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Title: Rhymes a la Mode
Author: Lang, Andrew
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Rhymes a la Mode" ***

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Transcribed from the 1885 Kegan Paul, Trench & Co. edition by David
Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org

                          [Picture: Book cover]

                      [Picture: Man at harpsichord]

                             RHYMES A LA MODE

                                BY A. LANG

                                               _Hom_, _c’est une ballade_!

        [Picture: Decorative graphic: Arbor Scientiæ, Arbor Vitæ]

                       _KEGAN PAUL_, _TRENCH & CO_

                                * * * * *

Many of these verses have appeared in periodicals, English or American,
and some were published in an American collection called _Ballades and
Verses Vain_.  None of them have previously been put forth in book form
in England.  The _Rondeaux of the Galleries_ were published in the
_Magazine of Art_, and are reprinted by permission of Messrs. Cassell and
Co. (Limited).


BALLADE DEDICATORY                                            vii
THE FORTUNATE ISLANDS                                           3
THE NEW MILLENIUM                                              13
ALMAE MATRES                                                   23
DESIDERIUM                                                     27
RHYMES A LA MODE                                               29
                Ballade of Middle Age                          31
                The Last Cast                                  33
                Twilight                                       37
                Ballade of Summer                              39
                Ballade of Christmas Ghosts                    41
                Love’s Easter                                  42
                Ballade of the Girton Girl                     43
                Ronsard’s Grave                                45
                San Terenzo                                    48
                Romance                                        50
                Ballade of his own Country                     52
                Villanelle                                     55
                Triolets after Moschus                         57
                Ballade of Cricket                             59
                The Last Maying                                61
                Homeric Unity                                  65
                In Tintagel                                    66
                Pisidicê                                       68
                From the East to the West                      71
                Love the Vampire                               72
                Ballade of the Book-man’s Paradise             74
                Ballade of a Friar                             76
                Ballade of Neglected Merit                     78
                Ballade of Railway Novels                      80
                The Cloud Chorus                               82
                Ballade of Literary Fame                       85
                Νήνεμος Αἰών                                   87
ART                                                            89
                A very woful Ballade of the Art Critic         91
                Art’s Martyr                                   94
                The Palace of Bric-à-brac                      97
                Rondeaux of the Galleries                     100
SCIENCE                                                       103
                The Barbarous Bird-Gods                       105
                Man and the Ascidian                          110
                Ballade of the Primitive Jest                 113
CAMEOS                                                        115
                Cameos                                        117
                Helen on the walls                            118
                The Isles of the Blessed                      119
                Death                                         121
                Nysa                                          122
                Colonus (I.)                                  123
                ,, (II.)                                      124
                The Passing of Œdipous                        125
                The Taming of Tyro                            126
                To Artemis                                    127
                Criticism of Life                             128
                Amaryllis                                     129
                The Cannibal Zeus                             130
                Invocation of Isis                            132
                The Coming of Isis                            133
THE SPINET                                                    134
NOTES                                                         135


                               _MRS. ELTON_
                           _OF WHITE STAUNTON_.

   _THE painted Briton built his mound_,
   _And left his celts and clay_,
   _On yon fair slope of sunlit ground_
   _That fronts your garden gay_;
   _The Roman came_, _he bore the sway_,
   _He bullied_, _bought_, _and sold_,
   _Your fountain sweeps his works away_
   _Beside your manor old_!

   _But still his crumbling urns are found_
   _Within the window-bay_,
   _Where once he listened to the sound_
   _That lulls you day by day_;—
   _The sound of summer winds at play_,
   _The noise of waters cold_
   _To Yarty wandering on their way_,
   _Beside your manor old_!

   _The Roman fell_: _his firm-set bound_
   _Became the Saxon’s stay_;
   _The bells made music all around_
   _For monks in cloisters grey_,
   _Till fled the monks in disarray_
   _From their warm chantry’s fold_,
   _Old Abbots slumber as they may_,
   _Beside your manor old_!


   _Creeds_, _empires_, _peoples_, _all decay_,
   _Down into darkness_, _rolled_;
   _May life that’s fleet be sweet_, _I pray_,
   _Beside your manor old_.



   IN twilight of the longest day
      I lingered over Lucian,
   Till ere the dawn a dreamy way
      My spirit found, untrod of man,
   Between the green sky and the grey.

   Amid the soft dusk suddenly
      More light than air I seemed to sail,
   Afloat upon the ocean sky,
      While through the faint blue, clear and pale,
   I saw the mountain clouds go by:
      My barque had thought for helm and sail,
   And one mist wreath for canopy.

   Like torches on a marble floor
      Reflected, so the wild stars shone,
   Within the abysmal hyaline,
      Till the day widened more and more,
   And sank to sunset, and was gone,
   And then, as burning beacons shine
      On summits of a mountain isle,
         A light to folk on sea that fare,
      So the sky’s beacons for a while
         Burned in these islands of the air.

   Then from a starry island set
      Where one swift tide of wind there flows,
   Came scent of lily and violet,
      Narcissus, hyacinth, and rose,
   Laurel, and myrtle buds, and vine,
   So delicate is the air and fine:
   And forests of all fragrant trees
      Sloped seaward from the central hill,
   And ever clamorous were these

   With singing of glad birds; and still
      Such music came as in the woods
   Most lonely, consecrate to Pan,
      The Wind makes, in his many moods,
   Upon the pipes some shepherd Man,
      Hangs up, in thanks for victory!
   On these shall mortals play no more,
      But the Wind doth touch them, over and o’er,
   And the Wind’s breath in the reeds will sigh.

   Between the daylight and the dark
      That island lies in silver air,
   And suddenly my magic barque
      Wheeled, and ran in, and grounded there;
   And by me stood the sentinel
      Of them who in the island dwell;
         All smiling did he bind my hands,
         With rushes green and rosy bands,
   They have no harsher bonds than these
      The people of the pleasant lands
   Within the wash of the airy seas!

   Then was I to their city led:
      Now all of ivory and gold
   The great walls were that garlanded
   The temples in their shining fold,
      (Each fane of beryl built, and each
      Girt with its grove of shadowy beech,)
   And all about the town, and through,
   There flowed a River fed with dew,
      As sweet as roses, and as clear
         As mountain crystals pure and cold,
   And with his waves that water kissed
   The gleaming altars of amethyst
      That smoke with victims all the year,
   And sacred are to the Gods of old.

   There sat three Judges by the Gate,
      And I was led before the Three,
   And they but looked on me, and straight
      The rosy bonds fell down from me
      Who, being innocent, was free;
   And I might wander at my will
   About that City on the hill,
      Among the happy people clad
         In purple weeds of woven air
   Hued like the webs that Twilight weaves
   At shut of languid summer eves
      So light their raiment seemed; and glad
   Was every face I looked on there!

   There was no heavy heat, no cold,
      The dwellers there wax never old,
         Nor wither with the waning time,
   But each man keeps that age he had
         When first he won the fairy clime.
   The Night falls never from on high,
      Nor ever burns the heat of noon.
   But such soft light eternally
      Shines, as in silver dawns of June
   Before the Sun hath climbed the sky!

   Within these pleasant streets and wide,
      The souls of Heroes go and come,
   Even they that fell on either side
      Beneath the walls of Ilium;
   And sunlike in that shadowy isle
   The face of Helen and her smile
      Makes glad the souls of them that knew
   Grief for her sake a little while!
   And all true Greeks and wise are there;
   And with his hand upon the hair
      Of Phaedo, saw I Socrates,
   About him many youths and fair,
      Hylas, Narcissus, and with these
   Him whom the quoit of Phoebus slew
      By fleet Eurotas, unaware!

   All these their mirth and pleasure made
      Within the plain Elysian,
         The fairest meadow that may be,
   With all green fragrant trees for shade
      And every scented wind to fan,
         And sweetest flowers to strew the lea;
   The soft Winds are their servants fleet
      To fetch them every fruit at will
      And water from the river chill;
   And every bird that singeth sweet
      Throstle, and merle, and nightingale
      Brings blossoms from the dewy vale,—
   Lily, and rose, and asphodel—
      With these doth each guest twine his crown
      And wreathe his cup, and lay him down
         Beside some friend he loveth well.

   There with the shining Souls I lay
   When, lo, a Voice that seemed to say,
      In far-off haunts of Memory,
   _Whoso death taste the Dead Men’s bread_,
   _Shall dwell for ever with these Dead_,
      _Nor ever shall his body lie_
   _Beside his friends_, _on the grey hill_
   _Where rains weep_, _and the curlews shrill_
      _And the brown water wanders by_!

   Then did a new soul in me wake,
   The dead men’s bread I feared to break,
   Their fruit I would not taste indeed
   Were it but a pomegranate seed.
   Nay, not with these I made my choice
   To dwell for ever and rejoice,
   For otherwhere the River rolls
   That girds the home of Christian souls,
   And these my whole heart seeks are found
   On otherwise enchanted ground.

   Even so I put the cup away,
      The vision wavered, dimmed, and broke,
      And, nowise sorrowing, I woke
   While, grey among the ruins grey
   Chill through the dwellings of the dead,
      The Dawn crept o’er the Northern sea,
   Then, in a moment, flushed to red,
      Flushed all the broken minster old,
      And turned the shattered stones to gold,
   And wakened half the world with me!


