In Time Of Sickness
Lost Youth, come back again!
Laugh at weariness and pain.
Come not in dreams, but come in truth,
Sweetheart of long ago,
Why do you haunt me so?
Were you not glad to part,
Still Death, that draws so near,
Is it hope you bring, or fear?
Is it only ease of breath,
In Time Of Sorrow
Despair is in the suns that shine,
And in the rains that fall,
This sad forsaken soul of mine
Is weary of them all.
They fall and shine on alien streets
From those I love and know.
I cannot hear amid the heats
The North Sea's freshening flow
The people hurry up and down,
Like ghosts that cannot lie;
And wandering through the phantom town
The weariest ghost am I.
Gone is the glory from the hills,
The autumn sunshine from the mere,
Which mourns for the declining year
In all her tributary rills.
A sense of change obscurely chills
The misty twilight atmosphere,
In which familiar things appear
Like alien ghosts, foreboding ills.
The twilight hour a month ago
Was full of pleasant warmth and ease,
The pearl of all the twenty-four.
Erelong the winter gales shall blow,
Erelong the winter frosts shall freeze -
And oh, that it were June once more!
Magni Nominnus Umbra
St. Andrews! not for ever thine shall be
Merely the shadow of a mighty name,
The remnant only of an ancient fame
Which time has crumbled, as thy rocks the sea.
For thou, to whom was given the earliest key
Of knowledge in this land (and all men came
To learn of thee), shalt once more rise and claim
The glory that of right belongs to thee.
Grey in thine age, there yet in thee abides
The force of youth, to make thyself anew
A name of honour and a place of power.
Arise, then! shake the dust from off thy sides;
Thou shalt have many where thou now hast few;
Again thou shalt be great. Quick come the hour!
In Time Of Doubt
`In the shadow of Thy wings, O Lord of Hosts, whom I extol,
I will put my trust for ever,' so the kingly David sings.
`Thou shalt help me, Thou shalt save me, only
Thou shalt keep me whole,
In the shadow of Thy wings.'
In our ears this voice triumphant, like a blowing trumpet, rings,
But our hearts have heard another, as of funeral bells that toll,
`God of David where to find Thee?' No reply the question brings.
Shadows are there overhead, but they are of the clouds that roll,
Blotting out the sun from sight, and overwhelming earthly things.
Oh, that we might feel Thy presence! Surely we could rest our soul
In the shadow of Thy wings.
After Many Days
The mist hangs round the College tower,
The ghostly street
Is silent at this midnight hour,
Save for my feet.
With none to see, with none to hear,
Downward I go
To where, beside the rugged pier,
The sea sings low.
It sings a tune well loved and known
In days gone by,
When often here, and not alone,
I watched the sky.
That was a barren time at best,
Its fruits were few;
But fruits and flowers had keener zest
And fresher hue.
Life has not since been wholly vain,
And now I bear
Of wisdom plucked from joy and pain
Some slender share.
But, howsoever rich the store,
I'd lay it down,
To feel upon my back once more
The old red gown.
A New Song To An Old Tune - From Victor Hugo
If a pleasant lawn there grow
By the showers caressed,
Where in all the seasons blow
Flowers gaily dressed,
Where by handfuls one may win
Lilies, woodbine, jessamine,
I will make a path therein
For thy feet to rest.
If there live in honour's sway
An all-loving breast
Whose devotion cannot stray,
Never gloom-oppressed -
If this noble breast still wake
For a worthy motive's sake,
There a pillow I will make
For thy head to rest.
If there be a dream of love,
Dream that God has blest,
Yielding daily treasure-trove
Of delightful zest,
With the scent of roses filled,
With the soul's communion thrilled,
There, oh! there a nest I'll build
For thy heart to rest.
The Waster Singing At Midnight
Loud he sang the song Ta Phershon
For his personal diversion,
Sang the chorus U-pi-dee,
Sang about the Barley Bree.
In that hour when all is quiet
Sang he songs of noise and riot,
In a voice so loud and queer
That I wakened up to hear.
