Why speak of Rajah rubies,
And roses of the South?
I know a sweeter crimson
A baby's mouth.
Why speak of Sultan sapphires
And violet seas and skies?
I know a lovelier azure
A baby's eyes.
Go seek the wide world over!
Search every land and mart!
You 'll never find a pearl like this
A baby's heart.
She took her babe, the child of shame and sin,
And wrapped it warmly in her shawl and went
From house to house for work. Propriety bent
A look of wonder on her; raised a din
Of Christian outrage. None would take her in.
All that she had was gone; had long been spent.
Penniless and hungry by the road she leant,
No friend to go to and no one of kin.
The babe at last began to cry for food.
Her breasts were dry; she had no milk to give.
She was so tired and cold. What could she do?
... The next day in a pool within a wood
They found the babe.... 'Twas hard enough to live,
She found, for one; impossible for two.
Child And Father
A LITTLE child, one night, awoke and cried,
'Oh, help me, father! there is something wild
Before me! help me!' Hurrying to his side
I answered, 'I am here. You dreamed, my child.'
'A dream? —' he questioned. 'Oh, I could not see!
It was so dark! — Take me into your bed!'—
And I, who loved him, held him soothingly,
And smiling on his terror, comforted.
He nestled in my arms. I held him fast;
And spoke to him and calmed his childish fears,
Until he smiled again, asleep at last,
Upon his lashes still a trace of tears….
How like a child the world! who, in this night
Of strife, beholds strange monsters threatening;
And with black fear, having so little light,
Cries to its Father, God, for comforting.
And well for it, if, answering the call,
The Father hear and soothe its dread asleep! —
How many though, whom thoughts and dreams appall,
Must lie awake and in the darkness weep.
A Maid Who Died Old
Frail, shrunken face, so pinched and worn,
That life has carved with care and doubt!
So weary waiting, night and morn,
For that which never came about!
Pale lamp, so utterly forlorn,
In which God's light at last is out.
Gray hair, that lies so thin and prim
On either side the sunken brows!
And soldered eyes, so deep and dim,
No word of man could now arouse!
And hollow hands, so virgin slim,
Forever clasped in silent vows!
Poor breasts! that God designed for love,
For baby lips to kiss and press;
That never felt, yet dreamed thereof,
The human touch, the child caress-
That lie like shriveled blooms above
The heart's long-perished happiness.
O withered body, Nature gave
For purposes of death and birth,
That never knew, and could but crave
Those things perhaps that make life worth,-
Rest now, alas! within the grave,
Sad shell that served no end on Earth.
The Child At The Gate
THE sunset was a sleepy gold,
And stars were in the skies
When down a weedy lane he strolled
In vague and thoughtless wise.
And then he saw it, near a wood,
An old house, gabled brown,
Like some old woman, in a hood,
Looking toward the town.
A child stood at its broken gate,
Singing a childish song,
And weeping softly as if Fate
Had done her child's heart wrong.
He spoke to her: —'Now tell me, dear,
Why do you sing and weep?'—
But she — she did not seem to hear,
But stared as if asleep.
Then suddenly she turned and fled
As if with soul of fear.
He followed; but the house looked dead,
And empty many a year.
The light was wan: the dying day
Grew ghostly suddenly:
And from the house he turned away,
Wrapped in its mystery.
They told him no one dwelt there now:
It was a haunted place.—
And then it came to him, somehow,
The memory of a face.
That child's — like hers, whose name was Joy —
For whom his heart was fain:
The face of her whom, when a boy,
He played with in that lane.
In The Mountains
The way is rock and rubbish to a road
That leads through woods of stunted oaks and thorns
Into a valley that no flower adorns,
One mass of blackened brier; overflowed
With desolation: whence their mighty load
Of lichened limbs, like two colossal horns,
Two dead trees lift: trees, that the foul earth scorns
To vine with poison, spotted like the toad.
Here, on gaunt boughs, unclean, red-beaked, and bald,
The buzzards settle; roost, since that fierce night
When, torched with pine-knots, grim and shadowy,
Judge Lynch held court here; and the dark, appalled,
Heard words of hollow justice; and the light
Saw, on these trees, dread fruit swing suddenly.
