bellowing on to the last.

Thus the Barrister dreamed, while the bellowing seemed
To grow every moment more clear:
Till he woke to the knell of a furious bell,
Which the Bellman rang close at his ear.

Fit the Seventh.
THE BANKER'S FATE.

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.

And the Banker, inspired with a courage so new
It was matter for general remark,
Rushed madly ahead and was lost to their view
In his zeal to discover the Snark.

But while he was seeking with thimbles and care,
A Bandersnatch swiftly drew nigh
And grabbed at the Banker, who shrieked in despair,
For he knew it was useless to fly.

He offered large discount—he offered a check
(Drawn "to bearer") for seven-pounds-ten:
But the Bandersnatch merely extended its neck
And grabbed at the Banker again.

Without rest or pause—while those frumious jaws
Went savagely snapping around—
He skipped and he hopped, and he floundered and flopped,
Till fainting he fell to the ground.

The Bandersnatch fled as the others appeared
Led on by that fear-stricken yell:
And the Bellman remarked "It is just as I feared!"
And solemnly tolled on his bell.

He was black in the face, and they scarcely could trace
The least likeness to what he had been:
While so great was his fright that his waistcoat turned white—
A wonderful thing to be seen!

To the horror of all who were present that day.
He uprose in full evening dress,
And with senseless grimaces endeavored to say
What his tongue could no longer express.

Down he sank in a chair—ran his hands through his hair—
And chanted in mimsiest tones
Words whose utter inanity proved his insanity,
While he rattled a couple of bones.

"Leave him here to his fate—it is getting so late!"
The Bellman exclaimed in a fright.
"We have lost half the day. Any further delay,
And we sha'n't catch a Snark before night!"

Fit the Eighth.
THE VANISHING.

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.

They shuddered to think that the chase might fail,
And the Beaver, excited at last,
Went bounding along on the tip of its tail,
For the daylight was nearly past.

"There is Thingumbob shouting!" the Bellman said,
"He is shouting like mad, only hark!
He is waving his hands, he is wagging his head,
He has certainly found a Snark!"

They gazed in delight, while the Butcher exclaimed
"He was always a desperate wag!"
They beheld him—their Baker—their hero unnamed—
On the top of a neighboring crag.

Erect and sublime, for one moment of time.
In the next, that wild figure they saw
(As if stung by a spasm) plunge into a chasm,
While they waited and listened in awe.

"It's a Snark!" was the sound that first came to their ears,
And seemed almost too good to be true.
Then followed a torrent of laughter and cheers:
Then the ominous words "It's a Boo—"

Then, silence. Some fancied they heard in the air
A weary and wandering sigh
That sounded like "—jum!" but the others declare
It was only a breeze that went by.

They hunted till darkness came on, but they found
Not a button, or feather, or mark,
By which they could tell that they stood on the ground
Where the Baker had met with the Snark.

In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
In the midst of his laughter and glee,
He had softly and suddenly vanished away—
For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.

THE END.

poem by (1876)Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Veronica Serbanoiu
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share

A Plan for All Seasons-Parody Vicar of Bray Applied to France

A Plan for all Seasons

When Pompidou for culture stood
in Gaul, Faith was profession,
The flag of France’s trade withstood
all tempests sans recession.
The Legion’s knight I did become,
the network freely flourished, -
the Gaullist movement was the sum
which indendance nourished.

When VGE contrived to take
a stand and form a Party,
his right-hand man I thought I’d make –
in P.R. I was arty!
I’d teach my flock, in Politics
the aim’s communication,
left, centre, right, I’d ever mix
for the good of the nation.

When Chirac went off in a huff
I thought him rather cheeky,
to act so spoiled and off the cuff
rat ere the ship was leaky,
and so I stayed who would not sink,
and thought that I was clever
to trip to Afric in the pink –
for diamonds are forever!

When Barre directed France’s helm
I joined his team right hearty
to guide the godless in the realm
away from bone – aparté!
To teach my flock a bag of tricks
became soul’s sole vocation,
and when at Barre the French through sticks,
I took a long vacation!

When God took over at the bar
I left the side of Darty,
and leftwards veered hitched to a star,
which some men thought was tarty!
My former friends, now foes, threw bricks
in baffled consternation,
but soon I knocked their balls for six
by [s]lick anticipation.

Anticipation does not serve
when world wide trade turns down, sir,
and so my soul began to swerve
from Mauroy and his frown, sir.
But Fabius no Fabian proved,
and, saved from resignation,
to him my wagon was removed
with no blush hesitation.

Then with elections fresh in France
I found myself in quandary,
with Left and Right twinned in the dance
approved by all and sundry:
the President on Chirac lent
although “cohabitation”
a pet phrase was, - God, what it meant,
was altar altercation!

The wheel of change brought Chirac back –
enforced cohabitation –
and so I took another t(r) ack,
a different destination.
I trained myself with main and might
to serve both self and nation,
and ever looked to left and right
to keep myself in station.

When God was born a second time,
with Rocard I allied, sir,
and saw with pride my fortunes climb
though unemployed oft cried ‘cur! ’
Investment in my future firm
encouraged in the system
the faith that made the left-wing squirm –
though reds resigned, none missed ‘em.

But Cresson came – I had my doubts,
and so once more I altered,
and almost rallied to the krauts
but missed my mark and faltered.
To teach my flock I seldom missed
the chance, in illustration,
to show that unemployment kissed
good bye to approbation.

Cresson soon overgrown with weeds
resigned, by none regretted,
Bérégovy to her succeeds,
by very few abetted.
His luckless task I would not take,
awaiting fresh elections,
where the old guard once more would stake
old chips sans introspections.

Though Béré brought a brief respite
the storm clouds gathered darkly,
God gave to Tapie left and right
till bankruptcy rose starkly,
but while one saw ecologists
play games with coalitions,
through National Front men got the gist
of altering conditions.

Then Balladur began to dance
with God a double tango,
I to the Bourse returned to play
the market with contango.
A fresh election was in sight,
the wheel turned once again, sir,
in Parliament perched on the right
I’m counted among men, sir!

But Balladur – for thirty years –
found friendship’s ties restraining,
and lost his bid, retired in tears,
dreams ashes turned, - for reigning
was Chirac in his stead, to show
that after wilderness he
had naught learned, naught forgot, to blow
both hot, cold, for a vote “oui”!

The seven year itch brought us back
to socialists supreme, sir,
the Left foiled Chirac’s vain attack,
and every Gaullist dream, sir,
the country spun round like a top,
the Rose’s emanations
to Chirac’s projects put a stop –
to Right Wing consternation.

Then bad blood spilt became hot news
with AIDS on the agenda,
as criticism lit short fuse
from every questioned gender, -
transfusion then became an aim
of tardy legislation,
while House and Senate found a flame
to fight contamination.

Chirac and Juppé I began
to pay for promises vain,
ideas and ideals were “en pann”
belts tightened were, which caused pain.
The People, ‘spite its ‘muddy brain’
found failing growth and rising
unemployment once again –
was discontent surprising?

As Juppé I to Juppé II
gave way with undue haste, sir,
for future scope he lost his cue,
investments went to waste, sir.
But Time speeds up, elections new
for nineteen ninety eight rose,
as unemployment further grew
bloom faded from the red rose.

For soon the tide turned to defeat
of dictums democratic,
as Frenchmen voted with their feet
expulsions automatic.
As jobs grew scarcer,
less well paid,
with teleworking working,
as piecework grew horizons greyed –
restrictions irking shirking!

The wheel of Fortune spun once more
with Chirac just ahead, sir,
while Balladur, shook to the core,
was left with face bright red, sir, -
but Juppé’s domicile became
a short lease provocation,
he tried to turn the blame
regretting close relation.