                               To E. W. G.

         (Who also had rhymed on the Fortune Islands of Lucian).

   _Each in the self-same field we glean_
   _The field of the Samosatene_,
   _Each something takes and something leaves_
      _And this must choose_, _and that forego_
   _In Lucian’s visionary sheaves_,
      _To twine a modern posy so_;
   _But all any gleanings_, _truth to tell_,
   _Are mixed with mournful asphodel_,
   _While yours are wreathed with poppies red_,
      _With flowers that Helen’s feet have kissed_,
   _With leaves of vine that garlanded_
      _The Syrian Pantagruelist_,
   _The sage who laughed the world away_,
      _Who mocked at Gods_, _and men_, _and care_,
   _More sweet of voice than Rabelais_,
      _And lighter-hearted than Voltaire_.


                       (_THE UNFORTUNATE ISLANDS_.)


   THE jaded light of late July
      Shone yellow down the dusty Strand,
   The anxious people bustled by,
   Policeman, Pressman, you and I,
      And thieves, and judges of the land.

   So swift they strode they had not time
      To mark the humours of the Town,
   But I, that mused an idle rhyme,
      Looked here and there, and up and down,
   And many a rapid cart I spied
      That drew, as fast as ponies can,
   The Newspapers of either side,
      These joys of every Englishman!

   The _Standard_ here, the _Echo_ there,
   And cultured ev’ning papers fair,
   With din and fuss and shout and blare
   Through all the eager land they bare,
      The rumours of our little span.

   ’Midst these, but ah, more slow of speed,
      A biggish box of sanguine hue
   Was tugged on a velocipede,
      And in and out the crowd, and through,
   An earnest stripling urged it well
   Perched on a cranky tricycle!

   A seedy tricycle he rode,
      Perchance some three miles in the hour,
   But, on the big red box that glowed
      Behind him, was a name of Power,
   _JUSTICE_, (I read it e’er I wist,)
   _The Organ of the Socialist_!

   The paper carts fled fleetly by
      And vanished up the roaring Strand,
   And eager purchasers drew nigh
      Each with his penny in his hand,
   But _Justice_, scarce more fleet than I,
      Began to permeate the land,
   And dark, methinks, the twilight fell,
      Or ever _Justice_ reached Pall Mall.

   Oh Man, (I stopped to moralize,)
      How eager thou to fight with Fate,
   To bring Astraea from the skies;
      Yet ah, how too inadequate
   The means by which thou fain wouldst cope
   With Laws and Morals, King and Pope!
   “_Justice_!”—how prompt the witling’s sneer,—
   “Justice!  Thou wouldst have Justice here!
   And each poor man should be a squire,
   Each with his competence a year,
   Each with sufficient beef and beer,
      And all things matched to his desire,
   While all the Middle Classes should
      With every vile Capitalist
   Be clean reformed away for good,
      And vanish like a morning mist!

   “Ah splendid Vision, golden time,
   An end of hunger, cold, and crime.
   An end of Rent, an end of Rank,
   An end of balance at the Bank,
   An end of everything that’s meant
   To bring Investors five per cent!”

   How fair doth Justice seem, I cried,
      Yet oh, how strong the embattled powers
   That war against on every side
      Justice, and this great dream of ours,
   And what have we to plead our cause
   ’Gainst Masters, Capital, and laws,
   What but a big red box indeed,
   With copies of a weekly screed,
      That’s slowly jolted, up and down,
   Behind an old velocipede
      To clamour _Justice_ through the town:
   How touchingly inadequate
   These arms wherewith we’d vanquish Fate!

   Nay, the old Order shall endure
      And little change the years shall know,
   And still the Many shall be poor,
      And still the Poor shall dwell in woe;
   Firm in the iron Law of things
      The strong shall be the wealthy still,
   And (called Capitalists or Kings)
      Shall seize and hoard the fruits of skill.
   Leaving the weaker for their gain,
      Leaving the gentler for their prize
   Such dens and husks as beasts disdain,—
      Till slowly from the wrinkled skies
   The fireless frozen Sun shall wane,
   Nor Summer come with golden grain;
      Till men be glad, mid frost and snow
   To live such equal lives of pain
      As now the hutted Eskimo!
   Then none shall plough nor garner seed,
      Then, on some last sad human shore,
   Equality shall reign indeed,
      The Rich shall be with us no more,
   Thus, and not otherwise, shall come
   The new, the true Millennium!


                    (ST. ANDREWS, 1862.  OXFORD, 1865)

   _St. Andrews by the Northern sea_,
      _A haunted town it is to me_!
   A little city, worn and grey,
      The grey North Ocean girds it round.
   And o’er the rocks, and up the bay,
      The long sea-rollers surge and sound.
   And still the thin and biting spray
      Drives down the melancholy street,
   And still endure, and still decay,
      Towers that the salt winds vainly beat.
   Ghost-like and shadowy they stand
   Dim mirrored in the wet sea-sand.

   St. Leonard’s chapel, long ago
      We loitered idly where the tall
   Fresh budded mountain ashes blow
      Within thy desecrated wall:
   The tough roots rent the tomb below,
      The April birds sang clamorous,
   We did not dream, we could not know
      How hardly Fate would deal with us!

   O, broken minster, looking forth
      Beyond the bay, above the town,
   O, winter of the kindly North,
      O, college of the scarlet gown,
   And shining sands beside the sea,
      And stretch of links beyond the sand,
   Once more I watch you, and to me
      It is as if I touched his hand!

   And therefore art thou yet more dear,
      O, little city, grey and sere,
   Though shrunken from thine ancient pride
      And lonely by thy lonely sea,
   Than these fair halls on Isis’ side,
      Where Youth an hour came back to me!

   A land of waters green and clear,
      Of willows and of poplars tall,
   And, in the spring time of the year,
      The white may breaking over all,
   And Pleasure quick to come at call.
      And summer rides by marsh and wold,
   And Autumn with her crimson pall
      About the towers of Magdalen rolled;
   And strange enchantments from the past,
      And memories of the friends of old,
   And strong Tradition, binding fast
      The “flying terms” with bands of gold,—

   All these hath Oxford: all are dear,
      But dearer far the little town,
   The drifting surf, the wintry year,
      The college of the scarlet gown,
         _St. Andrews by the Northern sea_,
         _That is a haunted town to me_!


                           IN MEMORIAM S. F. A.

   THE call of homing rooks, the shrill
      Song of some bird that watches late,
   The cries of children break the still
      Sad twilight by the churchyard gate.

   And o’er your far-off tomb the grey
      Sad twilight broods, and from the trees
   The rooks call on their homeward way,
      And are you heedless quite of these?

   The clustered rowan berries red
      And Autumn’s may, the clematis,
   They droop above your dreaming head,
      And these, and all things must you miss?

   Ah, you that loved the twilight air,
      The dim lit hour of quiet best,
   At last, at last you have your share
      Of what life gave so seldom, rest!

   Yes, rest beyond all dreaming deep,
      Or labour, nearer the Divine,
   And pure from fret, and smooth as sleep,
      And gentle as thy soul, is thine!

   So let it be!  But could I know
      That thou in this soft autumn eve,
   This hush of earth that pleased thee so,
      Hadst pleasure still, I might not grieve.



   OUR youth began with tears and sighs,
   With seeking what we could not find;
   Our verses all were threnodies,
   In elegiacs still we whined;
   Our ears were deaf, our eyes were blind,
   We sought and knew not what we sought.
   We marvel, now we look behind:
   Life’s more amusing than we thought!

   Oh, foolish youth, untimely wise!
   Oh, phantoms of the sickly mind!
   What? not content with seas and skies,
   With rainy clouds and southern wind,
   With common cares and faces kind,
   With pains and joys each morning brought?
   Ah, old, and worn, and tired we find
   Life’s more amusing than we thought!

   Though youth “turns spectre-thin and dies,”
   To mourn for youth we’re not inclined;
   We set our souls on salmon flies,
   We whistle where we once repined.
   Confound the woes of human-kind!
   By Heaven we’re “well deceived,” I wot;
   Who hum, contented or resigned,
   “Life’s more amusing than we thought!”


   _O nate mecum_, worn and lined
   Our faces show, but _that_ is naught;
   Our hearts are young ’neath wrinkled rind:
   Life’s more amusing than we thought!


                          THE ANGLER’S APOLOGY.

   JUST one cast more! how many a year
      Beside how many a pool and stream,
   Beneath the falling leaves and sere,
      I’ve sighed, reeled up, and dreamed my dream!

   Dreamed of the sport since April first
      Her hands fulfilled of flowers and snow,
   Adown the pastoral valleys burst
      Where Ettrick and where Teviot flow.

   Dreamed of the singing showers that break,
      And sting the lochs, or near or far,
   And rouse the trout, and stir “the take”
      From Urigil to Lochinvar.

   Dreamed of the kind propitious sky
      O’er Ari Innes brooding grey;
   The sea trout, rushing at the fly,
      Breaks the black wave with sudden spray!

                                  * * * * *

   Brief are man’s days at best; perchance
      I waste my own, who have not seen
   The castled palaces of France
      Shine on the Loire in summer green.

   And clear and fleet Eurotas still,
      You tell me, laves his reedy shore,
   And flows beneath his fabled hill
      Where Dian drave the chase of yore.

   And “like a horse unbroken” yet
      The yellow stream with rush and foam,
   ’Neath tower, and bridge, and parapet,
      Girdles his ancient mistress, Rome!

   I may not see them, but I doubt
      If seen I’d find them half so fair
   As ripples of the rising trout
      That feed beneath the elms of Yair.

   Nay, Spring I’d meet by Tweed or Ail,
      And Summer by Loch Assynt’s deep,
   And Autumn in that lonely vale
      Where wedded Avons westward sweep,

   Or where, amid the empty fields,
      Among the bracken of the glen,
   Her yellow wreath October yields,
      To crown the crystal brows of Ken.

   Unseen, Eurotas, southward steal,
      Unknown, Alpheus, westward glide,
   You never heard the ringing reel,
      The music of the water side!

   Though Gods have walked your woods among,
      Though nymphs have fled your banks along;
   You speak not that familiar tongue
      Tweed murmurs like my cradle song.

   My cradle song,—nor other hymn
      I’d choose, nor gentler requiem dear
   Than Tweed’s, that through death’s twilight dim,
      Mourned in the latest Minstrel’s ear!



                            (AFTER RICHEPIN.)

   LIGHT has flown!
   Through the grey
   The wind’s way
   The sea’s moan
   Sound alone!
      For the day
      These repay
   And atone!

   Scarce I know,
   Listening so
      To the streams
         Of the sea,
      If old dreams
         Sing to me!


                             TO C. H. ARKCOLL

   WHEN strawberry pottles are common and cheap,
   Ere elms be black, or limes be sere,
   When midnight dances are murdering sleep,
   Then comes in the sweet o’ the year!
   And far from Fleet Street, far from here,
   The Summer is Queen in the length of the land,
   And moonlit nights they are soft and clear,
   When fans for a penny are sold in the Strand!

   When clamour that doves in the lindens keep
   Mingles with musical plash of the weir,
   Where drowned green tresses of crowsfoot creep,
   Then comes in the sweet o’ the year!
   And better a crust and a beaker of beer,
   With rose-hung hedges on either hand,
   Than a palace in town and a prince’s cheer,
   When fans for a penny are sold in the Strand!

   When big trout late in the twilight leap,
   When cuckoo clamoureth far and near,
   When glittering scythes in the hayfield reap,
   Then comes in the sweet o’ the year!
   And it’s oh to sail, with the wind to steer,
   Where kine knee deep in the water stand,
   On a Highland loch, on a Lowland mere,
   When fans for a penny are sold in the Strand!


   Friend, with the fops while we dawdle here,
   Then comes in the sweet o’ the year!
   And the Summer runs out, like grains of sand,
   When fans for a penny are sold in the Strand!


   BETWEEN the moonlight and the fire
   In winter twilights long ago,
   What ghosts we raised for your desire
   To make your merry blood run slow!
   How old, how grave, how wise we grow!
   No Christmas ghost can make us chill,
   Save _those_ that troop in mournful row,
   The ghosts we all can raise at will!

   The beasts can talk in barn and byre
   On Christmas Eve, old legends know,
   As year by year the years retire,
   We men fall silent then I trow,
   Such sights hath Memory to show,
   Such voices from the silence thrill,
   Such shapes return with Christmas snow,—
   The ghosts we all can raise at will.

   Oh, children of the village choir,
   Your carols on the midnight throw,
   Oh bright across the mist and mire
   Ye ruddy hearths of Christmas glow!
   Beat back the dread, beat down the woe,
   Let’s cheerily descend the hill;
   Be welcome all, to come or go,
   The ghosts we all can raise at will!


   Friend, _sursum corda_, soon or slow
   We part, like guests who’ve joyed their fill;
   Forget them not, nor mourn them so,
   The ghosts we all can raise at will!



   LOVE died here
   Long ago;—
   O’er his bier,
      Lying low,
      Poppies throw;
         Shed no tear;
         Year by year,
      Roses blow!

   Year by year,
      To Love’s Queen—
         Does not die!
      Wakes when green
         May is nigh!


   SHE has just “put her gown on” at Girton,
      She is learned in Latin and Greek,
   But lawn tennis she plays with a skirt on
      That the prudish remark with a shriek.
   In her accents, perhaps, she is weak
      (Ladies _are_, one observes with a sigh),
   But in Algebra—_there_ she’s unique,
      But her forte’s to evaluate π.

   She can talk about putting a “spirt on”
      (I admit, an unmaidenly freak),
   And she dearly delighteth to flirt on
      A punt in some shadowy creek;
   Should her bark, by mischance, spring a leak,
      She can swim as a swallow can fly;
   She can fence, she can put with a cleek,
      But her forte’s to evaluate π.

   She has lectured on Scopas and Myrton,
      Coins, vases, mosaics, the antique,
   Old tiles with the secular dirt on,
      Old marbles with noses to seek.
   And her Cobet she quotes by the week,
      And she’s written on κεν and on καὶ,
   And her service is swift and oblique,
      But her forte’s to evaluate π.


   Princess, like a rose is her cheek,
      And her eyes are as blue as the sky,
   And I’d speak, had I courage to speak,
      But—her forte’s to evaluate pi.


   YE wells, ye founts that fall
   From the steep mountain wall,
      That fall, and flash, and fleet
         With silver feet,

   Ye woods, ye streams that lave
   The meadows with your wave,
      Ye hills, and valley fair,
         Attend my prayer!

   When Heaven and Fate decree
   My latest hour for me,
      When I must pass away
         From pleasant day,

   I ask that none my break
   The marble for my sake,
      Wishful to make more fair
         My sepulchre.

   Only a laurel tree
   Shall shade the grave of me,
      Only Apollo’s bough
         Shall guard me now!

   Now shall I be at rest
   Among the spirits blest,
      The happy dead that dwell—
         Where,—who may tell?

   The snow and wind and hail
   May never there prevail,
      Nor ever thunder fall
         Nor storm at all.

   But always fadeless there
   The woods are green and fair,
      And faithful ever more
         Spring to that shore!

   There shall I ever hear
   Alcaeus’ music clear,
      And sweetest of all things
         There SAPPHO sings.


 (The village in the bay of Spezia, near which Shelley was living before
                       the wreck of the Don Juan.)

   MID April seemed like some November day,
      When through the glassy waters, dull as lead,
   Our boat, like shadowy barques that bear the dead,
      Slipped down the long shores of the Spezian bay,
      Rounded a point,—and San Terenzo lay
   Before us, that gay village, yellow and red,
   The roof that covered Shelley’s homeless head,—
      His house, a place deserted, bleak and grey.

   The waves broke on the door-step; fishermen
      Cast their long nets, and drew, and cast again.
      Deep in the ilex woods we wandered free,
   When suddenly the forest glades were stirred
      With waving pinions, and a great sea bird
   Flew forth, like Shelley’s spirit, to the sea!



   MY Love dwelt in a Northern land.
      A grey tower in a forest green
   Was hers, and far on either hand
      The long wash of the waves was seen,
   And leagues on leagues of yellow sand,
      The woven forest boughs between!

   And through the silver Northern night
      The sunset slowly died away,
   And herds of strange deer, lily-white,
      Stole forth among the branches grey;
   About the coming of the light,
      They fled like ghosts before the day!

   I know not if the forest green
      Still girdles round that castle grey;
   I know not if the boughs between
      The white deer vanish ere the day;
   Above my Love the grass is green,
      My heart is colder than the clay!


   I SCRIBBLED on a fly-book’s leaves
      Among the shining salmon-flies;
   A song for summer-time that grieves
      I scribbled on a fly-book’s leaves.
      Between grey sea and golden sheaves,
   Beneath the soft wet Morvern skies,
   I scribbled on a fly-book’s leaves
      Among the shining salmon-flies.

                              TO C. H. ARKCOLL

   Let them boast of Arabia, oppressed
      By the odour of myrrh on the breeze;
   In the isles of the East and the West
      That are sweet with the cinnamon trees
   Let the sandal-wood perfume the seas;
      Give the roses to Rhodes and to Crete,
   We are more than content, if you please,
      With the smell of bog-myrtle and peat!

   Though Dan Virgil enjoyed himself best
      With the scent of the limes, when the bees
   Hummed low ’round the doves in their nest,
      While the vintagers lay at their ease,
   Had he sung in our northern degrees,
      He’d have sought a securer retreat,
   He’d have dwelt, where the heart of us flees,
      With the smell of bog-myrtle and peat!

   Oh, the broom has a chivalrous crest
      And the daffodil’s fair on the leas,
   And the soul of the Southron might rest,
      And be perfectly happy with these;
   But _we_, that were nursed on the knees
      Of the hills of the North, we would fleet
   Where our hearts might their longing appease
      With the smell of bog-myrtle and peat!


   Ah Constance, the land of our quest
      It is far from the sounds of the street,
   Where the Kingdom of Galloway’s blest
      With the smell of bog-myrtle and peat!



   VILLANELLE, why art thou mute?
         Hath the singer ceased to sing?
   Hath the Master lost his lute?

   Many a pipe and scrannel flute
         On the breeze their discords fling;
   Villanelle, why art _thou_ mute?

   Sound of tumult and dispute,
         Noise of war the echoes bring;
   Hath the Master lost his lute?

   Once he sang of bud and shoot
         In the season of the Spring;
   Villanelle, why art thou mute?

   Fading leaf and falling fruit
         Say, “The year is on the wing,
   Hath the Master lost his lute?”

   Ere the axe lie at the root,
         Ere the winter come as king,
   Villanelle, why art thou mute?
   Hath the Master lost his lute?


    Αίαῖ ταὶ μαλάχαι μέν ἐπὰν κατὰ κᾱπον ὄλωνται
    ὕστερον άυ ζώοντι καὶ εἰς ἔτος ἄλλο φύοντι
    άμμες δ’ οι μεγάλοι καὶ χαρτερί οι σοφοὶ ἄνδρες
    ὁππότε πρᾱτα θάνωμες άνάχοοι ἔν χθονὶ χοίλα
    ‘εύδομες ἔυ μάλα μαχρὸν ἀπέμονα νήγρετον ‘ύπνον.

   ALAS, for us no second spring,
      Like mallows in the garden-bed,
   For these the grave has lost his sting,
      Alas, for _us_ no second spring,
      Who sleep without awakening,
   And, dead, for ever more are dead,
      Alas, for us no second spring,
         Like mallows in the garden-bed!

   Alas, the strong, the wise, the brave
      That boast themselves the sons of men!
   Once they go down into the grave—
      Alas, the strong, the wise, the brave,—
      They perish and have none to save,
      They are sown, and are not raised again;
   Alas, the strong, the wise, the brave,
      That boast themselves the sons of men!


                              TO T. W. LANG.

   THE burden of hard hitting: slog away!
   Here shalt thou make a “five” and there a “four,”
   And then upon thy bat shalt lean, and say,
   That thou art in for an uncommon score.
   Yea, the loud ring applauding thee shall roar,
   And thou to rival THORNTON shalt aspire,
   When lo, the Umpire gives thee “leg before,”—
   “This is the end of every man’s desire!”

   The burden of much bowling, when the stay
   Of all thy team is “collared,” swift or slower,
   When “bailers” break not in their wonted way,
   And “yorkers” come not off as here-to-fore,
   When length balls shoot no more, ah never more,
   When all deliveries lose their former fire,
   When bats seem broader than the broad barn-door,—
   “This is the end of every man’s desire!”

   The burden of long fielding, when the clay
   Clings to thy shoon in sudden shower’s downpour,
   And running still thou stumblest, or the ray
   Of blazing suns doth bite and burn thee sore,
   And blind thee till, forgetful of thy lore,
   Thou dost most mournfully misjudge a “skyer,”
   And lose a match the Fates cannot restore,—
   “This is the end of every man’s desire!”


   Alas, yet liefer on Youth’s hither shore
   Would I be some poor Player on scant hire,
   Than King among the old, who play no more,—
   “_This_ is the end of every man’s desire!”


    “It is told of the last Lovers which watched May-night in the forest,
    before men brought the tidings of the Gospel to this land, that they
    beheld no Fairies, nor Dwarfs, nor no such Thing, but the very Venus
    herself, who bade them ‘make such cheer as they might, for’ said she,
    ‘I shall live no more in these Woods, nor shall ye endure to see
    another May time.’”—EDMUND GORLIOT, “Of Phantasies and Omens,” p.
    149.  (1573.)

   “WHENCE do ye come, with the dew on your hair?
   From what far land are the boughs ye bear,
      The blossoms and buds upon breasts and tresses,
   The light burned white in your faces fair?”

   “In a falling fane have we built our house,
   With the dying Gods we have held carouse,
      And our lips are wan from their wild caresses,
   Our hands are filled with their holy boughs.

   As we crossed the lawn in the dying day
   No fairy led us to meet the May,
      But the very Goddess loved by lovers,
   In mourning raiment of green and grey.

   She was not decked as for glee and game,
   She was not veiled with the veil of flame,
      The saffron veil of the Bride that covers
   The face that is flushed with her joy and shame.

   On the laden branches the scent and dew
   Mingled and met, and as snow to strew
      The woodland rides and the fragrant grasses,
   White flowers fell as the night wind blew.

   Tears and kisses on lips and eyes
   Mingled and met amid laughter and sighs
      For grief that abides, and joy that passes,
   For pain that tarries and mirth that flies.

   It chanced as the dawning grew to grey
   Pale and sad on our homeward way,
      With weary lips, and palled with pleasure
   The Goddess met us, farewell to say.

   “Ye have made your choice, and the better part,
   Ye chose” she said, “and the wiser art;
      In the wild May night drank all the measure,
   The perfect pleasure of heart and heart.

   “Ye shall walk no more with the May,” she said,
   “Shall your love endure though the Gods be dead?
      Shall the flitting flocks, mine own, my chosen,
   Sing as of old, and be happy and wed?

   “Yea, they are glad as of old; but you,
   Fair and fleet as the dawn or the dew,
      Abide no more, for the springs are frozen,
   And fled the Gods that ye loved and knew.

   Ye shall never know Summer again like this;
   Ye shall play no more with the Fauns, I wis,
      No more in the nymphs’ and dryads’ playtime
   Shall echo and answer kiss and kiss.

   “Though the flowers in your golden hair be bright,
   Your golden hair shall be waste and white
   On faded brows ere another May time
      Bring the spring, but no more delight.”


   THE sacred keep of Ilion is rent
   By shaft and pit; foiled waters wander slow
   Through plains where Simois and Scamander went
      To war with Gods and heroes long ago.
      Not yet to tired Cassandra, lying low
   In rich Mycenæ, do the Fates relent:
      The bones of Agamemnon are a show,
   And ruined is his royal monument.

   The dust and awful treasures of the Dead,
      Hath Learning scattered wide, but vainly thee,
   Homer, she meteth with her tool of lead,
      And strives to rend thy songs; too blind to see
   The crown that burns on thine immortal head
      Of indivisible supremacy!



   AH lady, lady, leave the creeping mist,
      And leave the iron castle by the sea!


   Nay, from the sea there came a ghost that kissed
      My lips, and so I cannot come to thee!


   Ah lady, leave the cruel landward wind
      That crusts the blighted flowers with bitter foam!


   Nay, for his arms are cold and strong to bind,
      And I must dwell with him and make my home!


   Come, for the Spring is fair in Joyous Guard
      And down deep alleys sweet birds sing again.


   But I must tarry with the winter hard,
      And with the bitter memory of pain,
   Although the Spring be fair in Joyous Guard,
      And in the gardens glad birds sing again!


The incident is from the Love Stories of Parthenius, who preserved
fragments of a lost epic on the expedition of Achilles against Lesbos, an
island allied with Troy.

   THE daughter of the Lesbian king
      Within her bower she watched the war,
   Far off she heard the arrows ring,
      The smitten harness ring afar;
   And, fighting from the foremost car,
      Saw one that smote where all must flee;
   More fair than the Immortals are
      He seemed to fair Pisidicê!

   She saw, she loved him, and her heart
      Before Achilles, Peleus’ son,
   Threw all its guarded gates apart,
      A maiden fortress lightly won!
   And, ere that day of fight was done,
      No more of land or faith recked she,
   But joyed in her new life begun,—
      Her life of love, Pisidicê!

   She took a gift into her hand,
      As one that had a boon to crave;
   She stole across the ruined land
      Where lay the dead without a grave,
   And to Achilles’ hand she gave
      Her gift, the secret postern’s key.
   “To-morrow let me be thy slave!”
      Moaned to her love Pisidicê.

   Ere dawn the Argives’ clarion call
      Rang down Methymna’s burning street;
   They slew the sleeping warriors all,
      They drove the women to the fleet,
   Save one, that to Achilles’ feet
      Clung, but, in sudden wrath, cried he:
   “For her no doom but death is meet,”
      And there men stoned Pisidicê.

   In havens of that haunted coast,
      Amid the myrtles of the shore,
   The moon sees many a maiden ghost
      Love’s outcast now and evermore.
   The silence hears the shades deplore
      Their hour of dear-bought love; but _thee_
   The waves lull, ’neath thine olives hoar,
      To dreamless rest, Pisidicê!


   RETURNING from what other seas
      Dost thou renew thy murmuring,
   Weak Tide, and hast thou aught of these
      To tell, the shores where float and cling
   My love, my hope, my memories?

   Say does my lady wake to note
      The gold light into silver die?
   Or do thy waves make lullaby,
      While dreams of hers, like angels, float
   Through star-sown spaces of the sky?

   Ah, would such angels came to me
      That dreams of mine might speak with hers,
   Nor wake the slumber of the sea
   With words as low as winds that be
      Awake among the gossamers!


                          Ο ΕΡΩΤΑΣ ’Σ ΤΟΝ ΤΑΦΟ.

      THE level sands and grey,
      Stretch leagues and leagues away,
   Down to the border line of sky and foam,
      A spark of sunset burns,
      The grey tide-water turns,
   Back, like a ghost from her forbidden home!

      Here, without pyre or bier,
      Light Love was buried here,
   Alas, his grave was wide and deep enough,
      Thrice, with averted head,
      We cast dust on the dead,
   And left him to his rest.  An end of Love.

      “No stone to roll away,
      No seal of snow or clay,
   Only soft dust above his wearied eyes,
      But though the sudden sound
      Of Doom should shake the ground,
   And graves give up their ghosts, he will not rise!”

      So each to each we said!
      Ah, but to either bed
   Set far apart in lands of North and South,
      Love as a Vampire came
      With haggard eyes aflame,
   And kissed us with the kisses of his mouth!

      Thenceforth in dreams must we
      Each other’s shadow see
   Wand’ring unsatisfied in empty lands,
      Still the desirèd face
      Fleets from the vain embrace,
   And still the shape evades the longing hands.


   THERE _is_ a Heaven, or here, or there,—
   A Heaven there is, for me and you,
   Where bargains meet for purses spare,
   Like ours, are not so far and few.
   Thuanus’ bees go humming through
   The learned groves, ’neath rainless skies,
   O’er volumes old and volumes new,
   Within that Book-man’s Paradise!

   There treasures bound for Longepierre
   Keep brilliant their morocco blue,
   There Hookes’ _Amanda_ is not rare,
   Nor early tracts upon Peru!
   Racine is common as Rotrou,
   No Shakespeare Quarto search defies,
   And Caxtons grow as blossoms grew,
   Within that Book-man’s Paradise!

   There’s Eve,—not our first mother fair,—
   But Clovis Eve, a binder true;
   Thither does Bauzonnet repair,
   Derome, Le Gascon, Padeloup!
   But never come the cropping crew
   That dock a volume’s honest size,
   Nor they that “letter” backs askew,
   Within that Book-man’s Paradise!


   Friend, do not Heber and De Thou,
   And Scott, and Southey, kind and wise,
   _La chasse au bouquin_ still pursue
   Within that Book-man’s Paradise?


(Clement Marot’s _Frère Lubin_, though translated by Longfellow and
others, has not hitherto been rendered into the original measure, of
_ballade à double refrain_.)

   SOME ten or twenty times a day,
   To bustle to the town with speed,
   To dabble in what dirt he may,—
   Le Frère Lubin’s the man you need!
   But any sober life to lead
   Upon an exemplary plan,
   Requires a Christian indeed,—
   Le Frère Lubin is _not_ the man!

   Another’s wealth on his to lay,
   With all the craft of guile and greed,
   To leave you bare of pence or pay,—
   Le Frère Lubin’s the man you need!
   But watch him with the closest heed,
   And dun him with what force you can,—
   He’ll not refund, howe’er you plead,—
   Le Frère Lubin is _not_ the man!

   An honest girl to lead astray,
   With subtle saw and promised meed,
   Requires no cunning crone and grey,—
   Le Frère Lubin’s the man you need!
   He preaches an ascetic creed,
   But,—try him with the water can—
   A dog will drink, whate’er his breed,—
   Le Frère Lubin is _not_ the man!


   In good to fail, in ill succeed,
   Le Frère Lubin’s the man you need!
   In honest works to lead the van,
   Le Frère Lubin is _not_ the man!


   I HAVE scribbled in verse and in prose,
   I have painted “arrangements in greens,”
   And my name is familiar to those
   Who take in the high class magazines;
   I compose; I’ve invented machines;
   I have written an “Essay on Rhyme”;
   For my county I played, in my teens,
   But—I am not in “Men of the Time!”

   I have lived, as a chief, with the Crows;
   I have “interviewed” Princes and Queens;
   I have climbed the Caucasian snows;
   I abstain, like the ancients, from beans,—
   I’ve a guess what Pythagoras means,
   When he says that to eat them’s a crime,—
   I have lectured upon the Essenes,
   But—I am not in “Men of the Time!”

   I’ve a fancy as morbid as Poe’s,
   I can tell what is meant by “Shebeens,”
   I have breasted the river that flows
   Through the land of the wild Gadarenes;
   I can gossip with Burton on _skenes_,
   I can imitate Irving (the Mime),
   And my sketches are quainter than Keene’s,
   But—I am not in “Men of the Time!”


   So the tower of mine eminence leans
   Like the Pisan, and mud is its lime;
   I’m acquainted with Dukes and with Deans,
   But—I am not in “Men of the Time!”


   LET others praise analysis
      And revel in a “cultured” style,
   And follow the subjective Miss {80}
      From Boston to the banks of Nile,
   Rejoice in anti-British bile,
      And weep for fickle hero’s woe,
   These twain have shortened many a mile,
      Miss Braddon and Gaboriau.

   These damsels of “Democracy’s,”
      How long they stop at every stile!
   They smile, and we are told, I wis,
      Ten subtle reasons _why_ they smile.
   Give _me_ your villains deeply vile,
      Give me Lecoq, Jottrat, and Co.,
   Great artists of the ruse and wile,
      Miss Braddon and Gaboriau!

   Oh, novel readers, tell me this,
      Can prose that’s polished by the file,
   Like great Boisgobey’s mysteries,
      Wet days and weary ways beguile,
   And man to living reconcile,
      Like these whose every trick we know?
   The agony how high they pile,
      Miss Braddon and Gaboriau!


   Ah, friend, how many and many a while
      They’ve made the slow time fleetly flow,
   And solaced pain and charmed exile,
      Miss Braddon and Gaboriau.


                           (FROM ARISTOPHANES.)

                             _Socrates speaks_.

   Hither, come hither, ye Clouds renowned, and unveil yourselves here;
   Come, though ye dwell on the sacred crests of Olympian snow,
   Or whether ye dance with the Nereid choir in the gardens clear,
   Or whether your golden urns are dipped in Nile’s overflow,
   Or whether you dwell by Mæotis mere
   Or the snows of Mimas, arise! appear!
   And hearken to us, and accept our gifts ere ye rise and go.

                             _The Clouds sing_.

   Immortal Clouds from the echoing shore
   Of the father of streams, from the sounding sea,
   Dewy and fleet, let us rise and soar.
   Dewy and gleaming, and fleet are we!
   Let us look on the tree-clad mountain crest,
      On the sacred earth where the fruits rejoice,
   On the waters that murmur east and west
      On the tumbling sea with his moaning voice,
   For unwearied glitters the Eye of the Air,
      And the bright rays gleam;
   Then cast we our shadows of mist, and fare
   In our deathless shapes to glance everywhere
      From the height of the heaven, on the land and air,
         And the Ocean stream.

   Let us on, ye Maidens that bring the Rain,
      Let us gaze on Pallas’ citadel,
         In the country of Cecrops, fair and dear
         The mystic land of the holy cell,
      Where the Rites unspoken securely dwell,
         And the gifts of the Gods that know not stain
   And a people of mortals that know not fear.
   For the temples tall, and the statues fair,
   And the feasts of the Gods are holiest there,
   The feasts of Immortals, the chaplets of flowers
      And the Bromian mirth at the coming of spring,
   And the musical voices that fill the hours,
      And the dancing feet of the Maids that sing!


                        “All these for Fourpence.”

   OH, where are the endless Romances
   Our grandmothers used to adore?
   The Knights with their helms and their lances,
   Their shields and the favours they wore?
   And the Monks with their magical lore?
   They have passed to Oblivion and _Nox_,
   They have fled to the shadowy shore,—
   They are all in the Fourpenny Box!

   And where the poetical fancies
   Our fathers rejoiced in, of yore?
   The lyric’s melodious expanses,
   The Epics in cantos a score?
   They have been and are not: no more
   Shall the shepherds drive silvery flocks,
   Nor the ladies their languors deplore,—
   They are all in the Fourpenny Box!

   And the Music!  The songs and the dances?
   The tunes that Time may not restore?
   And the tomes where Divinity prances?
   And the pamphlets where Heretics roar?
   They have ceased to be even a bore,—
   The Divine, and the Sceptic who mocks,—
   They are “cropped,” they are “foxed” to the core,—
   They are all in the Fourpenny Box!


   Suns beat on them; tempests downpour,
   On the chest without cover or locks,
   Where they lie by the Bookseller’s door,—
   They are _all_ in the Fourpenny Box!

Νήνεμος ’Αἰών

   I WOULD my days had been in other times,
   A moment in the long unnumbered years
   That knew the sway of Horus and of hawk,
   In peaceful lands that border on the Nile.

   I would my days had been in other times,
   Lulled by the sacrifice and mumbled hymn
   Between the Five great Rivers, or in shade
   And shelter of the cool Himâlayan hills.

   I would my days had been in other times,
   That I in some old abbey of Touraine
   Had watched the rounding grapes, and lived my life,
   Ere ever Luther came or Rabelais!

   I would my days had been in other times,
   When quiet life to death not terrible
   Drifted, as ashes of the Santhal dead
   Drift down the sacred Rivers to the Sea!



                            (TO E. A. ABBEY.)

   A SPIRIT came to my sad bed,
   And weary sad that night was I,
   Who’d tottered, since the dawn was red,
   Through miles of Grosvenor Gallery,
   Yea, leagues of long Academy
   Awaited me when morn grew white,
   ’Twas then the Spirit whispered nigh,
   “Take up the pen, my friend, and write!

   “Of many a portrait grey as lead,
   Of many a mustard-coloured sky,
   Say much, where little should be said,
   Lay on thy censure dexterously,
   With microscopic glances pry
   At textures, Tadema’s delight,
   Praise foreign swells they always sky,
   Take up the pen, my friend, and write!”

   I answered, “’Tis for daily bread,
   A sorry crust, I ween, and dry,
   That still, with aching feet and head,
   I push this lawful industry,
   ’Mid pictures hung or low, or high,
   But, touching that which I indite,
   Do artists hold me lovingly?
   Take up the pen, my friend, and write.”

                       _The Spirit writeth in form of_


   “They fain would black thy dexter eye,
   They hate thee with a bitter spite,
   But scribble since thou must, or die,
   Take tip the pen, my friend, and write!”


Telleth of a young man that fain would be fairly tattooed on his flesh,
after the heathen manner, in devices of blue, and that, falling among the
Dyacks, a folk of Borneo, was by them tattooed in modern fashion and
device, and of his misery that fell upon him, and his outlawry.

   _HE said_, The China on the shelf
      Is very fair to view,
   And wherefore should mine outer self,
      Not correspond thereto?
            In blue
      My frame I must tattoo.

   Where may tattooing men abound,
      And ah, where might they be?
   Nay, well I wot they are not found
      In lands of Christentie,
            (_Quoth he_)
      But I must cross the sea!

   So forth he sailed to Borneo,
      (A land that culture lacks,)
   And there his money did bestow
      To purchase pricks and hacks,
      Are famed tattooing blacks.)

   But European commerce had
      Debased the savage kind,
   And they this most unhappy lad
      Before (and eke behind)
      In colours to their mind!

   Such awful colours as are blent
      On terrible placards
   Where flames the fierce advertisement
      Yea, or on Christmas cards
            (Not Ward’s,
      But common Christmas cards!)

   Thus never more to Chelsea might
      The luckless boy return,
   He knew himself too dreadful, quite,
      A thing his friends would spurn,
            And turn
      To praise some Grecian urn!

   But still he dwells in Borneo,
      A land that culture lacks,
   And there they all admire him so,
      They bring him heads in sacks,
      Are _not_ æsthetic blacks!


   HERE, where old Nankin glitters,
      Here, where men’s tumult seems
   As faint as feeble twitters
      Of sparrows heard in dreams,
         We watch Limoges enamel,
         An old chased silver camel,
         A shawl, the gift of Schamyl,
      And manuscripts in reams.

   Here, where the hawthorn pattern
      On flawless cup and plate
   Need fear no housemaid slattern,
      Fell minister of fate,
         ’Mid webs divinely woven,
         And helms and hauberks cloven,
         On music of Beethoven
      We dream and meditate.

   We know not, and we need not
      To know how mortals fare,
   Of Bills that pass, or speed not,
      Time finds us unaware,
         Yea, creeds and codes may crumble,
         And Dilke and Gladstone stumble,
         And eat the pie that’s humble,
      We neither know nor care!

   Can kings or clergies alter
      The crackle on one plate?
   Can creeds or systems palter
      With what is truly great?
         With Corots and with Millets,
         With April daffodillies,
         Or make the maiden lilies
      Bloom early or bloom late?

   Nay, here ’midst Rhodian roses,
      ’Midst tissues of Cashmere,
   The Soul sublime reposes,
      And knows not hope nor fear;
         Here all she sees her own is,
         And musical her moan is,
         O’er Caxtons and Bodonis,
      Aldine and Elzevir!



   IN Camelot how grey and green
   The Damsels dwell, how sad their teen,
   In Camelot how green and grey
   The melancholy poplars sway.
   I wis I wot not what they mean
   Or wherefore, passionate and lean,
   The maidens mope their loves between,
   Not seeming to have much to say,
                              In Camelot.
   Yet there hath armour goodly sheen
   The blossoms in the apple treen,
   (To spell the Camelotian way)
   Show fragrant through the doubtful day,
   And Master’s work is often seen
                              In Camelot!


   Philistia!  Maids in muslin white
   With flannelled oarsmen oft delight
   To drift upon thy streams, and float
   In Salter’s most luxurious boat;
   In buff and boots the cheery knight
   Returns (quite safe) from Naseby fight;
   Thy humblest folk are clean and bright,
   Thou still must win the public vote,
   Observe the High Church curate’s coat,
   The realistic hansom note!
   Ah, happy land untouched of blight,
   Smirks, Bishops, Babies, left and right,
   We know thine every charm by rote,



In the _Aves_ of Aristophanes, the Bird Chorus declare that they are
older than the Gods, and greater benefactors of men.  This idea recurs in
almost all savage mythologies, and I have made the savage Bird-gods state
their own case.

                            _The Birds sing_:

   WE would have you to wit, that on eggs though we sit, and are spiked
   on the spit, and are baked in the pan,
   Birds are older by far than your ancestors are, and made love and made
   war ere the making of Man!
   For when all things were dark, not a glimmer nor spark, and the world
   like a barque without rudder or sail
   Floated on through the night, ’twas a Bird struck a light, ’twas a
   flash from the bright feather’d Tonatiu’s {105} tail!
   Then the Hawk {106a} with some dry wood flew up in the sky, and afar,
   safe and high, the Hawk lit Sun and Moon,
   And the Birds of the air they rejoiced everywhere, and they recked not
   of care that should come on them soon.
   For the Hawk, so they tell, was then known as Pundjel, {106b} and
   a-musing he fell at the close of the day;
   Then he went on the quest, as we thought, of a nest, with some bark of
   the best, and a clawful of clay. {106c}
   And with these did he frame two birds lacking a name, without feathers
   (his game was a puzzle to all);
   Next around them he fluttered a-dancing, and muttered; and, lastly, he
   uttered a magical call:
   Then the figures of clay, as they featherless lay, they leaped up, who
   but they, and embracing they fell,
   And _this_ was the baking of Man, and his making; but now he’s
   forsaking his Father, Pundjel!
   Now these creatures of mire, they kept whining for fire, and to crown
   their desire who was found but the Wren?
   To the high heaven he came, from the Sun stole he flame, and for this
   has a name in the memory of men! {107a}
   And in India who for the Soma juice flew, and to men brought it
   through without falter or fail?
   Why the Hawk ’twas again, and great Indra to men would appear, now and
   then, in the shape of a Quail,
   While the Thlinkeet’s delight is the Bird of the Night, the beak and
   the bright ebon plumage of Yehl.{107b}
   And who for man’s need brought the famed Suttung’s mead? why ’tis told
   in the creed of the Sagamen strong,
   ’Twas the Eagle god who brought the drink from the blue, and gave
   mortals the brew that’s the fountain of song. {108a}
   Next, who gave men their laws? and what reason or cause the young
   brave overawes when in need of a squaw,
   Till he thinks it a shame to wed one of his name, and his conduct you
   blame if he thus breaks the law?
   For you still hold it wrong if a _lubra_ {108b} belong to the
   self-same _kobong_ {108c} that is Father of you,
   To take _her_ as a bride to your ebony side; nay, you give her a wide
   berth; quite right of you, too.
   For her father, you know, is _your_ father, the Crow, and no blessing
   but woe from the wedding would spring.
   Well, these rules they were made in the wattle-gum shade, and were
   strictly obeyed, when the Crow was the King. {108d}
   Thus on Earth’s little ball to the Birds you owe all, yet your
   gratitude’s small for the favours they’ve done,
   And their feathers you pill, and you eat them at will, yes, you
   plunder and kill the bright birds one by one;
   There’s a price on their head, and the Dodo is dead, and the Moa has
   fled from the sight of the sun!


                               A MORALITY.

   “THE Ancestor remote of Man,”
   Says Darwin, “is th’ Ascidian,”
   A scanty sort of water-beast
   That, ninety million years at least
   Before Gorillas came to be,
   Went swimming up and down the sea.

   Their ancestors the pious praise,
   And like to imitate their ways;
   How, then, does our first parent live,
   What lesson has his life to give?

   Th’ Ascidian tadpole, young and gay,
   Doth Life with one bright eye survey,
   His consciousness has easy play.
   He’s sensitive to grief and pain,
   Has tail, and spine, and bears a brain,
   And everything that fits the state
   Of creatures we call vertebrate.
   But age comes on; with sudden shock
   He sticks his head against a rock!
   His tail drops off, his eye drops in,
   His brain’s absorbed into his skin;
   He does not move, nor feel, nor know
   The tidal water’s ebb and flow,
   But still abides, unstirred, alone,
   A sucker sticking to a stone.

   And we, his children, truly we
   In youth are, like the Tadpole, free.
   And where we would we blithely go,
   Have brains and hearts, and feel and know.
   Then Age comes on!  To Habit we
   Affix ourselves and are not free;
   Th’ Ascidian’s rooted to a rock,
   And we are bond-slaves of the clock;
   Our rocks are Medicine—Letters—Law,
   From these our heads we cannot draw:
   Our loves drop off, our hearts drop in,
   And daily thicker grows our skin.

   Ah, scarce we live, we scarcely know
   The wide world’s moving ebb and flow,
   The clanging currents ring and shock,
   But we are rooted to the rock.
   And thus at ending of his span,
   Blind, deaf, and indolent, does Man
   Revert to the Ascidian.


    “What did the dark-haired Iberian laugh at before the tall blonde
    Aryan drove him into the corners of Europe?”—_Brander Matthews_.

   I AM an ancient Jest!
   Palæolithic man
   In his arboreal nest
   The sparks of fun would fan;
   My outline did he plan,
   And laughed like one possessed,
   ’Twas thus my course began,
   I am a Merry Jest!

   I am an early Jest!
   Man delved, and built, and span;
   Then wandered South and West
   The peoples Aryan,
   _I_ journeyed in their van;
   The Semites, too, confessed,—
   From Beersheba to Dan,—
   I am a Merry Jest!

   I am an ancient Jest,
   Through all the human clan,
   Red, black, white, free, oppressed,
   Hilarious I ran!
   I’m found in Lucian,
   In Poggio, and the rest,
   I’m dear to Moll and Nan!
   I am a Merry Jest!


   Prince, you may storm and ban—
   Joe Millers _are_ a pest,
   Suppress me if you can!
   I am a Merry Jest!


                       _SONNETS FROM THE ANTIQUE_.

These versions from classical passages are pretty close to the original,
except where compression was needed, as in the sonnets from Pausanias and
Apuleius, or where, as in the case of fragments of Æschylus and
Sophocles, a little expansion was required.


   _THE graver by Apollo’s shrine_,
      _Before the Gods had fled_, _would stand_,
      _A shell or onyx in his hand_,
   _To copy there the face divine_,
   _Till earnest touches_, _line by line_,
      _Had wrought the wonder of the land_
      _Within a beryl’s golden band_,
   _Or on some fiery opal fine_.
   _Ah_! _would that as some ancient ring_
   _To us_, _on shell or stone_, _doth bring_,
      _Art’s marvels perished long ago_,
   _So I_, _within the sonnet’s space_,
   _The large Hellenic lines might trace_,
      _The statue in the cameo_!


                           (_Iliad_, iii. 146.)

   FAIR Helen to the Scæan portals came,
   Where sat the elders, peers of Priamus,
   Thymoetas, Hiketaon, Panthöus,
   And many another of a noble name,
   Famed warriors, now in council more of fame.
   Always above the gates, in converse thus
   They chattered like cicalas garrulous;
   Who marking Helen, swore “it is no shame
   That armed Achæan knights, and Ilian men
   For such a woman’s sake should suffer long.
   Fair as a deathless goddess seemeth she.
   Nay, but aboard the red-prowed ships again
   Home let her pass in peace, not working wrong
   To us, and children’s children yet to be.”


   _Pindar_, _Fr._, 106, 107 (95): B. 4, 129–130, 109 (97): B. 4, 132.

   NOW the light of the sun, in the night of the Earth, on the souls of
   the True
      Shines, and their city is girt with the meadow where reigneth the
   And deep is the shade of the woods, and the wind that flits o’er them
   and through
      Sings of the sea, and is sweet from the isles where the
   frankincense blows:
   Green is their garden and orchard, with rare fruits golden it glows,
      And the souls of the Blessed are glad in the pleasures on Earth
   that they knew,
   And in chariots these have delight, and in dice and in minstrelsy
      And the savour of sacrifice clings to the altars and rises anew.

   But the Souls that Persephone cleanses from ancient pollution and
      These at the end of the age be they prince, be they singer, or
   These to the world, shall be born as of old, shall be sages again;
      These of their hands shall be hardy, shall live, and shall die, and
   shall hear
   Thanks of the people, and songs of the minstrels that praise them
      And their glory shall dwell in the land where they dwelt, while
   year calls unto year!


                          (_Æsch._, _Fr._, 156.)

   OF all Gods Death alone
      Disdaineth sacrifice:
   No man hath found or shown
      The gift that Death would prize.
      In vain are songs or sighs,
   Pæan, or praise, or moan,
      Alone beneath the skies
   Hath Death no altar-stone!

   There is no head so dear
      That men would grudge to Death;
   Let Death but ask, we give
   All gifts that we may live;
   But though Death dwells so near,
      We know not what he saith.


                (_Soph._, _Fr._, 235; _Æsch._, _Fr._, 56.)

   ON these Nysæan shores divine
      The clusters ripen in a day.
      At dawn the blossom shreds away;
   The berried grapes are green and fine
   And full by noon; in day’s decline
      They’re purple with a bloom of grey,
      And e’er the twilight plucked are they,
   And crushed, by nightfall, into wine.

   But through the night with torch in hand
      Down the dusk hills the Mænads fare;
      The bull-voiced mummers roar and blare,
   The muffled timbrels swell and sound,
      And drown the clamour of the band
   Like thunder moaning underground.


                          (_Œd. Col._, 667–705.)


   HERE be the fairest homes the land can show,
   The silvery-cliffed Colonus; always here
   The nightingale doth haunt and singeth clear,
   For well the deep green gardens doth she know.
   Groves of the God, where winds may never blow,
      Nor men may tread, nor noontide sun may peer
      Among the myriad-berried ivy dear,
   Where Dionysus wanders to and fro.

   For here he loves to dwell, and here resort
   These Nymphs that are his nurses and his court,
   And golden eyed beneath the dewy boughs
      The crocus burns, and the narcissus fair
      Clusters his blooms to crown thy clustered hair,
   Demeter, and to wreathe the Maiden’s brows!


   YEA, here the dew of Heaven upon the grain
      Fails never, nor the ceaseless water-spring,
      Near neighbour of Cephisus wandering,
   That day by day revisiteth the plain.
   Nor do the Goddesses the grove disdain,
      But chiefly here the Muses quire and sing,
      And here they love to weave their dancing ring,
   With Aphrodite of the golden rein.

   And here there springs a plant that knoweth not
      The Asian mead, nor that great Dorian isle,
   Unsown, untilled, within our garden plot
      It dwells, the grey-leaved olive; ne’er shall guile
   Nor force of foemen root it from the spot:
      Zeus and Athene guarding it the while!


                         (_Œd. Col._, 1655–1666.)

   HOW Œdipous departed, who may tell
      Save Theseus only? for there neither came
      The burning bolt of thunder, and the flame
   To blast him into nothing, nor the swell
   Of sea-tide spurred by tempest on him fell.
      But some diviner herald none may name
      Called him, or inmost Earth’s abyss became
   The painless place where such a soul might dwell.

   Howe’er it chanced, untouched of malady,
      Unharmed by fear, unfollowed by lament,
   With comfort on the twilight way he went,
      Passing, if ever man did, wondrously;
   From this world’s death to life divinely rent,
      Unschooled in Time’s last lesson, how we die.


                          (_Soph._, _Fr._, 587.)

(Sidero, the stepmother of Tyro, daughter of Salmoneus, cruelly entreated
her in all things, and chiefly in this, that she let sheer her beautiful

   AT fierce Sidero’s word the thralls drew near,
      And shore the locks of Tyro,—like ripe corn
      They fell in golden harvest,—but forlorn
   The maiden shuddered in her pain and fear,
      Like some wild mare that cruel grooms in scorn
   Hunt in the meadows, and her mane they sheer,
   And drive her where, within the waters clear,
      She spies her shadow, and her shame doth mourn.

   Ah! hard were he and pitiless of heart
      Who marking that wild thing made weak and tame,
         Broken, and grieving for her glory gone,
   Could mock her grief; but scornfully apart
      Sidero stood, and watched a wind that came
   And tossed the curls like fire that flew and shone!


                      (_Hippol._, _Eurip._, 73–87.)

   FOR thee soft crowns in thine untrampled mead
      I wove, my lady, and to thee I bear;
   Thither no shepherd drives his flocks to feed,
      Nor scythe of steel has ever laboured there;
      Nay, through the spring among the blossoms fair
   The brown bee comes and goes, and with good heed
   Thy maiden, Reverence, sweet streams doth lead
      About the grassy close that is her care!

   Souls only that are gracious and serene
      By gift of God, in human lore unread,
   May pluck these holy blooms and grasses green
      That now I wreathe for thine immortal head,
   I that may walk with thee, thyself unseen,
      And by thy whispered voice am comforted.


                     (_Hippol._, _Eurip._, 252–266.)

   LONG life hath taught me many things, and shown
      That lukewarm loves for men who die are best,
      Weak wine of liking let them mix alone,
   Not Love, that stings the soul within the breast;
   Happy, who wears his love-bonds lightliest,
      Now cherished, now away at random thrown!
      Grievous it is for other’s grief to moan,
   Hard that my soul for thine should lose her rest!