An ox-team, its lean oxen, slow of tread,
Weighed with an old-time yoke, creaked heavily
Along the mountain road. Beside it, three
Walked with no word: A woman with bowed head,
A young girl, old before her youth had fled,
Hugging a sleeping baby; near her knee
A gaunt hound trotted. Any one could see
The wagon held their all, from box to bed.
Slowly they creaked into the mountain town
And asked their way. Their men had all been killed,
Father and brother, at some mountain ball,
This girl the cause: a man had shot them down,
The father of the infant. As God willed,
They sought another State, and that was all.
A Forest Child
There is a place I search for still,
Sequestered as the world of dreams,
A bushy hollow, and a hill
That whispers with descending streams,
Cool, careless waters, wandering down,
Like Innocence who runs to town,
Leaving the wildwood and its dreams,
And prattling like the forest streams.
But still in dreams I meet again
The child who bound me, heart and hand,
And led me with a wildflower chain
Far from our world, to Faeryland:
Who made me see and made me know
The lovely Land of Long-Ago,
Leading me with her little hand
Into the world of Wonderland.
The years have passed: how far away
The day when there I met the child,
The little maid, who was a fay,
Whose eyes were dark and undefiled
And crystal as a woodland well,
That holds within its depths a spell,
Enchantments, featured like a child,
A dream, a poetry undefiled.
Around my heart she wrapped her hair,
And bound my soul with lips and eyes,
And led me to a cavern, where
Grey Legend dwelt in kingly guise,
Her kinsman, dreamier than the moon,
Who called her Fancy, read her rune,
And bade her with paternal eyes
Divest herself of her disguise.
And still I walk with her in dreams,
Though many years have passed since then,
And that high hill and its wild streams
Are lost as is that faery glen.
And as the years go swiftly by
I find it harder, when I try,
To meet with her, who led me then
Into the wildness of that glen.
The Dream Child
There is a place (I know it well)
Where beech trees crowd into a gloom,
And where a twinkling woodland well
Flings from a rock a rippling plume,
And, like a Faun beneath a spell,
The silence breathes of beam and bloom.
And here it was I met with her,
The child I never hoped to see,
Who long had been heart's-comforter,
And soul's-companion unto me,
Telling me oft of myths that were,
And of far faerylands to-be.
She stood there smiling by the pool,
The cascade made below the rocks;
Innocent, naked, beautiful,
The frail gerardia in her locks,
A flower, elfin-sweet and cool,
Freckled as faery four-o -clocks.
Her eyes were rain-bright; and her hair
An amber gleam like that which tips
The golden leaves when Fall comes fair;
And twin red berries were her lips;
Her beauty, pure and young and bare,
Shone like a star from breasts to hips.
Oft had I seen her thus, of old,
In dreams, where she played many parts:
A form, possessing in its mold
The high perfection of all Arts,
With all the hopes to which men hold,
And loves for which they break their hearts.
And she was mine. Within her face
I read' her soul. . . . Then, while she smiled,
A sudden wind swept through the place
And she was gone. My heart beat wild;
The leaves shook and, behold, no trace
Was there of her, the faery child.
Only a ray of gold that hung
Above the water; and a bough,
Rain-bright and berried, low that swung:
Yet, in my heart of hearts, somehow,
I felt (I need not search among
The trees) that she was hiding now.
The Yellow Puccoon
Who could describe you, child of mystery
And silence, born among these solitudes?
Within whose look there is a secrecy,
Old as these wanderingwoods,
And knowledge, cousin to the morning-star,
Beyond the things that mar,
And earth itself that on the soul intrudes.
How many eons what antiquity
Went to your making? When the world was young
You yet were old. What mighty company
Of cosmic forces swung
About you! On what wonders have you gazed
Since first your head was raised
To greet the Power that here your seed-spore flung!
The butterfly that woos you, and the bee
That quits the mandrakes' cups to whisper you,
Are in your confidence and sympathy,
As sunlight is and dew,
And the soft music of this woodland stream,
Telling the trees its dream,
That lean attentive its dim face unto.