Songs that distantly resembled
Those one hears from men assembled
In the old Cross Keys Hotel,
Only sung not half so well.
For the time of this ecstatic
Amateur was most erratic,
And he only hit the key
Once in every melody.
If "he wot prigs wot isn't his'n
Ven he's cotched is sent to prison,"
He who murders sleep might well
Adorn a solitary cell.
But, if no obliging peeler
Will arrest this midnight squealer,
My own peculiar arm of might
Must undertake the job to-night.
Love Recalled In Sleep
There was a time when in your face
There dwelt such power, and in your smile
I know not what of magic grace;
They held me captive for a while.
Ah, then I listened for your voice!
Like music every word did fall,
Making the hearts of men rejoice,
And mine rejoiced the most of all.
At sight of you, my soul took flame.
But now, alas! the spell is fled.
Is it that you are not the same,
Or only that my love is dead?
I know not--but last night I dreamed
That you were walking by my side,
And sweet, as once you were, you seemed,
And all my heart was glorified.
Your head against my shoulder lay,
And round your waist my arm was pressed,
And as we walked a well-known way,
Love was between us both confessed.
But when with dawn I woke from sleep,
And slow came back the unlovely truth,
I wept, as an old man might weep
For the lost paradise of youth.
When one who has wandered out of the way
Which leads to the hills of joy,
Whose heart has grown both cold and grey,
Though it be but the heart of a boy -
When such a one turns back his feet
From the valley of shadow and pain,
Is not the sunshine passing sweet,
When a man grows young again?
How gladly he mounts up the steep hillside,
With strength that is born anew,
And in his veins, like a full springtide,
The blood streams through and through.
And far above is the summit clear,
And his heart to be there is fain,
And all too slowly it comes more near
When a man grows young again.
He breathes the pure sweet mountain breath,
And it widens all his heart,
And life seems no more kin to death,
Nor death the better part.
And in tones that are strong and rich and deep
He sings a grand refrain,
For the soul has awakened from mortal sleep,
When a man grows young again.
A Swinburnian Interlude
Short space shall be hereafter
Ere April brings the hour
Of weeping and of laughter,
Of sunshine and of shower,
Of groaning and of gladness,
Of singing and of sadness,
Of melody and madness,
Of all sweet things and sour.
Sweet to the blithe bucolic
Who knows nor cribs nor crams,
Who sees the frisky frolic
Of lanky little lambs;
But sour beyond expression
To one in deep depression
Who sees the closing session
And imminent exams.
He cannot hear the singing
Of birds upon the bents,
Nor watch the wildflowers springing,
Nor smell the April scents.
He gathers grief with grinding,
Foul food of sorrow finding
In books of dreary binding
And drearier contents.
One hope alone sustains him,
And no more hopes beside,
One trust alone restrains him
From shocking suicide;
He will not play nor palter
With hemlock or with halter,
He will not fear nor falter,
Whatever chance betide.
He knows examinations
Like all things else have ends,
And then come vast vacations
And visits to his friends,
And youth with pleasure yoking,
And joyfulness and joking,
And smilingness and smoking,
For grief to make amends.
Beyond the Cheviots and the Tweed,
Beyond the Firth of Forth,
My memory returns at speed
To Scotland and the North.
For still I keep, and ever shall,
A warm place in my heart for Scotland,
A warm place in my heart for Scotland.
Oh, cruel off St. Andrew's Bay
The winds are wont to blow!
They either rest or gently play,
When there in dreams I go.
And there I wander, young again,
With limbs that do not tire,
Along the coast to Kittock's Den,
With whinbloom all afire.
I climb the Spindle Rock, and lie
And take my doubtful ease,
Between the ocean and the sky,
Derided by the breeze.
Where coloured mushrooms thickly grow,
Like flowers of brittle stalk,
To haunted Magus Muir I go,
By Lady Catherine's Walk.
In dreams the year I linger through,
In that familiar town,
Where all the youth I ever knew,
Burned up and flickered down.
There's not a rock that fronts the sea,
There's not an inland grove,
But has a tale to tell to me
Of friendship or of love.