   Wise ruling this of life: but yet again
      Perchance too rigid diet is not well;
   He lives not best who dreads the coming pain
      And shunneth each delight desirable:
   _Flee thou extremes_, this word alone is plain,
      Of all that God hath given to Man to spell!


                      (_Theocritus_, _Idyll_, iii.)

   FAIR Amaryllis, wilt thou never peep
      From forth the cave, and call me, and be mine?
   Lo, apples ten I bear thee from the steep,
      These didst thou long for, and all these are thine.
   Ah, would I were a honey-bee to sweep
      Through ivy, and the bracken, and woodbine;
   To watch thee waken, Love, and watch thee sleep,
      Within thy grot below the shadowy pine.
   Now know I Love, a cruel god is he,
      The wild beast bare him in the wild wood drear;
   And truly to the bone he burneth me.
      But, black-browed Amaryllis, ne’er a tear,
   Nor sigh, nor blush, nor aught have I from thee;
      Nay, nor a kiss, a little gift and dear.


                                 A.D. 160

    Καὶ ἔθυσε τὸ βρέφος, καὶ ἔσπεισεν ἐπὶ τοῦ βωμοῦ τὸ ‘αῖμχ—έπὶ τούτου
    βωμοῦ τῷ Δὺ θύουσιν ἐν ἀποῤῥήτῳ.—_Paus._ viii. 38

   NONE elder city doth the Sun behold
      Than ancient Lycosura; ’twas begun
      Ere Zeus the meat of mortals learned to shun,
   And here hath he a grove whose haunted fold
   The driven deer seek and huntsmen dread: ’tis told
      That whoso fares within that forest dun
      Thenceforth shall cast no shadow in the Sun,
   Ay, and within the year his life is cold!

   Hard by dwelt he {130} who, while the Gods deigned eat
   At good men’s tables, gave them dreadful meat,
      A child he slew:—his mountain altar green
   Here still hath Zeus, with rites untold of me,
   Piteous, but as they are let these things be,
      And as from the beginning they have been!


                      (_Apuleius_, _Metamorph. XI_.)

   THOU that art sandalled on immortal feet
      With leaves of palm, the prize of Victory;
   Thou that art crowned with snakes and blossoms sweet,
      Queen of the silver dews and shadowy sky,
      I pray thee by all names men name thee by!
   Demeter, come, and leave the yellow wheat!
      Or Aphrodite, let thy lovers sigh!
   Or Dian, from thine Asian temple fleet!

   Or, yet more dread, divine Persephone
      From worlds of wailing spectres, ah, draw near;
   Approach, Selene, from thy subject sea;
      Come, Artemis, and this night spare the deer:
   By all thy names and rites I summon thee;
      By all thy rites and names, Our Lady, hear!


   SO Lucius prayed, and sudden, from afar,
      Floated the locks of Isis, shone the bright
   Crown that is tressed with berry, snake, and star;
      She came in deep blue raiment of the night,
   Above her robes that now were snowy white,
   Now golden as the moons of harvest are,
   Now red, now flecked with many a cloudy bay,
      Now stained with all the lustre of the light.

   Then he who saw her knew her, and he knew
      The awful symbols borne in either hand;
   The golden urn that laves Demeter’s dew,
      The handles wreathed with asps, the mystic wand;
   The shaken seistron’s music, tinkling through
      The temples of that old Osirian land.


   _MY heart an old Spinet with strings_
      _To laughter chiefly turned_, _but some_
      _That Fate has practised hard on_, _dumb_,
   _They answer not whoever sings_.
   _The ghosts of half-forgotten things_
      _Will touch the keys with fingers numb_,
      _The little mocking spirits come_
   _And thrill it with their fairy wings_.

   _A jingling harmony it makes_
      _My heart_, _my lyre_, _my old Spinet_,
   _And now a memory it wakes_,
      _And now the music means_ “_forget_,”
   _And little heed the player takes_
      _Howe’er the thoughtful critic fret_.


Page 3.  _The Fortunate Islands_.  This piece is a rhymed loose version
of a passage in the _Vera Historia_ of Lucian.  The humorist was unable
to resist the temptation to introduce passages of mockery, which are here
omitted.  Part of his description of the Isles of the Blest has a close
and singular resemblance to the New Jerusalem of the Apocalypse.  The
clear River of Life and the prodigality of gold and of precious stones
may especially be noticed.

_Whoso doth taste the Dead Men’s bread_, &.c.  This belief that the
living may visit, on occasion, the dwellings of the dead, but can never
return to earth if they taste the food of the departed, is expressed in
myths of worldwide distribution.  Because she ate the pomegranate seed,
Persephone became subject to the spell of Hades.  In Apuleius, Psyche,
when she visits the place of souls, is advised to abstain from food.
Kohl found the myth among the Ojibbeways, Mr. Codrington among the
Solomon Islanders; it occurs in Samoa, in the Finnish Kalewala (where
Wainamoinen, in Pohjola, refrains from touching meat or drink), and the
belief has left its mark on the mediæval ballad of Thomas of Ercildoune.
When he is in Fairy Land, the Fairy Queen supplies him with the bread and
wine of earth, and will not suffer him to touch the fruits which grow “in
this countrie.”  See also “Wandering Willie” in Redgauntlet.

Page 20.  _As now the hutted Eskimo_.  The Eskimo and the miserable
Fuegians are almost the only Socialists who practise what European
Anarchists preach.  The Fuegians go so far as to tear up any piece of
cloth which one of the tribe may receive, so that each member may have a
rag.  The Eskimo are scarcely such consistent walkers, and canoes show a
tendency to accumulate in the hands of proprietors.  Formerly no Eskimo
was allowed to possess more than one canoe.  Such was the wild justice of
the Polar philosophers.

Page 36.  _The latest minstrel_.  “The sound of all others dearest to his
ear, the gentle ripple of Tweed over its pebbles, was distinctly audible
as we knelt around the bed and his eldest son kissed and closed his
eyes.”—Lockhart’s Life of Scott, vii., 394.

Page 45.  _Ronsard’s Grave_.  This version ventures to condense the
original which, like most of the works of the Pleiad, is unnecessarily

Page 46.  _The snow_, _and wind_, _and hail_.  Ronsard’s rendering of the
famous passage in Odyssey, vi., about the dwellings of the Olympians.
The vision of a Paradise of learned lovers and poets constantly recurs in
the poetry of Joachim du Bellay, and of Ronsard.

Page 50.  _Romance_.  Suggested by a passage in La Faustin, by M. E. de
Goncourt, a curious moment of poetry in a repulsive piece of

Page 55.  _M. Boulmier_, author of _Les Villanelles_, died shortly after
this villanelle was written; he had not published a larger collection on
which he had been at work.

Page 61.  _Edmund Gorliot_.  The bibliophile will not easily procure
Gorliot’s book, which is not in the catalogues.  Throughout _The Last
Maying_ there is reference to the _Pervigilium Veneris_.

Page 105.  _Bird-Gods_.  Apparently Aristophanes preserved, in a
burlesque form, the remnants of a genuine myth.  Almost all savage
religions have their bird-gods, and it is probable that Aristophanes did
not invent, but only used a surviving myth of which there are scarcely
any other traces in Greek literature.

Page 134.  _Spinet_.  The accent is on the last foot, even when the word
is written _spinnet_.  Compare the remarkable Liberty which Pamela took
with the 137th Psalm.

   _My Joys and Hopes all overthrown_,
   _My Heartstrings almost broke_,
   _Unfit my Mind for Melody_,
   _Much more to bear a Joke_.
   _But yet_, _if from my Innocence_
   _I_, _even in Thought_, _should slide_,
   _Then_, _let my fingers quite forget_
   _The sweet Spinnet to guide_!

                                  _Pamela_, _or Virtue Rewarded_, vol. i.,
                                                            p. 184., 1785.


{78}  N.B.  There is only one veracious statement in this ballade, which
must not be accepted as autobiographical.

{80}  These lines do _not_ apply to Miss Annie P. (or Daisy) Miller, and
her delightful sisters, _Gades adituræ mecum_, in the pocket edition of
Mr. James’s novels, if ever I go to Gades.

{105}  Tonatiu, the Thunder Bird; well known to the Dacotahs and Zulus.

{106a}  The Hawk, in the myth of the Galinameros of Central California,
lit up the Sun.

{106b}  Pundjel, the Eagle Hawk, is the demiurge and “culture-hero” of
several Australian tribes.

{106c}  The Creation of Man is thus described by the Australians.

{107a}  In Andaman, Thlinkeet, Melanesian, and other myths, a Bird is the
Prometheus Purphoros; in Normandy this part is played by the Wren.

{107b}  Yehl: the Raven God of the Thlinkeets.

{108a}  Indra stole Soma as a Hawk and as a Quail.  For Odin’s feat as a
Bird, see _Bragi’s Telling_ in the Younger Edda.

{108b}  Pundjel, the Eagle Hawk, gave Australians their marriage laws.

{108c}  _Lubra_, a woman; _kobong_, “totem;” or, to please Mr. Max
Müller, “otem.”

{108d}  The Crow was the Hawk’s rival.

{130}  Lycaon, the first werewolf.

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