With bluet, larkspur, and anemone
Your gold conspires to arrest the eye,
Making it prisoner unto Fantasy
And Vision, none'll deny!
That lead the mind (as children lead the blind
Homeward by ways that wind)
To certainties of love that round it lie.
The tanager, in scarlet livery,
Out-flaunts you not in bravery, amber-bright
As is the little moon of Faërie,
That glows with golden light
From out a firmament of green, as you
From out the moss and dew
Glimmer your starry disc upon my sight.
If I might know you, have you, as the bee
And butterfly, in some more intimate sense
Or, like the brook there talking to the tree,
Win to your confidence
Then might I grasp it, solve it, in some wise,
This riddle in disguise
Named Life, through you and your experience.
The Birthday Party
Had a birthday yesterday.
First one for, I think, a year.
Won't have one again, they say,
Till another year is here.
Funny, don't you think so? I
Can't just understand now why.
Anyhow my birthday came;
And I had, oh! lots of things
Birthday gifts I just can't name,
Even count them: toys and rings;
Hoops and books and hats. Indeed,
Everything that I don't need.
What I wanted was n't suits;
Wooden toys and'Wonderland';
But a hoe to dig up roots;
And a spade to shovel sand;
Rake to rake where father said
He has made a flower-bed.
But I did n't get them; and
Did n't get a box of paints,
Which I wanted. I raised sand,
Till my mother said, 'My saints!
If you don't behave yourself,
Party'll be laid on the shelf.'
So I did behave, and played
With the little girls and boys,
Who just stayed and stayed and stayed,
Played with me and with my toys;
Broke some, too; but, never mind,
Had the best time of its kind.
Had the dinner then. I bet
Y' never saw a finer sight.
A big birthday cake was set,
Thick with icing, round and white,
In the centre of the table,
Looking all that it was able.
On it four pink candles burned:
And we had a lot of fun
When a little girl there turned,
Blew them out, yes, every one,
And I kissed her for it yes
And she liked it, too, I guess.
When I saw my father, why,
All the children then were gone;
Only child around was I.
I was playing on the lawn
By myself when father came,
And he kissed me just the same.
And I asked my father where
Do the birthdays come from, while
He sat in his rocking-chair,
Looking at me with a smile.
Then I asked him where they go
When they're gone. He did n't know.
On Midsummer Night
All the poppies in their beds
Nodding crumpled crimson heads;
And the larkspurs, in whose ears
Twilight hangs, like twinkling tears,
Sleepy jewels of the rain;
All the violets, that strain
Eyes of amethystine gleam;
And the clover-blooms that dream
With pink baby fists closed tight,
They can hear upon this night,
Noiseless as the moon's white light,
Footsteps and the glimmering flight,
Of the Fairies
Every sturdy four-o'clock,
In its variegated frock;
Every slender sweet-pea, too,
In its hood of pearly hue;
Every primrose pale that dozes
By the wall and slow uncloses
A sweet mouth of dewy dawn
In a little silken yawn,
On this night of silvery sheen,
They can see the Fairy Queen,
On her palfrey white, I ween,
Tread dim cirques of haunted green,
With her Fairies.
Never a foxglove bell, you see,
That's a cradle for a bee;
Never a lily, that 's a house
Where the butterfly may drowse;
Never a rosebud or a blossom,
That unfolds its honeyed bosom
To the moth, that nestles deep
And there sucks itself to sleep,
But can hear and also see,
On this night of witchery,
All that world of Faery,
All that world where airily,
Dance the Fairies.
It was last Midsummer Night,
In the moon's uncertain light,
That I stood among the flowers,
And in language unlike ours
Heard them speaking of the Pixies,
Trolls and Gnomes and Water-Nixies;
How in this flow'r's ear a Fay
Hung a gem of rainy ray;
And 'round that flow'r's throat had set
Dim a dewdropp carcanet;
Then among the mignonette
Stretched a cobweb-hammock wet,
For the Fairies.
Long I watched; but never a one,
Ariel, Puck, or Oberon,
Mab or Queen Titania
Fairest of them all they say
Clad in morning-glory hues,
Did I glimpse among the dews.