When Jospin stood as candidate
pride came before the fall, sir,
how few dared to anticipate
Le Pen would have a ball, sir!
The left locked out of second round
tolled bell for re-election,
was sentiment in France unsound
to justify ejection?

With Raffarin a new world dawned,
said some – but dumb he proved, sir,
from one to two to three unmoved
his mandate was reproved, sir.
He left the land as bland as when
he came to Chirac’s whistle,
both uninspiring flame and fame, -
unnoticed his dismissal.

Much to Sarko’s chagrin the star
of Villepin then was rising,
outright right turned the former tsar,
as umpire supervising
a U.M.P. soon to be rump
reduced by Royal flush, sir, -
who hopes to hold a leftist trump
behind her beauty’s blush, sir.

So on the double one must make
allegiance to new Queen, sir,
though old Lang sign his wish to take
the cake from the dauphine, sir. –
yet who’ll be President remains
withheld from ken of mortal
until the rewards for all their pain’s
disclosed by Fate to chortle.

Tsunami tides of votes for grabs
soon ebb, as soon forgotten,
yet vicars everywhere keep tabs -
placeholders’ gains ill-gotten, -
from sinecure to sinecure
we, hungry, will maintain, sir,
and whosoever falls, be sure
we’ll find our feet again, sir!

What’s next? One well may ask, the choice
as ever’s à la Carte, we
will tune to tone of voters’ voice
before new course we’ll chart, see!
But this is sure, he who Fate picks
must act, no hesitation
is tolerated – fiddlesticks
for vain vociferation.

Now, as the Information Age
replaces old conditions,
and undermines the printed page –
traditional editions,
all link online with micro niches
as way of life tomorrow,
soon I’ll retire to my péniche
and scribble free from sorrow!


(4 September 1996 and various times
Parody – The Vicar of Bray)


The Vicar of Bray


In good King Charles's golden days, 1660_1685
When loyalty no harm meant;
A furious High-Church man I was,
And so I gain'd preferment.
Unto my flock I daily preach'd,
Kings are by God appointed,
And damn'd are those who dare resist,
Or touch the Lord's anointed.

And this is law, I will maintain
Unto my dying day, sir,
That whatsoever king shall reign,
I will be Vicar of Bray, sir!

When Royal James possess'd the crown, 1685_1688
And popery grew in fashion;
The penal law I houted down,
And read the declaration:
The Church of Rome, I found would fit,
Full well my constitution,
And I had been a Jesuit,
But for the Revolution.

When William our deliverer came, 1689_1702
To heal the nation's grievance,
I turned the cat in pan again,
And swore to him allegiance:
Old principles I did revoke,
Set conscience at a distance,
Passive obedience is a joke,
A jest is non-resistance.

When glorious Anne became our queen 1702_1714
The Church of England's glory,
Another face of things was seen,
And I became a Tory:
Occasional conformists base,
I damn'd, and moderation,
And thought the Church in danger was,
From such prevarication.

When George in pudding time came o'er, 1714_1727
And moderate men looked big, sir,
My principles I chang'd once more,
And so became a Whig, sir:
And thus preferment I procur'd,
From our faith's great defender,
And almost every day abjur'd
The Pope, and the Pretender.

The illustrious House of Hanover,
And Protestant succession,
To these I lustily will swear,
Whilst they can keep possession:
For in my faith, and loyalty,
I never once will falter,
George, my lawful king shall be,
Except the times should alter.

And this is law, I will maintain
Unto my dying day, sir,
That whatsoever king shall reign,
I will be Vicar of Bray, Sir!


(Author Unknown )


In Vino Veritas

When Science led me by the hand right up her garden path, Sir,
They tried to make me understand her Physics, Chem and Math, Sir.
It came to naught, and all they taught could not have fallen flatter,
Except for this, which gave me bliss, the liquid state of matter.

cho: And this is plain, as I maintain, since good old Aristotle
The truth has been most clearly seen reflected in a bottle.

What always jars in seminars and causes constant panics,
Is all that talk and blackboard chaulk to inculcate mechanics;
I feel I need a glass of mead, as drunk by ancient druids
And so thereby exemplify the properties of fluids.

And still today I find no way to handle apparatus.
For me alone the Great Unknown brings no divine afflatus.
Yet this this I know, when problems show no hope of resolution,
This glass of mine when filled with wine will give the right solution.

In Physics I can only make uneducated guesses,
My wooly pate can't calculate the simplest strains and stresses;
Yet when my head is almost dead with mental acrobatics,
A pint of ale will never fail to teach me hydrostatics.

To learn the rules of molecules confounds my best resources,
For Van der Waals gets me in snarls with his atomic forces.
The parachor, and what it's for, I never dare to mention:
A glass of stout includes me out of studying surface tension.

Both rho and phee are Greek to me, I find them most unruly;
I don't see why they satisfy the equation of Bernoulli.
I can't make sense of turbulence, I merely get to know, Sir,
From half a quart of vintage port the facts of liquid flow, Sir.

In deep research let others lurch and hunt elusive muons.
For QED is not for me, with all its quarks and gluons.
Let others gaze at cosmic rays revealed in sparkling bubbles
A glass of beer will always clear my head, and end my troubles.


(New Scientist contest winner Parody – The Vicar of Bray
Dr. H. J. Taylor)



Vicar of Bray – American


When royal George ruled o'er this land and loyalty no harm meant
For Church and King I made a stand and so I got preferment
I still opposed all party tricks for reasons I thought clear ones
And swore it was their politics to made us all Presbyterians

And this is the law that I'll maintain until my dying day, sir
That whatsoever King might reign, I'll still be Vicar of Bray, sir

When Stamp Act passed the Parliament to bring some grist to mill, sir
To back it was my firm intent, but soon there came repeal, sir
I quickly joined the common cry that we should all be slaves, sir
The House of Commons was a sty, the Kings and Lords were knaves, sir
Now all went smooth, as smooth as can be, I strutted and looked big, sir

And when they laid a tax on tea, I was believed a Whig, sir
I laughed at all the vain pretense of taxing at a distance
And swore before I'd pay a pence, I'd make a firm resistance
A Congress now was swiftly called that we might work together
I thought that Britain would, appalled, be glad to make fair weather

And soon repeal the obnoxious bill, as she had done before, sir
That we could gather wealth at will and so be taxed no more, sir
But Britain was not quickly seared, she told another story
When independence was declared, I figured as a Tory
Declared it was a rebellion base, to take up arms - I cursed it

For faith, it seemed a settled case, that we should soon be worsted
The French alliance now came forth, the Papists flocked in shoals, sir
Friseurs, marquis, valets of birth and priests to save our souls, sir
Our 'good ally' with towering wing embraced the flattering hope sir
That we should own him for our King and then invite the Pope, sir
Then Howe with drum and great parade marched through this famous town, sir
I cried, 'May fame his temples shade with laurels for a crown, ' sir

With zeal I swore to make amends to good old constitution
And drank confusion to the friends of our late revolution
But poor Burgoyne's announced my fate the Whigs began to glory
I now bewailed my wretched state, that e'er I was a Tory
By night the British left the shore, nor cared for friends a fig, sir

I turned the cat in pan once more and so became a Whig, sir
I called the army butchering dogs, a bloody tyrant King, sir
The Commons, Lords a set of rogues that all deserved to swing, sir
Since fate has made us great and free and Providence can't alter
So Congress e'er my King shall be, until the times do alter


(30 June 1779 edition of Rivington's Royal Gazette
Parody – The Vicar of Bray – Author Unknown)


The Vicar of Bray’s Toping Cousin


In Charles's the Second’s merry days, 1660_1685
For wanton frolics noted;
A lover of cabals I was,
With wine like Bacchus bloated.
I preach'd unto my crowded pews
Wine was by heav’n’s command, Sir,
And damn'd was he who did refuse
To drink while he could stand, Sir.

