gentlemen, for your fair criticisms,
Which, to be frank, I think
were far too kind;
I also thank you for your witticisms,
Which showed your kindness
did not ‘go it blind. ’
Tho’ some remarks proved there were little
your ranks, I think that here you’ll find
I’ve tried to profit by most things you taught
The only profit the edition brought me.
I will say this, it pleased me much to see
The rancour that in other
did not contaminate the free
And open air of literature,
My generous foes who did for once agree
To see some merit, and to
say so too,
In what I did, I thank you from my heart,
if we’d all at all times play that part!
I take my inspiration from a muse,
Whose dainty feet ne’er
trod the hill Parnassus,
Yet if you saw her, you would not refuse
To own her sway, for sweeter
soft smile serene; nor could you choose,
Unless indeed quite crazy,
or as crass as
A fool, but own that of the Nine as any
She’s as fair, or were there twice as many.
Therefore perhaps, my flight though with a goddess,
not have soar’d so high as ’twould have
If my inspirer didn’t wear a bodice,
Likewise a bustle when her
But then a glance—you would not think it odd
That for no undraped maid
that ever won
smile I’d change. Inured to rustlin’
In our North-West—I like a muse in muslin,
Or silk, or crape, or calico; I ask
But this that it be cut
and stitched with skill,
Nor outlines mar in which the eye would bask,
beauty heart and mind and soul can fill
With joy. It should not be too hard a task
To drape sweet nature’s
handiwork, and still
Preserve the entrancing grace of God’s chef
As did the Greeks of old: go see the Louvre.
Think you we’d pause before each statue there,
O’er which the flowing
marble’s drapery falls,
If this concealed the lines of beauty rare,
The stately loveliness which
Perfection’s essence, now beyond compare ?
who obey the monthly fashion’s calls,
Here might ye learn how grace may be disgraced
By camel humps and corsets tightly laced.
But fashion’s ugliness can uglier be
If skilless artists make
the lady’s dress,
fair reader, look to it and see
That yours shall deftly
every point express, [Page 8]
Save what the moment’s hideous fantasy
Insists on hiding. But e’en
then I guess
Good taste deformity can minimize,
sun-like beauty breaks thro’ all disguise.
Yet never think you need not reck the style:
’Tis true no milliner
can dim your eye,
Or sour the sweetness of your honied smile,
Or steal its peril from
your bosom’s sigh,
o’er a solitary wile;
But as saltpetre makes the
dwarf as high
As Anak’s sons, so fashion’s ceaseless
Tend to equality among the girls.
This muse of mine in no way analytical,
mind destructive, leans to synthesis,
Therefore it is not that I would be critical,
But as in postscript or
We mention something private or political,
We’d like to note
without much emphasis,
one or two remarks I would remark,
If but to show I wrote not in the dark.
One critic said ’twas wrong to make a pause
In the swift goddess’s
Because ‘twas contrary to nature’s laws,
she’d be surely caught up by the sun.
With due respect he hardly weigh’d the cause,
Nor thought of what for
Joshua he’d done.
If once to please a man a long pause made he,
He’d make a short one just to please a lady.
Another pointed out that Eos could not sleep,
Eternal wakefulness her
Another said ’twas wrong to make her weep;
Another that he knew she
could not read;
Then how he ask’d in politics be deep,
pose as if the world she meant to lead
In wiser ways? To all this I reply:
The thing’s a dream—I dreamt I saw her
That fast as dove with head beneath her wing
I saw her sleep, though
her all glorious head
not conceal’d, but radiant shone, a thing
For Millais at his best
to paint. Of red
A touch to her dishevelled gold he’d bring,
Nor spoil the beauty poor
But tho’ of carroty tones he is so fond,
rather see him paint her perfect blonde.
Then if no leisure hour the goddess claimed
When had she time to woo?
But yet we know
There’s hardly one in all the skies so famed
For captivating fairest
stricture about reading too lies maimed,
For heavenly minds with
In days when all we mortals know our letters,
Pray can we limit our immortal betters?
Why she talk’d politics, I cannot say.
in heaven they take the Daily News,
And Telegraph, and Times, and
To heart the lessons which
these sheets infuse. [Page 10]
I’m sure they take the Sun so they
Know all the babble of the
mart and mews,
Truth and Bell’s Life and
thus to sport
Add all the gossip of our brilliant court.
The Pall Mall certes finds an entrance
And boys with wings distribute
The Saturday, Spectator and the
World where Edmund cuts his weekly capers,
All these and more to make the seraphs stare,
With fashion prints from
milliners and drapers,
Are taken in and conn’d by heavenly eyes,
And mortal’s deeds immortals much surprise.