Only once I thought the torch
Of that elfin-rogue and arch,
Robin Goodfellow, afar
Flashed along a woodland bar
Bright, a jack-o'-lantern star,
A green lamp of firefly spar,
Loved of Fairies.
THE moon, a circle of gold,
O'er the crowded housetops rolled,
And peeped in an attic, where,
'Mid sordid things and bare,
A sick child lay and gazed
At a road to the far-away,
A road he followed, mazed,
That grew from a moonbeam-ray,
A road of light that led
From the foot of his garret-bed
Out of that room of hate,
Where Poverty slept by his mate,
Sickness —out of the street,
Into a wonderland,
Where a voice called, far and sweet,
'Come, follow our Fairy band!'
A purple shadow, sprinkled
With golden star-dust, twinkled
Suddenly into the room
Out of the winter gloom:
And it wore a face to him
Of a dream he'd dreamed: a form
Of Joy, whose face was dim,
Yet bright with a magic charm.
And the shadow seemed to trail,
Sounds that were green and frail:
Dew-dripples; notes that fell
Like drops in a ferny dell;
A whispered lisp and stir,
Like winds among the leaves,
Blent with a cricket-chirr,
And coo of a dove that grieves.
And the Elfin bore on its back
A little faery pack
Of forest scents: of loam
And mossy sounds of foam;
And of its contents breathed
As might a clod of ground
Feeling a bud unsheathed
There in its womb profound.
And the shadow smiled and gazed
At the child; then softly raised
Its arms and seemed to grow
To a tree in the attic low:
And from its glimmering hands
Shook emerald seeds of dreams,
From which grew fairy bands,
Like firefly motes and gleams.
The child had seen them before
In his dreams of Fairy lore:
The Elves, each with a light
To guide his feet a-right,
Out of this world to a world
Where Magic built him towers,
And Fable old, unfurled,
Flags like wonderful flowers.
And the child, who knew this, smiled,
And rose, a different child:
No more he knew of pain,
Or fear of heart and brain. —
At Poverty there that slept
He never even glanced,
But into the moon-road stept,
And out of the garret danced.
Out of the earthly gloom,
Out of the sordid room,
Out, on a moonbeam ray! —
Now at last to play
There with comrades found!
Children of the moon,
There on faery ground,
Where none would find him soon!
O Dark-Eyed goddess of the marble brow,
Whose look is silence and whose touch is night,
Who walkest lonely through the world, O thou,
Who sittest lonely with Life's blown-out light;
Who in the hollow hours of night's noon
Criest like some lost child;
Whose anguish-fevered eyeballs seek the moon
To cool their pulses wild.
Thou who dost bend to kiss Joy's sister cheek,
Turning its rose to alabaster; yea,
Thou who art terrible and mad and meek,
Why in my heart art thou enshrined to-day?
O Sorrow say, O say!
Now Spring is here and all the world is white,
I will go forth, and where the forest robes
Itself in green, and every hill and height
Crowns its fair head with blossoms, spirit globes
Of hyacinth and crocus dashed with dew,
I will forget my grief,
And thee, O Sorrow, gazing on the blue,
Beneath a last year's leaf,
Of some brief violet the south wind woos,
Or bluet, whence the west wind raked the snow;
The baby eyes of love, the darling hues
Of happiness, that thou canst never know,
O child of pain and woe.
On some hoar upland, sweet with clustered thorns,
Hard by a river's windy white of waves,
I shall sit down with Spring, whose eyes are morns
Of light; whose cheeks the rose of health enslaves,
And so forget thee braiding in her hair
The snowdrop, tipped with green,
The cool-eyed primrose and the trillium fair,
And moony celandine.
Contented so to lie within her arms,
Forgetting all the sear and sad and wan,
Remembering love alone, who o'er earth's storms,
High on the mountains of perpetual dawn,
Leads the glad hours on.
Or in the peace that follows storm, when Even,
Within the west, stands dreaming lone and far,
Clad on with green and silver, and the Heaven
Is brightly brooched with one gold-glittering star.