That this is the law I will maintain
Unto my dying day, sir,
Let whatsoever king to reign,
I’ll drink my gallon a day, Sir!


When James, his brother, bridged the crown, 1685_1688
He strove to stand alone, Sir,
But quickly got so drunk, that down
He tumbled from that throne, Sir:
One morning crop-sick, pale, and queer,
He reel’d to Rome, where priests severe
Full well my constitution,
Deny the cup to laymen.

When tippling Will the Dutchman sav’d 1689_1702
Our liberties from sinking,
We crown’d him king of cups, and crav’d
The privilege of drinking:
He drank your Hollands, pints ‘tis said,
And held predestination
Fool not to know the tipling trade
Admits no trepidation.

When Brandy Nan became our queen 1702_1714
‘Twas all a drunken story;
I sat and drank from morn to e’en,
And so was thought a Tory:
Brimful of grog, all sober folks
We damn'd, and moderation:
Till for right Nantz we pawned to France
Our dearest reputation.

When George the First came to the throne, 1714_1727
He took the resolution
To drink all sorts of liquors known,
To save the Constitution:
He drunk success in rare old Rum,
Unto the State, and Church, Sir,
Till with a cup of Brunswick mum
He tripp’d from off his perch, Sir.

King George the Second then arose, 1727_1760
A wise and valiant soul, Sir,
He loved his people, beat his foes,
And pushed about the bowl, Sir:
He drank his fill to Chatham Will,
To heroes for he chose ‘em,
With us true Britons drank, until,
He slept in Abraham’s bosom.

His present Majesty then came, 1760_1820
Who may heaven long preserve, Sir,
He glories in a Briton’s name,
And swears he’ll never swerve, Sir;
Tho’ evil counsellros may think
His love from us to sever,
Yet let us loyal Britons drink
King George the Third for ever!

That this is the law I will maintain
Unto my dying day, sir,
Let whatsoever king to reign,
I’ll drink my gallon a day, Sir!


(Author Unknown Festival of Momus c 1770
Parody – The Vicar of Bray – Author Unknown)



A Russian Vicar of Bray


Joe Stalin in his day inspired
Mikhalkov to a lyric.
For the National Anthem he required
A Stalin panegyric.
To Aleksandrov's solemn knell,
He chanted Stalin's praises.
When Stalin died and went to Hell,
These words too went to blazes.
(Chorus :)
For these are the words that he maintains -
Let everybody scan them:
'Whoever in Russia holds the reins,
Mikhalkov writes the Anthem.'

For many years the Anthem had
No lyric whatsoever,
But Brezhnev thought this was too bad,
And called for new endeavour.
Mikhalkov stepped into the breach
To praise the Soviet Union
In phrases to inspire and teach
A communist communion.

(Chorus)

The Soviet Union passed away,
And then the rule was broken.
No Aleksandrov melody;
Mikhalkov's words unspoken.
A different anthem for a while
Was Mother Russia's theme song,
But no-one much admired its style.
It was nobody's dream song.

(Chorus)

When Putin, former KGB,
Put Russia back on track, sir,
He thought that he would like to see
The former tune brought back, sir.
The old words would no longer do,
The earlier ones were worse, sir.
So who could write the words anew?
Why, Mikhalkov, of course, sir!
(Chorus)

Mikhalkov's words, or so he says,
Date back to 53, sir.
I wonder if he pulls our legs?
It seems that way to me, sir.
'Our native land preserved by God'
Back then would not have done, sir.
He could have faced a firing squad
For that small bit of fun, sir.
(Chorus)

Now Russia's his prevailing note,
Not Party, nor yet Stalin.
Unlike the earlier words he wrote,
No-one finds these appalling.
His borrowed theme from 'Wide My Land'
Shows some lack of invention,
But who can doubt the Master's grand
'Pro Patria' intention?
(Chorus)

To Putin and his middle path,
Twixt communists and con men,
He will forevermore hold faith,
While he relies upon them.
If this regime should go awry,
And Putin's power should falter,
Mikhalkov will be standing by,
The Anthem's words to alter.
(Chorus)


(Jack DOUGHTY Parody Vicar of Bray)



Poet of Bray


Back in the dear old thirties' days
When politics was passion
A harmless left-wing bard was I
And so I grew in fashion:
Although I never really joined
The Party of the Masses
I was most awfully chummy with
The Proletarian classes.
This is the course I'll always steer
Until the stars grow dim, sir -
That howsoever taste may veer
I'll be in the swim, sir.

But as the tide of war swept on
I turned Apocalyptic:
With symbol, myth and archetype
My verse grew crammed and cryptic:
With New Romantic zeal I swore
That Auden was a fake, sir,
And found the mind of Nicky Moore
More int'resting than Blake, sir.

White Horsemen down New Roads had run
But taste required improvement:
I turned to greet the rising sun
And so I joined the Movement!
Glittering and ambiguous
In villanelles I sported:
With Dr. Leavis I concurred,
And when he sneezed I snorted.

But seeing that even John Wax might wane
I left that one-way street, sir;
I modified my style again,
And now I am a Beat, sir:
So very beat, my soul is beat
Into a formless jelly:
I set my verses now to jazz
And read them on the telly.

Perpetual non-conformist I -
And that's the way I'm staying -
The angriest young man alive
(Although my hair is greying)
And in my rage I'll not relent -
No, not one single minute -
Against the base Establishment
(Until, of course, I'm in it) .
This is the course I'll always steer
Until the stars grow dim, sir -
That howsoever taste may veer
I'll be in the swim, sir.


(John HEATH-STUBBS 1918_20 Parody The Vicar of Bray)



The New Vicar of Bray

or: Time-Serving up to Date


In Queen Victoria’s early days,
When Grandpapa was Vicar,
The squire was worldly in his ways,
And far too fond of liquor.
My grandsire laboured to exhort
This influential sinner,
As to and fro they passed the port
On Sunday after dinner.

My Father Stepped Salvation’s road
To tunes of Tate and Brady’s;
His congregation overflowed
With wealthy maiden ladies.
Yet modern thought he did not shirk -
He maid his contribution
By writing that successful work,
« The Church and Evolution. »

When I took orders, war and strife
Filled parsons with misgiving,
For none knew who might lose his life
Or who might lose his living.
But I was early on the scenes,
Where some were loth to go, sir!
And there by running Base Canteens
I won the D.S.O., sir!

You may have read « The Verey Light » -
A book of verse that I penned -
The proceeds of it, though but slight,
Eked out my modest stipend.
By grandsire’s tactics long had failed,
And now my father’s line did;
So on another tack I sailed
(You can’t be too broad-minded) .

The public-house is now the place
To get to know the men in,
And if the King is in disgrace
Then I shall shout for Lenin.
And though my feelings they may shock,
By murder, theft and arson,
The parson still shall keep his flock
While they will keep the parson!

And this is the law that I’ll maintain
Until my dying day, sir!
That whether King or Mob shall reign,
I’m for the people that pay, sir!


(Colin ELLIS 1895_1969 Parody – The Vicar of Bray)



The Vicar of Bray, - The Court Chamberlain


When Pitt array'd the British arms
To check the Gallic ferment,
I spread the regicide alarms
And so I got preferment:
To teach my flock I never miss’d,
“Reform is revolution,
And damn’d are those that do assist
To mend a Constitution.”

And this is law, I will aver,
Tho’ stiff-neck’d fools may sneer, sir,
Whoe’er may be the Minister,
I’ll be the Chaplain here, sir.

When gentle Sidmouth sway’d the Crown
And peace came into fashion,
The lust of war I hooted down,
And puff’d pacification.
I vow’d the papists were agreed
To burn all honest men, sir;
And Methodism had been my creed –
But Pitt came in again, sir.