And so I keep, and ever shall,
The best place in my heart for Scotland,
The best place in my heart for Scotland!
The House Of Sleep
When we have laid aside our last endeavour,
And said farewell to one or two that weep,
And issued from the house of life for ever,
To find a lodging in the house of sleep -
With eyes fast shut, in sunless chambers lying,
With folded arms unmoved upon the breast,
Beyond the noise of sorrow and of crying,
Beyond the dread of dreaming, shall we rest?
Or shall there come at last desire of waking,
To walk again on hillsides that we know,
When sunrise through the cold white mist is breaking,
Or in the stillness of the after-glow?
Shall there be yearning for the sound of voices,
The sight of faces, and the touch of hands,
The will that works, the spirit that rejoices,
The heart that feels, the mind that understands?
Shall dreams and memories crowding from the distance,
Shall ghosts of old ambition or of mirth,
Create for us a shadow of existence,
A dim reflection of the life of earth?
And being dead, and powerless to recover
The substance of the show whereon we gaze,
Shall we be likened to the hapless lover,
Who broods upon the unreturning days?
Not so: for we have known how swift to perish
Is man's delight when youth and health take wing,
Until the winter leaves him nought to cherish
But recollections of a vanished spring.
Dream as we may, desire of life shall never
Disturb our slumbers in the house of sleep.
Yet oh, to think we may not greet for ever
The one or two that, when we leave them, weep!
Come Back To St Andrews
Come back to St. Andrews! Before you went away
You said you would be wretched where you could not see the Bay,
The East sands and the West sands and the castle in the sea
Come back to St. Andrews--St. Andrews and me.
Oh, it's dreary along South Street when the rain is coming down,
And the east wind makes the student draw more close his warm red gown,
As I often saw you do, when I watched you going by
On the stormy days to College, from my window up on high.
I wander on the Lade Braes, where I used to walk with you,
And purple are the woods of Mount Melville, budding new,
But I cannot bear to look, for the tears keep coming so,
And the Spring has lost the freshness which it had a year ago.
Yet often I could fancy, where the pathway takes a turn,
I shall see you in a moment, coming round beside the burn,
Coming round beside the burn, with your swinging step and free,
And your face lit up with pleasure at the sudden sight of me.
Beyond the Rock and Spindle, where we watched the water clear
In the happy April sunshine, with a happy sound to hear,
There I sat this afternoon, but no hand was holding mine,
And the water sounded eerie, though the April sun did shine.
Oh, why should I complain of what I know was bound to be?
For you had your way to make, and you must not think of me.
But a woman's heart is weak, and a woman's joys are few -
There are times when I could die for a moment's sight of you.
It may be you will come again, before my hair is grey
As the sea is in the twilight of a weary winter's day.
When success is grown a burden, and your heart would fain be free,
Come back to St. Andrews--St. Andrews and me.
The City Of Golf
Would you like to see a city given over,
Soul and body, to a tyrannising game?
If you would, there's little need to be a rover,
For St. Andrews is the abject city's name.
It is surely quite superfluous to mention,
To a person who has been here half an hour,
That Golf is what engrosses the attention
Of the people, with an all-absorbing power.
Rich and poor alike are smitten with the fever;
Their business and religion is to play;
And a man is scarcely deemed a true believer,
Unless he goes at least a round a day.
The city boasts an old and learned college,
Where you'd think the leading industry was Greek;
Even there the favoured instruments of knowledge
Are a driver and a putter and a cleek.
All the natives and the residents are patrons
Of this royal, ancient, irritating sport;
All the old men, all the young men, maids and matrons --
The universal populace, in short.
In the morning, when the feeble light grows stronger,
You may see the players going out in shoals;
And when night forbids their playing any longer,
They tell you how they did the different holes.
Golf, golf, golf -- is all the story!
In despair my overburdened spirit sinks,
Till I wish that every golfer was in glory,
And I pray the sea may overflow the links.
One slender, struggling ray of consolation
Sustains me, very feeble though it be:
There are two who still escape infatuation,
My friend M'Foozle's one, the other's me.
As I write the words, M'Foozle enters blushing,
With a brassy and an iron in his hand ....
This blow, so unexpected and so crushing,
Is more than I am able to withstand.
So now it but remains for me to die, sir.
Stay! There is another course I may pursue --
And perhaps upon the whole it would be wiser --
I will yield to fate and be a golfer too!
Thirty Years After
Two old St. Andrews men, after a separation of nearly thirty years, meet by chance at a wayside inn. They interchange experiences; and at length one of them, who is an admirer of Mr. Swinburne's Poems and Ballads, speaks as follows:
If you were now a bejant,
And I a first year man,
We'd grind and grub together
In every kind of weather,
When Winter's snows were regent,
Or when the Spring began;
If you were now a bejant,
And I a first year man.
If you were what you once were,
And I the same man still,
You'd be the gainer by it,
For you—you can't deny it—
A most uncommon dunce were;
My profit would be nil,
If you were what you once were,
And I the same man still.
If you were last in Latin,
And I were first in Greek,
I'd write your Latin proses,
While you indulged in dozes,
Or carved the bench you sat in,
So innocent and meek;
If you were last in Latin,
And I were first in Greek.
If I had got a prize, Jim,
And your certif. was bad,
And you were filled with sorrow
And brooding on the morrow,
I'd gently sympathise, Jim,
And bid you not be sad,
If I had got a prize, Jim,
And your certif. was bad.
If I were through in Moral,
And you were spun in Math.,
I'd break it to your parent,
When you confessed you daren't,
And so avert a quarrel
And smooth away his wrath;
If I were through in Moral,
And you were spun in Math.
My prospects rather shone, Jim,
And yours were rather dark,
And those who knew us both then
Would often take their oath then,
That you would not get on, Jim,
While I should make my mark;
My prospects rather shone, Jim,
And yours were rather dark.
Yet somehow you've made money,
And I am still obscure;
Your face is round and red, Jim,
While I look underfed, Jim;
The thing's extremely funny,
And beats me, I am sure,
Yet somehow you've made money,
And I am still obscure.
Love's Worship Restored
O Love, thine empire is not dead,
Nor will we let thy worship go,
Although thine early flush be fled,
Thine ardent eyes more faintly glow,
And thy light wings be fallen slow
Since when as novices we came
Into the temple of thy name.
Not now with garlands in our hair,
And singing lips, we come to thee.
There is a coldness in the air,
A dulness on the encircling sea,
Which doth not well with songs agree.
And we forget the words we sang
When first to thee our voices rang.
When we recall that magic prime,
We needs must weep its early death.
How pleasant from thy towers the chime
Of bells, and sweet the incense breath
That rose while we, who kept thy faith,
Chanting our creed, and chanting bore
Our offerings to thine altar store!
Now are our voices out of tune,
Our gifts unworthy of thy name.
December frowns, in place of June.
Who smiled when to thy house we came,
We who came leaping, now are lame.
Dull ears and failing eyes are ours,
And who shall lead us to thy towers?
O hark! A sound across the air,
Which tells not of December's cold,
A sound most musical and rare.
Thy bells are ringing as of old,
With silver throats and tongues of gold.
Alas! it is too sweet for truth,
An empty echo of our youth.
Nay, never echo spake so loud!
It is indeed thy bells that ring.
And lo, against the leaden cloud,
Thy towers! Once more we leap and spring,
Once more melodiously we sing,
We sing, and in our song forget
That winter lies around us yet.
Oh, what is winter, now we know,
Full surely, thou canst never fail?
Forgive our weak untrustful woe,
Which deemed thy glowing face grown pale.
We know thee, mighty to prevail.
Doubt and decrepitude depart,
And youth comes back into the heart.
O Love, who turnest frost to flame
With ardent and immortal eyes,
Whose spirit sorrow cannot tame,
Nor time subdue in any wise -
While sun and moon for us shall rise,
Oh, may we in thy service keep
Till in thy faith we fall asleep!
A Lover's Confession
When people tell me they have loved
But once in youth,
I wonder, are they always moved
To speak the truth?
Not that they wilfully deceive:
They fondly cherish
A constancy which they would grieve
To think might perish.
They cherish it until they think
`Twas always theirs.
So, if the truth they sometimes blink,
Yet unawares, I must profess,
They do deceive
Themselves, and those who questionless
Their tale believe.
For I have loved, I freely own,
A score of times,
And woven, out of love alone,
A hundred rhymes.
Boys will be fickle. Yet, when all
Is said and done,
I was not one whom you could call
A flirt--not one
Of those who into three or four
Their hearts divide.
My queens came singly to the door,
Not side by side.
Each, while she reigned, possessed alone
My spirit loyal,
Then left an undisputed throne
To one more royal,
To one more fair in form and face
Sweeter and stronger,
Who filled the throne with truer grace,
And filled it longer.
So, love by love, they came and passed,
These loves of mine,
And each one brighter than the last
Their lights did shine.
Until--but am I not too free,
Most courteous stranger,
With secrets which belong to me?
There is a danger.
Until, I say, the perfect love,
The last, the best,
Like flame descending from above,
Kindled my breast,
Kindled my breast like ardent flame,
With quenchless glow.
I knew not love until it came,
But now I know.
You smile. The twenty loves before
Were each in turn,
You say, the final flame that o'er
My soul should burn.
Smile on, my friend. I will not say
You have no reason;
But if the love I feel to-day
Depart, `tis treason!
If this depart, not once again
Will I on paper
Declare the loves that waste and wane,
Like some poor taper.
No, no! This flame, I cannot doubt,
Despite your laughter,
Will burn till Death shall put it out,
And may be after.
The Science Club
Hurrah for the Science Club!
Join it, ye fourth year men;
Join it, thou smooth-cheeked scrub,
Whose years scarce number ten
Join it, divines most grave;
Science, as all men know,
As a friend the Church may save,
But may damage her as a foe.
(And in any case it is well,
If attacking insidious doubt,
Or devoting H—- to H—-,
To know what you're talking about.)
Hurrah for the lang-nebbit word!
Hurrah for the erudite phrase,
That in Dura Den shall be heard,
That shall echo on Kinkell Braes!
Hurrah for the spoils of the links
(The golf-ball as well as the daisy)!
Hurrah for explosions and stinks
To set half the landladies crazy!
Hurrah for the fragments of boulders,
Surpassing in size and in weight,
To be carried home on the shoulders
And laid on the table in state!
Hurrah for the flying-machine
Long buried from sight in a cupboard,
With bones that would never have been
Desired of old Mother Hubbard!
Hurrah for the hazardous boat,
For the crabs (of all kinds) to be caught,
For the eggs on the surface that float,
And the lump-sucker curiously wrought!
Hurrah for the filling of tanks
In the shanty down by the shore,
For the Royal Society's thanks,
With Fellowships flying galore!
Hurrah for discourses on worms,
Where one listens and comes away
With a stock of bewildering terms,
And nothing whatever to pay!
Hurrah for gadding about
Of a Saturday afternoon,
In the light of research setting out,
Coming home in the light of the moon!
Hurrah for Guardbridge, and the mill
Where one learns how paper is made!
Hurrah for the samples that fill
One's drawer with the finest cream-laid!
Hurrah for the Brewery visit
And beer in liberal doses!
In the cause of Science, what is it
But inspecting a technical process?
Hurrah for a trip to Dundee
To study the spinning of jute!
Hurrah for a restaurant tea,
And a sight of the Tay Bridge to boot!
Hurrah, after every excursion,
To feel one's improving one's mind,
With the smallest amount of exertion,
And that of the pleasantest kind!
Reflections Of A Magistrand
on returning to St. Andrews
In the hard familiar horse-box I am sitting once again;
Creeping back to old St. Andrews comes the slow North British train,
Bearing bejants with their luggage (boxes full of heavy books,
Which the porter, hot and tipless, eyes with unforgiving looks),
Bearing third year men and second, bearing them and bearing me,
Who am now a fourth year magnate with two parts of my degree.
We have started off from Leuchars, and my thoughts have started too
Back to times when this sensation was entirely fresh and new.
When I marvelled at the towers beyond the Eden's wide expanse,
Eager-hearted as a boy when first he leaves his father's manse
With some money in his pocket, with some down upon his cheek,
With the elements of Latin, with the rudiments of Greek.
And his spirit leaps within him to be gone before him then,
Underneath the towers he looks at, in among the throngs of men,
Men from Fife and men from Forfar, from the High School of Dundee,
Ten or twelve from other counties, and from England two or three.
Oh, the Bursary Competition! oh, the wonder and the rage,
When I saw my name omitted from the schedule in the cage!
Grief is strong but youth elastic, and I rallied from the blow,
For I felt that there were few things in the world I did not know.
Then my ready-made opinions upon all things under heaven
I declaimed with sound and fury, to an audience of eleven
Gathered in the Logic class-room, sworn to settle the debate,
Does the Stage upon the whole demoralise or elevate?
This and other joys I tasted. I became a Volunteer,
Murmuring Dulce et decorum in the Battery-Sergeant's ear;
Joined the Golf Club, and with others of an afternoon was seen
Vainly searching in the whins, or foozling on the putting-green;
Took a minor part in Readings; lifted up my voice and sang
At the Musical rehearsals, till the class-room rafters rang;
Wrote long poems for the Column; entered for the S. R. C,
And, if I remember rightly, was thrown out by twenty-three;
Ground a little for my classes, till the hour of nine or ten,
When I read a decent novel or went out to see some men.
So I reaped the large experience which has made me what I am,
Far removed from bejanthood as is St. Andrews from Siam.
But with age and with experience disenchantment comes to all,
Even pleasure on the keenest appetite at last will pall.
Had I now a hundred pounds, a hundred pounds would I bestow
To enjoy the loud solatium as I did three years ago,
When the songs were less familiar, less familiar too the pies,
And I did not mind receiving orange-peel between the eyes.
Yet, in spite of disenchantment, and in spite of finding out
There are some things in the world that I am hardly sure about,
Still sufficient of illusion and inexplicable grace
Hangs about the grey old town to make it a delightful place.
Though solatiums charm no longer, though a gaudeamus fails
With its atmosphere unwholesome to expand my spirit's sails,
Though rectorial elections are if anything a bore,
And I do not care to carry dripping torches any more,
Though my soul for Moral lectures does not vehemently yearn,
Though the north-east winds are bitter—I am willing to return.
At this point in my reflections, on the left the Links expand,
Many a whin bush full of prickles, many a bunker full of sand.
And I see distinguished club-men, whom I only know by sight,
Old, obese, and scarlet-coated, playing golf with all their might;
As they were three years ago, when first I travelled by this train,
As they will be three years hence, if I should come this way again.
What to them is train or traveller? what to them the flight of time?
But we draw too near the station to indulge in the sublime.
In a minute at the furthest on the platform I shall stand,
Waiting till they take my trunk out, with my hat-box in my hand.
As the railway train approaches and the train of thought recedes,
I behold Professor —- in a brand new suit of tweeds.
Adventure Of A Poet
As I was walking down the street
A week ago,
Near Henderson's I chanced to meet
A man I know.
His name is Alexander Bell,
His home, Dundee;
I do not know him quite so well
As he knows me.
He gave my hand a hearty shake,
Discussed the weather,
And then proposed that we should take
A stroll together.
Down College Street we took our way,
And there we met
The beautiful Miss Mary Gray,
That arch coquette,
Who stole last spring my heart away
And has it yet.
That smile with which my bow she greets,
Would it were fonder!
Or else less fond-since she its sweets
On all must squander.
Thus, when I meet her in the streets,
I sadly ponder,
And after her, as she retreats,
My thoughts will wander.
And so I listened with an air
While Bell described a folding-chair
Of his invention.
And when we reached the Swilcan Burn,
'It looks like rain,'
Said I, 'and we had better turn.'
'Twas all in vain,
For Bell was weather-wise, and knew
The signs aerial;
He bade me note the strip of blue
Above the Imperial,
Also another patch of sky,
South-west by south,
Which meant that we might journey dry
To Eden's mouth.
He was a man with information
On many topics:
He talked about the exploration
Of Poles and Tropics,
The scene in Parliament last night,
Sir William's letter;
'And do you like the electric light,
Or gas-lamps better?'
The strike among the dust-heap pickers
He said was over;
And had I read about the liquors
Just seized at Dover?
Or the unhappy printer lad
At Rothesay drowned?
Or the Italian ironclad
That ran aground ?
He told me stories (lately come)
Of town society,
Some slightly tinged with truth, and some
He spoke of duelling in France,
Then lightly glanced at
Mrs. Mackenzie's monster dance,
Which he had danced at.
So he ran on, till by-and-by
A silence came,
For which I greatly fear that I
Was most to blame.
Then neither of us spoke a word
For quite a minute
When presently a thought occurred
With promise in it.
'How did you like the Shakespeare play
The students read
By this, the Eden like a bay
Before us spread.
Near Eden many softer plots
Of sand there be;
Our feet, like Pharaoh's chariots,
And ere an answer I could frame,
He said that Irving
Of his extraordinary fame
And for his part he thought more highly
Of Ellen Terry;
Although he knew a girl named Riley
At Broughty Ferry,
Who might be, if she only chose,
As great a star,
She had a part in the tableaux
At the bazaar.
If I had said but little yet,
I now said less,
And smoked a home-made cigarette
In mute distress.
The smoke into his face was blown
By the wind's action,
And this afforded me, I own,
But still his tongue received no check
Till, coming home,
We stood beside the ancient wreck
And watched the foam
Wash in among the timbers, now
Sunk deep in sand,
Though I can well remember how
I used to stand
On windy days and hold my hat,
And idly turn
To read 'Lovise, Frederikstad'
Upon her stern.
Her stern long since was buried quite,
And soon no trace
The absorbing sand will leave in sight
To mark her place.
This reverie was not permitted
To last too long.
Bell's mind had left the stage, and flitted
To fields of song.
And now he spoke of Marmion
And Lewis Morris;
The former he at school had done,
Along with Horace.
His maiden aunts, no longer young,
But learned ladies,
Had lately sent him Songs Unsung,
Epic of Hades,
Gycia, and Gwen. He thought them fine;
Not like that Browning,
Of whom he would not read a line,
He told me, frowning.
Talking of Horace -- very clever
Beyond a doubt,
But what the Satires meant, he never
Yet could make out.
I said I relished Satire Nine
Of the First Book;
But he had skipped to the divine
He took occasion to declare,
In tones devoted,
How much he loved her old Arm-chair,
Which now he quoted.
And other poets he reviewed,
Some two or three,
Till, having touched on Thomas Hood,
He turned to me.
'Have you been stringing any rhymes
Of late?' he said.
I could not lie, but several times
I shook my head.
The last straw to the earth will bow
The overloaded camel,
And surely I resembled now
That ill-used mammal.
See how a thankless world regards
The gifted choir
Of minstrels, singers, poets, bards,
Who sweep the lyre.
This is the recompense we meet
In our vocation.
We bear the burden and the heat
The beauties of the earth we sing
In glowing numbers,
And to the 'reading public' bring
Post-prandial slumbers ;
We save from Mammon's gross dominion
These sordid times ....
And all this, in the world's opinion,
Is 'stringing rhymes.'
It is as if a man should say,
In accents mild,
'Have you been stringing beads to-day,
My gentle child?'
(Yet even children fond of singing
Will pay off scores,
And I to-day at least am stringing
Not beads but bores.)
And now the sands were left behind,
The Club-house past.
I wondered, Can I hope to find
Escape at last,
Or must I take him home to tea,
And bear his chatter
Until the last train to Dundee
Shall solve the matter?
But while I shuddered at the thought
And planned resistance,
My conquering Alexander caught
Sight in the distance
Of two young ladies, one of whom
Is his ambition;
And so, with somewhat heightened bloom,
He asked permission
To say good-bye to me and follow.
I freely gave it,
And wished him all success.
Apollo Sic me servavit.