I will lie down beside some mountain lake,
'Round which the tall pines sigh,
And breathing musk of rain from boughs that shake
Storm balsam from on high,
Make friends of Dream and Contemplation high
And Music, listening to the mocking-bird,
Who through the hush sends its melodious cry,
And so forget a while that other word,
That all loved things must die.
Here is a tale for children and their grannies:
There was a fool, a man who'd had his chances
But missed them, somehow; lost them, just for fancies,
Tag-ends of things with which he'd crammed crannies
Of his cracked head, as panes are crammed with paper:
Fragments of song and bits of worthless writing,
Which he was never weary of reciting,
Fluttered his mind as night a windy taper.
A witless fool! who lived in some fair Venice
Of his own building where he dreamed of Beauty:
Who swore each weed a flower the sorry pauper!
This would not do. Men said he was a menace
To all mankind; and, as it was their duty,
Clapped him in prison where he died as proper.
Here is a tale for prelates and for parsons:
There was a scarecrow once, a thing of tatters
And sticks and straw, to whom men trusted matters
Of weighty moment murders, thefts and arsons.
None saw he was a scarecrow. Every worship
And honour his. Men set him in high places,
And ladies primped their bodies, tinged their faces,
And kneeled to him as slaves to some great Sirship.
One night a storm, none knew it, blew to pieces
Our jackstraw friend, and the sweet air of heaven
Knew him no more, and was no longer tainted.
Then learned doctors put him in their theses:
The State set up his statue: and thought, even
As thought the Church, perhaps he should be sainted.
Here is a tale for proper men and virgins:
There was a woman once who had a daughter,
A fair-faced wench, as stable as is water,
And frailer than the first spring flower that burgeons.
She did not need to work, but then her mother
Thought it more suitable, and circumspectly
Put her with gentlefolks, where, indirectly,
She rose in service as has many another.
The house she served in soon became divided:
The wife and husband parted, with some scandal:
But she remained and, in the end, was married.
What happened then? You'll say, 'The girl decided
She loved another. 'Nay; not so. The vandal
Wrecked no more homes but lived a life unvaried.
Here is a tale for maidens and for mothers:
There was an ape, a very prince of monkeys,
Who capered in the world of fools and flunkies,
The envy of his set and of all others.
He was the handbook of all social manners:
The beau of beaux, and simian glass of fashion,
To whom all folly functioned, played at passion,
And matrimony waved beleaguering banners.
A girl of girls, one God had given graces
And beauty, more than oft He grants to human,
Captured the creature, and they were united.
And strange to say, she loved him. Saw no traces
Of ape in him. And, like a very woman,
Reformed her countenance, and was delighted.
Here is a tale for uncles and old aunties:
There was a man once who denied the Devil,
Yet in the world saw nothing else but evil;
A pessimist, with face as sour as Dante's.
Still people praised him; men he loathed and hated,
And cursed beneath his breath for wretched sinners,
While still he drank with them and ate their dinners,
And listened to their talk and tolerated.
At last he wrote a book, full of invective
And vile abuse of earth and all its nations,
Denying God and Devil, Heaven and Hades.
Fame followed this. 'His was the right perspective!'
'A great philosopher!' He lost all patience.
But still went out to dine with Lords and Ladies.
Here is a tale for men and women teachers:
There was a girl who'd ceased to be a maiden;
Who walked by night with heart like Lilith's laden;
A child of sin anathemaed of preachers.
She had been lovely once; but dye and scarlet,
On hair and face, had ravaged all her beauty;
Only her eyes still did her girl-soul duty,
Showing the hell that hounded her poor harlot!
One day a fisherman from out the river
Fished her pale body, (like a branch of willlow,
Or golden weed) self-murdered, drowned and broken:
The sight of it had made a strong man shiver;
And on her poor breast, as upon a pillow,
A picture smiled, a baby's, like some token
Here is a tale for gossips and chaste people:
There lived a woman once, a straight-laced lady,
Whose only love was slander. Nothing shady
Escaped her vulture eye. Like some prim steeple
Her course of life pointed to Heaven ever;
And woe unto the sinner, girl or woman,
Whom love undid. She was their fiercest foeman.
No circumstance excused. Misfortune, never....
As she had lived she died. The mourners gathered:
Parson and preacher, this one and another,
And many gossips of most proper carriage.
Her will was read. And then... a child was fathered.
Fat Lechery had his day.... She'd been a mother.
A man was heir.... There'd never been a marriage.
Here is a tale for infants and old nurses:
There was a man who gathered rags; and peddled:
Who lived alone: with no one ever meddled:
And this old man was very fond of verses.
His house, a ruin, so the tale rehearses;
A hovel over-run of rats and vermin;
Not fit for beast to live in. (Like a sermon
Embodying misery and hell and curses.)
There, one grey dawn of rain and windy weather,
They found him dead; starved; o'er a written paper;
Beside a dim and half-expiring taper:
It was a play, the poor fool'd put together,
Of gnomes and fairies, for his own sad pleasure:
And folks destroyed it, saying, 'We seek for treasure.'
Here is a tale for artists and for writers:
There was an ass, in other words, a critic,
Who brayed and balked and kicked most analytic,
And waved long ears above his brother smiters.
He could not tell a rose-tree from a thistle,
But oft mistook the one thing for the other;
Then wagged his ears most wisely at some brother,
Sent him his he-haw for the Penny Whistle.
A poet sent his volume to him' kindly
Asking for criticism. You might know it:
He made one mouthful of it, weed and flower.
There rose a cry that he had done it blindly.
'Twas poetry! What! would he kill a poet!
Not he! The ass had brayed him into power.
Here is a tale for any one who wishes:
There grew a cabbage once among the flowers,
A plain, broad cabbage a good wench, whose hours
Were kitchen-busy with plebeian dishes.
The rose and lily, toilless, without mottle,
Patricians born, despised her: 'How unpleasant!'
They cried;'What odour! Worse than any peasant
Who soils God's air! Give us our smelling- bottle.'
There came a gentleman who owned the garden,
Looking about him at both flower and edible,
Admiring here and there; a simple sinner,
Who sought some bud to be his heart's sweet warden:
But passed the flowers and took it seems incredible!
That cabbage! But a man must have his dinner.
Here is a tale for all who wish to listen:
There was a thief who, in his cut-throat quarter,
Was hailed as chief; he had a way of barter,
Persuasion, masked, behind a weapon's glisten,
That made it cockrow with each good man's riches.
At last he joined the Brotherhood of Murder,
And rose in his profession; lived a herder
Of crime in some dark tavern of the ditches.
There was a war. He went. Became a gunner.
And slew, as soldiers should, his many a hundred,
In authorized and most professional manner.
Here he advanced again. Was starred a oner.
Was captained, pensioned, and nobody wondered;
And lived and died respectable as a tanner.
Death And The Fool
Here is a tale for any man or woman:
A fool sought Death; and braved him with his bauble
Among the graves. At last he heard a hobble,
And something passed him, monstrous, super-human.
And by a tomb, that reared a broken column,
He heard it stop. And then Gargantuan laughter
Shattered the hush. Deep silence followed after,
Filled with the stir of bones, cadaverous, solemn.
Then said the fool:'Come! show thyself, old prancer!
I'll have a bout with thee. I, too, can clatter
My wand and motley. Come now! Death and Folly,
See who's the better man.' There was no answer;
Only his bauble broke; a serious matter
To the poor fool who died of melancholy.
Here is a tale for poets and for players:
There was a bagpipe once, that wheezed and whistled,
And droned vile discords, notes that fairly bristled,
Nasal and harsh, outbraying all the brayers.
And then the thing assumed another bearing:
Boasted itself an organ of God's making,
A world-enduring instrument, Earth-shaking,
Greater than any organ, more sky-daring.
To prove which, lo, upon an elevation
It pranced and blew to its own satisfaction,
Until 'twas heard from Key West far as Fundy.
But while it piped, some schoolboy took occasion
There was a blow; a sudden sharp impaction;
The wind-bag burst... Sic transit gloria mundi.
Here is a tale for farmer and for peasant:
There was an ox, who might have ploughed for Jason,
So strong was he, his huge head like a bason,
A Gothic helmet with enormous crescent.
Stolid of look and slow of hoof and steady,
Meek was the beast and born but to be driven,
Unmindful of the yoke which toil had given,
Toil with his goad and lash for ever ready.
One day a bull, who was the bullock's neighbor,
Proud as a sultan haremed with his women,
Lowed to the ox who had received a beating:
'You are a fool! What have you for your labour?
Blows and bad food! Go to. Why don't you show men?'
The ox was but an ox and went on eating.
Here is a tale for spinsters at their sewing:
There was a goose, a little gosling surely,
Who went her goose-girl way and looked demurely
As every goose should when 'tis wise and knowing.
Proper was she as every gosling should be,
And innocent as Margarete or Gretchen,
And did her duty in the house and kitchen,
And like a goose was happy as she could be.
Smug was she with a sleek and dove-like dimple,
Great gooseberry eyes and cheeks out of the dairy:
A goose, aye, just a goose, a little dumb thing.
One day the goose was gone. The tale is simple.
She had eloped. 'Twas nothing ordinary.
A married man with children. That was something.
Here is a tale for sportsmen when at table:
There was a boar, like that Atalanta hunted,
Who gorged and snored and, unmolested, grunted,
His fat way through the world as such able.
Huge-jowled and paunched and porcine-limbed and marrowed,
King of his kind, deep in his lair he squatted,
And round him fames of many maidens rotted
Where Licence whelped and Lust her monsters farrowed.
There came a damsel, like the one in Spenser,
A Britomart, as sorcerous as Circe,
Who pierced him with a tract, her spear, and ended
The beast's career. Made him a man; a censor
Of public morals; arbiter of mercy;
And led him by the nose and called him splendid.
Here is a tale for ladies with romances:
There was an owl; composer and musician,
Who looked as wise as if he had a mission,
And at all art cast supercilious glances.
People proclaimed him great because he said it;
And, like the great, he never played, nor printed
His compositions, 'though 'twas whispered, hinted
He'd written something but no one had read it.
Owl-eyed he posed at functions of position,
Hirsute, and eye-glassed, looking analytic,
Opening his mouth to worshipping female knowledge:
And then he married. A woman of ambition.
A singer, teacher, and a musical critic.
Just what he wanted. He became a college.
Here is a tale to tell to rich relations:
There was a toad, a Calibanic monster,
In whose squat head ambition had ensconced her
Most bloated jewel, dear to highest stations.
He was received, though mottled as a lichen
In coat and character, because the creature
Croaked as the devil prompted him, or nature,
And said the right thing both in hall and kitchen.
To each he sang according to their liking,
And purred his flattery in the ear of Leisure,
Cringing attendance on the proud and wealthy.
One day a crane, with features of a Viking,
Swallowed him whole and did it with great pleasure:
His system needed such; toads kept him healthy.
Here is a tale for those who sing with reason:
There was a cricket, troubadouring fellow,
Who chirped his lay, or zoomed it like a 'cello,
Day in, day out, no matter what the season.
Great was his love for his own violining;
He never wearied saying, 'What performing!'
And oft, when through, would ask, 'Was not that charming?'
Then play it over, right from the beginning.
A talent, such as his, should be rewarded,
So thought he, all unconscious of intention
Of any one among the violin sects,
Until by some one, lo, he was regarded;
Lifted, examined; given special mention;
And placed within a case with other insects.
Here is a tale for workmen and their masters:
There was a torrent once that down a mountain
Flashed its resistless way; a foaming fountain,
Basaltic-built, 'twixt cataract-hewn pilasters.
Down from its eagle eyrie nearer, nearer,
Its savage beauty born mid rocks and cedars,
Swept free as tempest, wild as mountain leaders,
Of stars and storms the swiftly moving mirror.
Men found it out; and set to work to tame it;
Put it to pounding rock and rafting lumber;
Made it a carrier of the filth of cities:
Harnessed its joy to engines; tried to shame it;
Saying, 'Be civilized!' and piled their cumber
Upon it; bound it. God of all the Pities!