When Grey and Grenville made the laws
For Britain’s tol’rant nation,
I took the cudgels for the cause
Of transubstantiation.
The Articles I made a joke,
(Finding I should not need ‘em :)
And, Afric’s fetters being broke,
E’en grew a friend to Freedom.

When Perceval advised our King,
(The Church of England’s glory)
My conscience was another thing,
For I had turn’d a Tory:
I cursed the Whigs, no more in place,
And damn’d their moderation,
And swore they shook the Church’s base
By sinful toleration.

Now that the Ministry relent,
And Erin’s sons look big, sir,
I feel a soft’ning sentiment,
Which makes me half a Whig, sir.
And thus preferment I procure,
In each new doctrine hearty –
Alike extol, neglect, abjure,
Pope, King, or Bonaparte.

The new prevailing politics,
The new administration,
On these allegiance do I fix –
While they can keep their station:
For in my faith and loyalty
I never more will falter,
To Liverpool and Castlereagh,
Until the times shall alter.

And thus I safely may aver,
However fools may sneer, sir,
Whoso be the Minister,
I must be Chaplain here, sir.


(Author Unknown Posthumous Papers 1814 Parody - The Vicar of Bray)


The Vicar of Bray - The House of Lords

When bluff King Hal grew tired of Kate
And sued for his divorce, sir,
He cast about, and found in us
His willing tools, of course, sir.
What for her grief? We laughed at that,
And left her in the lurch, sir,
While every one of us grew fat
By plunder of the Church, sir.
To hold a candle to Old Nick
Has ever been our way, sir
And still we’ll play the self-same trick,
So long as it will pay, sir.

Two other queens that underwent
“The long divorce of steel, ” sir –
Do you suppose that e’er we wept,
Or for their fate did feel, sir?
We only sought to please the Kign,
And his worst wishes further;
And gaily did our order join
In each judicial murder.
For us no trick was e’er too base,
No crime too foul to shock, sir,
Nor innocence availed to save
E’en women from the block, sir.

When Mary came with fire and stake
Poor pious folks to slay, sir,
No single protest did we make,
But let her work her will, sir;
But when the Church reclaimed her lands,
And looked for smooth compliance,
We quickly raised our armèd bands
And gave her bold defiance.
Thus did the Queen her error learn,
To think (how gross the blunder!)
That, though we let her rack and burn,
We’d e’er restore our plunder.

Elizabeth, the mighty Queen,
We quailed beneath her frown, sir,
With nought but fear and hate for one
So worthy of the crown, sir,
As abject traitors round her throne
We fulsome homage paid her,
Though more than half of us were known
To plot with the invader.
To her for ducal coronets
We never were beholden;
To us the days of ‘Good Queen Bess’
Were anything but ‘golden’.

When slobbering James of coin was short,
He baronets invented,
And to creating lords for gold
Right gladly he consented;
A handsome “tip” was all he asked
To make you duke or lord, sir –
No question ever of your worth,
‘Twas what you could afford, sir.
To be a peer, “your grace, ” “my lord, ”
O, Lord! how fine it sounded!
And thus, by shelling out of cash
Were noblest houses founded.

When Charles the First, the public right
To crush but now applies him,
And willing help he gets from us;
As friends we stand beside him.
His acts of tyranny and fraud
Scarce one of us opposes –
The fine, the prison, or the whip,
Or slitting people’s noses.
To curb the tyrant of his will
Was no way in our line, sir,
All human rights were forfeited,
And merged in “Right Divine, ” sir.

The Second Charles just suited us,
We joined his lewd carouses,
And concubines became the source
Of many ducal houses.
And, as reward of services
That history scarce mentions,
You still enjoy the privilege
Of paying us the pensions.
And this we swear, by all that’s blue
Despite that prudes cry “Hush, sir! ”
That whatsoever we may do,
You’ll never find us blush, sir.

In Jame’s Court we flourished still;
Like sycophants we vied, sir;
To be a royal mistress formed
Our daughters’ highest rpide, sir;
For Whigs through tortures were devised,
Their legs with wedges broke, sir,
We ate and drank, and laughed and played,
But ne’er a word we spoke, sir.
For mingled cruelty and wrong
We never did upbraid him;
But when a paying chance came round,
Right quickly we betrayed him.

When William came, with righteous rule,
We proved but glum consenters;
The King we deemed was but a fool
To tolerate Dissenters.
Whilst on his part his Majesty
Distrusted us with reason,
For gainst our chosen lord and king
We still kept plotting treason.
And so against all righteous things
We’ve struggled from the first, sir,
To vex and thwart the better kings,
And sided with the worst sir.

In reign of Anne, ‘twas one of us,
Gave notice to the foe, sir,
Against his port and arsenal
We aimed a warlike blow, sir;
And thus were lost, in dire defeat
Eight hundred sailors bold, sir –
But what of that, when France’s bribe
Our “noble duke” consoled sir?
Betrayal of the State’s designs
By this colossal traitor –
What wonder now the lordlings praise
His humble imitator!

With George the Third it was essayed
To purge our code from blood, sir,
But we the arm of mercy stayed,
Its efforts all withstood, sir;
To hang for e’en a paltry theft –
Though tempted sore by hunger –
Was God’s own justice, so it seemed
To every boroughmonger.
And so poor wretches, one or more,
At every fair or wake, sir,
Performed ‘the dance without a floor, ”
Our thirst for blood to slake, sir.

Yet had the self-same laws been tried
On us without distinction,
Their action surely had implied
The peerage’s extinction.
But while the gallows we upheld,
“Offence’s gilded hand, ” sir,
Had all our lordly acres swelled
With thefts of common land, sir.
While wicked prizes thus we claw,
And Justice shove aside, sir,
“Not ‘gainst the law, but by the law, ”
Has ever been our guide, sir.

When Pitt the Irish Parliament
Resolved to bring to London,
He had to buy their peers’ consent
Or else his scheme was undone,
So English coronets galore
Were scattered through their tribe, sir,
Besides a million pounds or more –
Their stipulated bribe, sir.
And by this opportunity
They drove their dirty trade, sir,
To show to all posterity
How lords and dukes are made, sir.

When Wesleyans and Baptists, too,
For right of education
At public universities
Did press their application,
‘Twas we their just demand refused –
Denied their common right, sir,
And all our special powers abused
To gratify our spite, sir.
When Jews to sit in Parliament
Had duly been elected,
‘Twas we kept shut the Commons’ door,
Their right to vote rejected.

On Railway Bills our conduct calls
For no detailed narration;
No line could pass our lands without
Outrageous compensation.
Like gorging fultures at the feast
Our greed surpassed all bounds, sir,
Our blackmail figured, at the least,
One hundred million pounds, sir.
Of Pay-triotism we’ll never tire,
For it we’ll live and die, sir,
And, if the reason you inquire,
We spell it with a Y, sir.

In Reason’s name or righteousness
You vainly may reprove us,
For scorn, contempt, and threats possess
The only power to move us.
To mutilate, reject, delay,
Obstruct whene’er we dare it,
We’ll persevere in our old way
So long as you will bear it.
Of this be sure, until that day
Such things shall ne’er be mended,
Till million voices join to say,
“The House of Lords is ended! ”


(Author Unknown Weekly Dispatch 7 December 1884
Parody Unknown Author 0258 - The Vicar of Bray)



Still I'll be Prime Minister

In World Appeasement's golden days
I led the British nation
By devious diplomatic ways
To reconciliation;
I strained to keep the world from war
According to my plan, Sir,
But found the German Chancellor
Was not a gentleman, Sir.

The Peace-Front next I patronized
With wondrous expedition,
A course ad nauseam advised
By Labour’s Opposition;
My Peace-Front, nipped by Russian frost,
Was destined not to be, Sir,
But England never, never lost
Full confidence in me, Sir.

Though once I gave aggression’s hand
A friendly Tory pressure,
To-day with Socialists I stand
To fight the armed aggressor.
And since all Parties must concur
Till Europe’s wrongs are righted,
I still shall be Prime Minister
To lead a land united.

These transpositions bold and deft
Are my peculiar glory,
Which make the purpose of the Left
The programme of the Tory;
And though Great Britain’s leftward bent
To some seems dark and sinister,
Whatever be our Government
I’ll still remain Prime Minister.

(KATZIN Olga Miller 1896_1987 Parody – The Vicar of Bray)

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share
Byron

Don Juan: Canto the Eleventh

I
When Bishop Berkeley said "there was no matter,"
And proved it--'twas no matter what he sald:
They say his system 'tis in vain to batter,
Too subtle for the airiest human head;
And yet who can believe it! I would shatter
Gladly all matters down to stone or lead,
Or adamant, to find the World a spirit,
And wear my head, denying that I wear it.II
What a sublime discovery 'twas to make the
Universe universal egotism,
That all's ideal--all ourselves: I'll stake the
World (be it what you will) that that's no schism.
Oh Doubt!--if thou be'st Doubt, for which some take thee,
But which I doubt extremely--thou sole prism
Of the Truth's rays, spoil not my draught of spirit!
Heaven's brandy, though our brain can hardly bear it.III

For ever and anon comes Indigestion
(Not the most "dainty Ariel") and perplexes
Our soarings with another sort of question:
And that which after all my spirit vexes,
Is, that I find no spot where Man can rest eye on,
Without confusion of the sorts and sexes,
Of beings, stars, and this unriddled wonder,
The World, which at the worst's a glorious blunder--IV

If it be chance--or, if it be according
To the Old Text, still better: lest it should
Turn out so, we'll say nothing 'gainst the wording,
As several people think such hazards rude.
They're right; our days are too brief for affording
Space to dispute what no one ever could
Decide, and everybody one day will
Know very clearly--or at least lie still.V

And therefore will I leave off metaphysical
Discussion, which is neither here nor there:
If I agree that what is, is; then this I call
Being quite perspicuous and extremely fair.
The truth is, I've grown lately rather phthisical:
I don't know what the reason is--the air
Perhaps; but as I suffer from the shocks
Of illness, I grow much more orthodox.VI

The first attack at once prov'd the Divinity
(But that I never doubted, nor the Devil);
The next, the Virgin's mystical virginity;
The third, the usual Origin of Evil;
The fourth at once establish'd the whole Trinity
On so uncontrovertible a level,
That I devoutly wish'd the three were four--
On purpose to believe so much the more.VII

To our theme.--The man who has stood on the Acropolis,
And look'd down over Attica; or he
Who has sail'd where picturesque Constantinople is,
Or seen Timbuctoo, or hath taken tea
In small-ey'd China's crockery-ware metropolis,
Or sat amidst the bricks of Nineveh,
May not think much of London's first appearance--
But ask him what he thinks of it a year hence!VIII

Don Juan had got out on Shooter's Hill;
Sunset the time, the place the same declivity
Which looks along that vale of good and ill
Where London streets ferment in full activity,
While everything around was calm and still,
Except the creak of wheels, which on their pivot he
Heard, and that bee-like, bubbling, busy hum
Of cities, that boil over with their scum--IX

I say, Don Juan, wrapp'd in contemplation,
Walk'd on behind his carriage, o'er the summit,
And lost in wonder of so great a nation,
Gave way to't, since he could not overcome it.
"And here," he cried, "is Freedom's chosen station;
Here peals the People's voice nor can entomb it
Racks, prisons, inquisitions; resurrection
Awaits it, each new meeting or election.X

"Here are chaste wives, pure lives; her people pay
But what they please; and if that things be dear,
'Tis only that they love to throw away
Their cash, to show how much they have a-year.
Here laws are all inviolate; none lay
Traps for the traveller; every highway's clear;
Here"--he was interrupted by a knife,
With--"Damn your eyes! your money or your life!"XI

These free-born sounds proceeded from four pads
In ambush laid, who had perceiv'd him loiter
Behind his carriage; and, like handy lads,
Had seiz'd the lucky hour to reconnoitre,
In which the heedless gentleman who gads
Upon the road, unless he prove a fighter
May find himself within that isle of riches
Expos'd to lose his life as well as breeches.XII

Juan, who did not understand a word
Of English, save their shibboleth, "God damn!"
And even that he had so rarely heard,
He sometimes thought 'twas only their Salam,"
Or "God be with you!"--and 'tis not absurd
To think so, for half English as I am
(To my misfortune) never can I say
I heard them wish "God with you," save that way--XIII

Juan yet quickly understood their gesture,
And being somewhat choleric and sudden,
Drew forth a pocket pistol from his vesture,
And fired it into one assailant's pudding,
Who fell, as rolls an ox o'er in his pasture,
And roar'd out, as he writh'd his native mud in,
Unto his nearest follower or henchman,
"Oh Jack! I'm floor'd by that ere bloody Frenchman!"XIV


On which Jack and his train set off at speed,
And Juan's suite, late scatter'd at a distance,
Came up, all marvelling at such a deed,
And offering, as usual, late assistance.
Juan, who saw the moon's late minion bleed
As if his veins would pour out his existence,
Stood calling out for bandages and lint,
And wish'd he had been less hasty with his flint.XV


"Perhaps,"thought he,"it is the country's wont
To welcome foreigners in this way: now
I recollect some innkeepers who don't
Differ, except in robbing with a bow,
In lieu of a bare blade and brazen front.
But what is to be done? I can't allow
The fellow to lie groaning on the road:
So take him up, I'll help you with the load."XVI


But ere they could perform this pious duty,
The dying man cried, "Hold! I've got my gruel!
Oh! for a glass of max ! We've miss'd our booty--
Let me die where I am!" And as the fuel
Of life shrunk in his heart, and thick and sooty
The drops fell from his death-wound, and he drew ill
His breath, he from his swelling throat untied
A kerchief, crying "Give Sal that!"--and died.XVII


The cravat stain'd with bloody drops fell down
Before Don Juan's feet: he could not tell
Exactly why it was before him thrown,
Nor what the meaning of the man's farewell.
Poor Tom was once a kiddy upon town,
A thorough varmint, and a real swell,
Full flash, all fancy, until fairly diddled,
His pockets first and then his body riddled.XVIII


Don Juan, having done the best he could
In all the circumstances of the case,
As soon as "Crowner's 'quest" allow'd, pursu'd
His travels to the capital apace;
Esteeming it a little hard he should
In twelve hours' time, and very little space,
Have been oblig'd to slay a free-born native
In self-defence: this made him meditative.XIX


He from the world had cut off a great man,
Who in his time had made heroic bustle.
Who in a row like Tom could lead the van,
Booze in the ken, or at the spellken hustle?
Who queer a flat? Who (spite of Bowstreet's ban)
On the high toby-spice so flash the muzzle?
Who on a lark, with black-eyed Sal (his blowing),
So prime, so swell, so nutty, and so knowing?XX


But Tom's no more--and so no more of Tom.
Heroes must die; and by God's blessing 'tis
Not long before the most of them go home.
Hail! Thamis, hail! Upon thy verge it is
That Juan's chariot, rolling like a drum
In thunder, holds the way it can't well miss,
Through Kennington and all the other "tons,"
Which make us wish ourselves in town at once;XXI


Through Groves, so called as being void of trees,
(Like lucus from no light); through prospects nam'd
Mount Pleasant, as containing nought to please,
Nor much to climb; through little boxes fram'd
Of bricks, to let the dust in at your ease,
With "To be let," upon their doors proclaim'd;
Through "Rows" most modestly call'd "Paradise,"
Which Eve might quit without much sacrifice;XXII


Through coaches, drays, chok'd turnpikes, and a whirl
Of wheels, and roar of voices, and confusion;
Here taverns wooing to a pint of "purl,"
There mails fast flying off like a delusion;
There barbers' blocks with periwigs in curl
In windows; here the lamplighter's infusion
Slowly distill'd into the glimmering glass
(For in those days we had not got to gas);XXIII


Through this, and much, and more, is the approach
Of travellers to mighty Babylon:
Whether they come by horse, or chaise, or coach,
With slight exceptions, all the ways seem one.
I could say more, but do not choose to encroach
Upon the guide-book's privilege. The sun
Had set some time, and night was on the ridge
Of twilight, as the party cross'd the bridge.XXIV


That's rather fine, the gentle sound of Thamis--
Who vindicates a moment, too, his stream--
Though hardly heard through multifarious "damme's":
The lamps of Westminster's more regular gleam,
The breadth of pavement, and yon shrine where Fame is
A spectral resident--whose pallid beam
In shape of moonshine hovers o'er the pile--
Make this a sacred part of Albion's Isle.XXV


The Druid's groves are gone--so much the better:
Stonehenge is not--but what the devil is it?--
But Bedlam still exists with its sage fetter,
That madmen may not bite you on a visit;
The Bench too seats or suits full many a debtor;
The Mansion House too (though some people quiz it)
To me appears a stiff yet grand erection;
But then the Abbey's worth the whole collection.XXVI


The line of lights too, up to Charing Cross,
Pall Mall, and so forth, have a coruscation
Like gold as in comparison to dross,
Match'd with the Continent's illumination,
Whose cities Night by no means deigns to gloss.
The French were not yet a lamp-lighting nation,
And when they grew so--on their new-found lantern,
Instead of wicks, they made a wicked man turn.XXVII


A row of Gentlemen along the streets
Suspended may illuminate mankind,
As also bonfires made of country seats;
But the old way is best for the purblind:
The other looks like phosphorus on sheets,
A sort of [lang l]ignis fatuus[lang e] to the mind,
Which, though 'tis certain to perplex and frighten,
Must burn more mildly ere it can enlighten.XXVIII


But London's so well lit, that if Diogenes
Could recommence to hunt his honest man
And found him not amidst the various progenies
Of this enormous city's spreading spawn,
'Twere not for want of lamps to aid his dodging his
Yet undiscover'd treasure. What I can,
I've done to find the same throughout life's journey,
But see the World is only one attorney.XXIX


Over the stones still rattling, up Pall Mall,
Through crowds and carriages, but waxing thinner
As thunder'd knockers broke the long seal'd spell
Of doors 'gainst duns, and to an early dinner
Admitted a small party as night fell,
Don Juan, our young diplomatic sinner,
Pursu'd his path, and drove past some hotels,
St. James's Palace, and St. James's "Hells."XXX


They reach'd the hotel: forth stream'd from the front door
A tide of well-clad waiters, and around
The mob stood, and as usual several score
Of those pedestrian Paphians who abound
In decent London when the daylight's o'er;
Commodious but immoral, they are found
Useful, like Malthus, in promoting marriage:
But Juan now is stepping from his carriageXXXI


Into one of the sweetest of hotels,
Especially for foreigners--and mostly
For those whom favour or whom fortune swells,
And cannot find a bill's small items costly.
There many an envoy either dwelt or dwells
(The den of many a diplomatic lost lie),
Until to some conspicuous square they pass,
And blazon o'er the door their names in brass.XXXII


Juan, whose was a delicate commission,
Private, though publicly important, bore
No title to point out with due precision
The exact affair on which he was sent o'er.
'Twas merely known, that on a secret mission
A foreigner of rank had grac'd our shore,
Young, handsome and accomplish'd, who was said
(In whispers) to have turn'd his Sovereign's head.XXXIII


Some rumour also of some strange adventures
Had gone before him, and his wars and loves;
And as romantic heads are pretty painters,
And, above all, an Englishwoman's roves
Into the excursive, breaking the indentures
Of sober reason, wheresoe'er it moves,
He found himself extremely in the fashion,
Which serves our thinking people for a passion.XXXIV


I don't mean that they are passionless, but quite
The contrary; but then 'tis in the head;
Yet as the consequences are as bright
As if they acted with the heart instead,
What after all can signify the site
Of ladies' lucubrations? So they lead
In safety to the place for which you start,
What matters if the road be head or heart?XXXV


Juan presented in the proper place,
To proper placement, every Russ credential;
And was receiv'd with all the due grimace
By those who govern in the mood potential,
Who, seeing a handsome stripling with smooth face,
Thought (what in state affairs is most essential)
That they as easily might do the youngster,
As hawks may pounce upon a woodland songster.XXXVI


They err'd, as aged men will do; but by
And by we'll talk of that; and if we don't,
'T will be because our notion is not high
Of politicians and their double front,
Who live by lies, yet dare not boldly lie:
Now, what I love in women is, they won't
Or can't do otherwise than lie, but do it
So well, the very truth seems falsehood to it.XXXVII


And, after all, what is a lie? 'Tis but
The truth in masquerade; and I defy
Historians, heroes, lawyers, priests, to put
A fact without some leaven of a lie.
The very shadow of true Truth would shut
Up annals, revelations, poesy,
And prophecy--except it should be dated
Some years before the incidents related.XXXVIII


Prais'd be all liars and all lies! Who now
Can tax my mild Muse with misanthropy?
She rings the World's "Te Deum," and her brow
Blushes for those who will not: but to sigh
Is idle; let us like most others bow,
Kiss hands, feet, any part of Majesty,
After the good example of "Green Erin,"
Whose shamrock now seems rather worse for wearing.XXXIX


Don Juan was presented, and his dress
And mien excited general admiration;
I don't know which was more admir'd or less:
One monstrous diamond drew much observation,
Which Catherine in a moment of "ivresse"
(In love or brandy's fervent fermentation)
Bestow'd upon him, as the public learn'd;
And, to say truth, it had been fairly earn'd.XL


Besides the ministers and underlings,
Who must be courteous to the accredited
Diplomatists of rather wavering kings,
Until their royal riddle's fully read,
The very clerks--those somewhat dirty springs
Of Office, or the House of Office, fed
By foul corruption into streams--even they
Were hardly rude enough to earn their pay.XLI


And insolence no doubt is what they are
Employ'd for, since it is their daily labour,
In the dear offices of peace or war;
And should you doubt, pray ask of your next neighbour,
When for a passport, or some other bar
To freedom, he applied (a grief and a bore),
If he found not this spawn of tax-born riches,
Like lap-dogs, the least civil sons of b{-}{-}{-}{-}{-}s.XLII


But Juan was receiv'd with much "empressement" --
These phrases of refinement I must borrow
From our next neighbours' land, where, like a chessman,
There is a move set down for joy or sorrow,
Not only in mere talking, but the press. Man
In islands is, it seems, downright and thorough,
More than on continents--as if the sea
(See Billingsgate) made even the tongue more free.XLIII


And yet the British "Damme" 's rather Attic,
Your continental oaths are but incontinent,
And turn on things which no aristocratic
Spirit would name, and therefore even I won't anent
This subject quote; as it would be schismatic
In politesse, and have a sound affronting in 't;
But "Damme" 's quite ethereal, though too daring--
Platonic blasphemy, the soul of swearing.XLIV


For downright rudeness, ye may stay at home;
For true or false politeness (and scarce that
Now) you may cross the blue deep and white foam:
The first the emblem (rarely though) of what
You leave behind, the next of much you come
To meet. However, 'tis no time to chat
On general topics: poems must confine
Themselves to Unity, like this of mine.XLV


In the great world--which, being interpreted,
Meaneth the West or worst end of a city,
And about twice two thousand people bred
By no means to be very wise or witty,
But to sit up while others lie in bed,
And look down on the Universe with pity--
Juan, as an inveterate patrician,
Was well receiv'd by persons of condition.XLVI


He was a bachelor, which is a matter
Of import both to virgin and to bride,
The former's hymeneal hopes to flatter;
And (should she not hold fast by love or pride)
'Tis also of some momemt to the latter:
A rib's a thorn in a wed gallant's side,
Requires decorum, and is apt to double
The horrid sin--and what's still worse the trouble.XLVII


But Juan was a bachelor--of arts,
And parts, and hearts: he danc'd and sung, and had
An air as sentimental as Mozart's
Softest of melodies; and could be sad
Or cheerful, without any "flaws or starts,"
Just at the proper time; and though a lad,
Had seen the world--which is a curious sight,
And very much unlike what people write.XLVIII


Fair virgins blush'd upon him; wedded dames
Bloom'd also in less transitory hues;
For both commodities dwell by the Thames
The painting and the painted; Youth, Ceruse,
Against his heart preferr'd their usual claims,
Such as no gentleman can quite refuse;
Daughters admir'd his dress, and pious mothers
Inquir'd his income, and if he had brothers.XLIX


The milliners who furnish "drapery Misses"
Throughout the season, upon speculation
Of payment ere the Honeymoon's last kisses
Have wan'd into a crescent's coruscation,
Thought such an opportunity as this is,
Of a rich foreigner's initiation,
Not to be overlook'd--and gave such credit,
That future bridegrooms swore, and sigh'd, and paid it.L


The Blues, that tender tribe, who sigh o'er sonnets,
And with the pages of the last Review
Line the interior of their heads or bonnets,
Advanc'd in all their azure's highest hue:
They talk'd bad French or Spanish, and upon its
Late authors ask'd him for a hint or two;
And which was softest, Russian or Castilian?
And whether in his travels he saw Ilion?LI


Juan, who was a little superficial,
And not in literature a great Drawcansir,
Examin'd by this learned and especial
Jury of matrons, scarce knew what to answer:
His duties warlike, loving or official,
His steady application as a dancer,
Had kept him from the brink of Hippocrene,
Which now he found was blue instead of green.LII


However, he replied at hazard, with
A modest confidence and calm assurance,
Which lent his learned lucubrations pith,
And pass'd for arguments of good endurance.
That prodigy, Miss Araminta Smith
(Who at sixteen translated "Hercules Furens"
Into as furious English), with her best look,
Set down his sayings in her common-place book.LIII


Juan knew several languages--as well
He might--and brought them up with skill, in time
To save his fame with each accomplish'd belle,
Who still regretted that he did not rhyme.
There wanted but this requisite to swell
His qualities (with them) into sublime:
Lady Fitz-Frisky, and Miss M{ae}via Mannish,
Both long'd extremely to be sung in Spanish.LIV


However, he did pretty well, and was
Admitted as an aspirant to all
The coteries, and, as in Banquo's glass,
At great assemblies or in parties small,
He saw ten thousand living authors pass,
That being about their average numeral;
Also the eighty "greatest living poets,"
As every paltry magazine can show it's .LV


In twice five years the "greatest living poet,"
Like to the champion in the fisty ring,
Is call'd on to support his claim, or show it,
Although 'tis an imaginary thing,
Even I--albeit I'm sure I did not know it,
Nor sought of foolscap subjects to be king--
Was reckon'd, a considerable time,
The grand Napoleon of the realms of rhyme.LVI


But Juan was my Moscow, and Faliero
My Leipsic, and my Mont Saint Jean seem Cain:
"La Belle Alliance" of dunces down at zero,
Now that the Lion's fall'n, may rise again,
But I will fall at least as fell my hero;
Nor reign at all, or as a monarch reign;
Or to some lonely isle of jailors go,
With turncoat Southey for my turnkey Lowe.LVII


Sir Walter reign'd before me; Moore and Campbell
Before and after; but now grown more holy,
The Muses upon Sion's hill must ramble
With poets almost clergymen, or wholly;
And Pegasus has a psalmodic amble
Beneath the very Reverend Rowley Powley,
Who shoes the glorious animal with stilts,
A modern Ancient Pistol--"by the hilts!"LVIII


Still he excels that artificial hard
Labourer in the same vineyard, though the vine
Yields him but vinegar for his reward--
That neutralis'd dull Dorus of the Nine;
That swarthy Sporus, neither man nor bard;
That ox of verse, who ploughs for every line:
Cambyses' roaring Romans beat at least
The howling Hebrews of Cybele's priest.LIX


Then there's my gentle Euphues, who, they say,
Sets up for being a sort of moral me ;
He'll find it rather difficult some day
To turn out both, or either, it may be.
Some persons think that Coleridge hath the sway;
And Wordsworth has supporters, two or three;
And that deep-mouth'd Bœotian "Savage Landor"
Has taken for a swan rogue Southey's gander.LX


John Keats, who was kill'd off by one critique,
Just as he really promis'd something great,
If not intelligible, without Greek
Contriv'd to talk about the gods of late,
Much as they might have been suppos'd to speak.
Poor fellow! His was an untoward fate;
'Tis strange the mind, that very fiery particle,
Should let itself be snuff'd out by an article.LXI


The list grows long of live and dead pretenders
To that which none will gain--or none will know
The conqueror at least; who, ere Time renders
His last award, will have the long grass grow
Above his burnt-out brain, and sapless cinders.
If I might augur, I should rate but low
Their chances; they're too numerous, like the thirty
Mock tyrants, when Rome's annals wax'd but dirty.LXII


This is the literary lower empire,
Where the pr{ae}torian bands take up the matter;
A "dreadful trade," like his who "gathers samphire,"
The insolent soldiery to soothe and flatter,
With the same feelings as you'd coax a vampire,
Now, were I once at home, and in good satire,
I'd try conclusions with those Janizaries,
And show them what an intellectual war is.LXIII


I think I know a trick or two, would turn
Their flanks; but it is hardly worth my while,
With such small gear to give myself concern:
Indeed I've not the necessary bile;
My natural temper's really aught but stern,
And even my Muse's worst reproof's a smile;
And then she drops a brief and modern curtsy,
And glides away, assur'd she never hurts ye.LXIV


My Juan, whom I left in deadly peril
Amongst live poets and blue ladies, pass'd
With some small profit through that field so sterile,
Being tir'd in time, and, neither least nor last,
Left it before he had been treated very ill;
And henceforth found himself more gaily class'd
Amongst the higher spirits of the day,
The sun's true son, no vapour, but a ray.LXV


His morns he pass'd in business--which dissected,
Was, like all business, a laborious nothing
That leads to lassitude, the most infected
And Centaur-Nessus garb of mortal clothing,
And on our sofas makes us lie dejected,
And talk in tender horrors of our loathing
All kinds of toil, save for our country's good--
Which grows no better, though 'tis time it should.LXVI


His afternoons he pass'd in visits, luncheons,
Lounging and boxing; and the twilight hour
In riding round those vegetable puncheons
Call'd "Parks," where there is neither fruit nor flower
Enough to gratify a bee's slight munchings;
But after all it is the only "bower"
(In Moore's phrase) where the fashionable fair
Can form a slight acquaintance with fresh air.LXVII


Then dress, then dinner, then awakes the world!
Then glare the lamps, then whirl the wheels, then roar
Through street and square fast flashing chariots hurl'd
Like harness'd meteors; then along the floor
Chalk mimics painting; then festoons are twirl'd;
Then roll the brazen thunders of the door,
Which opens to the thousand happy few
An earthly Paradise of "Or Molu."LXVIII


There stands the noble hostess, nor shall sink
With the three-thousandth curtsy; there the waltz,
The only dance which teaches girls to think,
Makes one in love even with its very faults.
Saloon, room, hall, o'erflow beyond their brink,
And long the latest of arrivals halts,
'Midst royal dukes and dames condemn'd to climb,
And gain an inch of staircase at a time.LXIX


Thrice happy he who, after a survey
Of the good company, can win a corner,
A door that's in or boudoir out of the way,
Where he may fix himself like small "Jack Horner,"
And let the Babel round run as it may,
And look on as a mourner, or a scorner,
Or an approver, or a mere spectator,
Yawning a little as the night grows later.LXX


But this won't do, save by and by; and he
Who, like Don Juan, takes an active share
Must steer with care through all that glittering sea
Of gems and plumes and pearls and silks, to where
He deems it is his proper place to be;
Dissolving in the waltz to some soft air,
Or proudlier prancing with mercurial skill,
Where Science marshals forth her own quadrille.LXXI


Or, if he dance not, but hath higher views
Upon an heiress or his neighbour's bride,
Let him take care that that which he pursues
Is not at once too palpably descried.
Full many an eager gentleman oft rues
His haste; impatience is a blundering guide
Amongst a people famous for reflection,
Who like to play the fool with circumspection.LXXII


But, if you can contrive, get next at supper;
Or, if forestalled, get opposite and ogle:
Oh, ye ambrosial moments! always upper
In mind, a sort of sentimental bogle,
Which sits for ever upon Memory's crupper,
The ghost of vanish'd pleasures once in vogue! Ill
Can tender souls relate the rise and fall
Of hopes and fears which shake a single ball.LXXIII


But these precautionary hints can touch
Only the common run, who must pursue,
And watch and ward; whose plans a word too much
Or little overturns; and not the few
Or many (for the number's sometimes such)
Whom a good mien, especially if new,
Or fame, or name, for wit, war, sense or nonsense,
Permits whate'er they please, or did not long since.LXXIV


Our hero, as a hero young and handsome,
Noble, rich, celebrated, and a stranger,
Like other slaves of course must pay his ransom
Before he can escape from so much danger
As will environ a conspicuous man. Some
Talk about poetry, and "rack and manger,"
And ugliness, disease, as toil and trouble--
I wish they knew the life of a young noble.LXXV


They are young, but know not youth--it is anticipated;
Handsome but wasted, rich without a sou;
Their vigour in a thousand arms is dissipated;
Their cash comes from , their wealth goes to a Jew;
Both senates see their nightly votes participated
Between the tyrant's and the tribunes' crew;
And having voted, din'd, drunk, gam'd and whor'd,
The family vault receives another lord.LXXVI


"Where is the World," cries Young, "at eighty ? Where
The World in which a man was born?" Alas!
Where is the world of eight years past? 'Twas there --
I look for it--'tis gone, a Globe of Glass!
Crack'd, shiver'd, vanish'd, scarcely gaz'd on, ere
A silent change dissolves the glittering mass.
Statesmen, chiefs, orators, queens, patriots, kings,
And dandies--all are gone on the wind's wings.LXXVII


Where is Napoleon the Grand? God knows:
Where little Castlereagh? The devil can tell:
Where Grattan, Curran, Sheridan, all those
Who bound the Bar or Senate in their spell?
Where is the unhappy Queen, with all her woes?
And where the Daughter, whom the Isles lov'd well?
Where are those martyr'd saints the Five per Cents?
And where--oh, where the devil are the Rents?LXXVIII


Where's Brummell? Dish'd. Where's Long Pole Wellesley? Diddled.
Where's Whitbread? Romilly? Where's George the Third?
Where is his will? (That's not so soon unriddled.)
And where is "Fum" the Fourth, our "royal bird"?
Gone down, it seems, to Scotland to be fiddled
Unto by Sawney's violin, we have heard:
"Caw me, caw thee"--for six months hath been hatching
This scene of royal itch and loyal scratching.LXXIX


Where is Lord This? And where my Lady That?
The Honourable Mistresses and Misses?
Some laid aside like an old Opera hat,
Married, unmarried, and remarried (this is
An evolution oft perform'd of late).
Where are the Dublin shouts--and London hisses?
Where are the Grenvilles? Turn'd as usual. Where
My friends the Whigs? Exactly where they were.LXXX


Where are the Lady Carolines and Franceses?
Divorc'd or doing thereanent. Ye annals
So brilliant, where the list of routs and dances is,
Thou Morning Post, sole record of the panels
Broken in carriages, and all the phantasies
Of fashion, say what streams now fill those channels?
Some die, some fly, some languish on the Continent,
Because the times have hardly left them one tenant.LXXXI


Some who once set their caps at cautious dukes,
Have taken up at length with younger brothers:
Some heiresses have bit at sharpers' hooks:
Some maids have been made wives, some merely mothers:
Others have lost their fresh and fairy looks:
In short, the list of alterations bothers.
There's little strange in this, but something strange is
The unusual quickness of these common changes.LXXXII


Talk not of seventy years as age! in seven
I have seen more changes, down from monarchs to
The humblest individuals under heaven,
Than might suffice a moderate century through.
I knew that nought was lasting, but now even
Change grows too changeable, without being new:
Nought's permanent among the human race,
Except the Whigs not getting into place.LXXXIII


I have seen Napoleon, who seem'd quite a Jupiter,
Shrink to a Saturn. I have seen a Duke
(No matter which) turn politician stupider,
If that can well be, than his wooden look.
But it is time that I should hoist my "blue Peter,"
And sail for a new theme: I have seen--and shook
To see it--the King hiss'd, and then caress'd;
But don't pretend to settle which was best.LXXXIV


I have seen the Landholders without a rap--
I have seen Joanna Southcote--I have seen
The House of Commons turn'd to a taxtrap--
I have seen that sad affair of the late Queen--
I have seen crowns worn instead of a fool's cap--
I have seen a Congress doing all that's mean--
I have seen some nations, like o'erloaded asses,
Kick off their burthens--meaning the high classes.LXXXV


I have seen small poets, and great prosers, and
Interminable-- not eternal --speakers--
I have seen the funds at war with house and land--
I have seen the country gentlemen turn squeakers--
I have seen the people ridden o'er like sand
By slaves on horseback--I have seen malt liquors
Exchang'd for "thin potations" by John Bull--
I have seen John half detect himself a fool.LXXXVI


But "carpe diem," Juan, "carpe, carpe!"
To-morrow sees another race as gay
And transient, and devour'd by the same harpy.
"Life's a poor player"--then "play out the play,
Ye villains!" and above all keep a sharp eye
Much less on what you do than what you say:
Be hypocritical, be cautious, be
Not what you seem , but always what you see .LXXXVII


But how shall I relate in other cantos
Of what befell our hero in the land,
Which 'tis the common cry and lie to vaunt as
A moral country? But I hold my hand--
For I disdain to write an Atalantis;
But 'tis as well at once to understand,
You are not a moral people, and you know it,
Without the aid of too sincere a poet.LXXXVIII


What Juan saw and underwent shall be
My topic, with of course the due restriction
Which is requir'd by proper courtesy;
And recollect the work is only fiction,
And that I sing of neither mine nor me,
Though every scribe, in some slight turn of diction,
Will hint allusions never meant . Ne'er doubt
This --when I speak, I don't hint , but speak out .LXXXIX


Whether he married with the third or fourth
Offspring of some sage husband-hunting countess,
Or whether with some virgin of more worth
(I mean in Fortune's matrimonial bounties),
He took to regularly peopling Earth,
Of which your lawful, awful wedlock fount is--
Or whether he was taken in for damages,
For being too excursive in his homages--XC


Is yet within the unread events of time.
Thus far, go forth, thou Lay, which I will back
Against the same given quantity of rhyme,
For being as much the subject of attack
As ever yet was any work sublime,
By those who love to say that white is black.
So much the better!--I may stand alone,
But would not change my free thoughts for a throne.

poem by Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Poetry Lover
Comment! | Vote! | Copy!

Share
 

Search


Recent searches | Top searches