Some desperate attempts were made To start a conversation; "Madam," the sportive Brown essayed, "Which kind of recreation, Hunting or fishing, have you made Your special occupation?"

Her lips curved downwards instantly, As if of india-rubber. "Hounds IN FULL CRY I like," said she: (Oh how I longed to snub her!) "Of fish, a whale's the one for me, IT IS SO FULL OF BLUBBER!"

The night's performance was "King John." "It's dull," she wept, "and so-so!" Awhile I let her tears flow on, She said they soothed her woe so! At length the curtain rose upon 'Bombastes Furioso.'

In vain we roared; in vain we tried To rouse her into laughter: Her pensive glances wandered wide From orchestra to rafter - "TIER UPON TIER!" she said, and sighed; And silence followed after.

A VALENTINE

[Sent to a friend who had complained that I was glad enough to see him when he came, but didn't seem to miss him if he stayed away.]

And cannot pleasures, while they last, Be actual unless, when past, They leave us shuddering and aghast, With anguish smarting? And cannot friends be firm and fast, And yet bear parting?

And must I then, at Friendship's call, Calmly resign the little all (Trifling, I grant, it is and small) I have of gladness, And lend my being to the thrall Of gloom and sadness?

And think you that I should be dumb, And full dolorum omnium, Excepting when YOU choose to come And share my dinner? At other times be sour and glum And daily thinner?

Must he then only live to weep, Who'd prove his friendship true and deep By day a lonely shadow creep, At night-time languish, Oft raising in his broken sleep The moan of anguish?

The lover, if for certain days His fair one be denied his gaze, Sinks not in grief and wild amaze, But, wiser wooer, He spends the time in writing lays, And posts them to her.

And if the verse flow free and fast, