When I was a boy there was a friend of mine,
We thought ourselves warriors and grown folk swine,
Stupid old animals who never understood
And never had an impulse, and said "You must be good!"
We stank like stoats and fled like foxes,
We put cigarettes in the pillar-boxes,
Lighted cigarettes and letters all aflame--
O the surprise when the postman came!
We stole eggs and apples and made fine hay
In people's houses when people were away,
We broke street lamps and away we ran;
Then I was a boy but now I am a man.
Now I am a man and don't have any fun,
I hardly ever shout and never never run,
And I don't care if he's dead, that friend of mine,
For then I was a boy and now I am a swine.
Puck and the woodland elves shall weep with me
For that lost joke I made in Ledborough Lane,
The joke that Mrs. Baines declined to see
Although I made it very loud and plain.
I made the joke again and yet again,
I analysed it, parsed it and explained:
I did my very best to entertain,
But Mrs. Baines would not be entertained.
When forests walked and fishes flew
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood,
Then, surely, I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening bray
And ears like errant wings--
The devil's walking parody
Of all four-footed things:
The battered outlaw of the earth
Of ancient crooked will;
Scourge, beat, deride me--I am dumb--
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour--
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout around my head
And palms about my feet.
Cole, that unwearied prince of Colchester,
Growing more gay with age and with long days
Deeper in laughter and desire of life
As that Virginian climber on our walls
Flames scarlet with the fading of the year;
Called for his wassail and that other weed
Virginian also, from the western woods
Where English Raleigh checked the boast of Spain,
And lighting joy with joy, and piling up
Pleasure as crown for pleasure, bade me bring
Those three, the minstrels whose emblazoned coats
Shone with the oyster-shells of Colchester;
And these three played, and playing grew more fain
Of mirth and music; till the heathen came
And the King slept beside the northern sea.
Of an old King in a story
From the grey sea-folk I have heard
Whose heart was no more broken
Than the wings of a bird.
As soon as the moon was silver
And the thin stars began,
He took his pipe and his tankard,
Like an old peasant man.
And three tall shadows were with him
And came at his command;
And played before him for ever
The fiddles of fairyland.
And he died in the young summer
Of the world's desire;
Before our hearts were broken
Like sticks in a fire.
Me conscious of you, old camarado,
Needing no telescope, lorgnette, field-glass, opera-glass, myopic pince-nez,
Me piercing two thousand years with eye naked and not ashamed;
The crown cannot hide you from me,
Musty old feudal-heraldic trappings cannot hide you from me,
I perceive that you drink.
(I am drinking with you. I am as drunk as you are.)
I see you are inhaling tobacco, puffing, smoking, spitting
(I do not object to your spitting),
You prophetic of American largeness,
You anticipating the broad masculine manners of these States;
I see in you also there are movements, tremors, tears, desire for the melodious,
I salute your three violinists, endlessly making vibrations,
Rigid, relentless, capable of going on for ever;
They play my accompaniment; but I shall take no notice of any accompaniment;
I myself am a complete orchestra.
|Kipling | Millay | Frost | Chesterton | Nash | Various| Rohan | Nathan|
|Bashô | Hopkins | Chinese | Burns | Slavic | Igor | Sappho | Wolfe|
|Ridges | Walden | Pine | Black Oak | Little Pine | Chestnut | Haw|
|Greenbelt | Emory Valley | Pellissippi | Key Springs | Snapping Turtle Pond|