Most certainly they’ve read I cannot say ‘poor
All the descriptions of
Of royal dinners and of royal revels,
Of our fine fleet upon our
Of cutlasses and bayonets in shrivels;
hope they’ll never see what ne’er should
Our fine fleet batter’d like a piece of crockery,
And all our glory ‘monumental mockery.’
How brought she then no horse-race on the tapis?
Why told she not of dinners
and of balls?
not yet cold but sweet and sappy?
Of paltry rivalries in royal
Of princes drest in suits of warlike nappy,
Who’d be quite lost
to meet their duties’ calls?
Her views on politics might be exprest
she thought I’d like the subject best. [Page
The dream’s dramatic, tho’ by no strict
My muse who wears a smock,
evolves her story;
“Out west,” you know we’re rebels
to old schools,
And in our independence
this I hope you’ll here not dub us fools,
And as on strict condition
that no more he
’ll err, at times, a culprit gets off free,
Against harsh judgment I might make a plea.
But no! if I’ve presumed too fond and far,
on the lash and make me rue the deed;
In other walks I’ve heard and felt the jar
Of bitter conflict, but
I did not bleed
Quite unavenged, nor weakly doubt my star.
But here, in unaccustomed
fields, a reed
bow to whatsoever comes. The blow
Will only tell me what I fully know,
That art requires not only high vocation,
But all life’s vows
and hours laid on her shrine,
Too deep I’ve drunk th’unspeakable elation
Shakespeare’s song and ‘Marlowe’s
And Milton’s epic, Dante (in translation),
Old Homer, Horace, Virgil,
and in fine
I’ve march’d with all the singers of
Their banners to eternity unfurled
Above me all unworthy; but I felt
The rhythmic clangour of
their sonorous songs
All beauty, greatness breathing, and I knelt
In heart and worshipp’d,
learning there all wrongs [Page 12]
To hate and war on, tho’ hot hell should pelt,
low corruption sound her myriad gongs,
To call her minions ’gainst
For right and light, in free or fetter’d lands.
Therefore I know this little song of mine
For what it is; my highest
hope that here
struck a warning note, pointed a line
Of action that may ward
off what I fear
For England, Ireland, Empire. Those should shine
Twin island stars of powers
and peace; too near
For aught but love. Now love is for the free
fortunes and strict equity.
I also wished—too daring or too vain!
To strike from greater anvils
still a spark,
To guide some groper o’er the trailless plain,
And show him where to wend
tho’ all be dark.
honest hearts a faith that’s not inane
But full of comfort, calls
men to an ark,
Will safely ride the troubled waves of life,
And give them peace amid its stormy strife,
Tho’ the loud thunder bellows o’er the
all our hopes and all we love,
And wailing winds, like spirits that deride
Joy, trust, and truth, howl
round and from above,
Whence light should shower, the wild wrack spreads
yet comes this dove
branch held in its beak, whose green leaves tell
God’s forces rule and all for all is well.
And doing this, this far-west flower of verse,
May stir a heart or two
with beauty seen
By me but never half expressed, the curse
long immersion in the world’s din
Being on me, and my cruel fate far worse
Than those who strive but
fail the prize to win,
For they sketch o’er the course and all but
The goal, while I—my Pegasus a crutch!
A foolish boy, alas! long summers since
I cast my horoscope for
And thought by strength the world I should convince,
And that with time I’d
feel my budding wings.
I said: ‘I’ll take my cue from every
song; from every harp its sweetest strings;’
And fancy walked thro’ all the muse’s
Thro’ all song’s avenues and haunted
And then I wrote presumptuous; ‘I will climb
And write in starry characters
the great blaze of Byron’s song sublime
Makes the lame bard the
cynosure of fame;’
And all I asked from heaven was health and time
Doubt’s craven fears
and envy’s sneers to shame,
When up stalked Poverty and wrought me ill,
fiery passions fought the fiery will.
Here’s but an echo of a song that wanes,
Thrown from far studies
and forgotten years,
Like sounds of anthems in deserted fanes,
Hymns’ phantoms in
the temple which uprears [Page 14]
crumbling roof and arches to the rains
And winds, hallowed by bygone
prayers and tears;
Hark to those strains! aloft and down the aisles
Reverberate! Is’t only Fancy’s wiles?
Top thee fair spirit! of whom half in jest
sung above, I dedicate to thee
These songs; to thee, the beautiful, the best!
My never-absent-one where’er
My calm mid scenes where howling winds infest,
And where peace blooms the
fairest flower for me,
far—yet near—I send across the sea
These songs to thee, my beautiful, to thee!
LONDON, August, 1887.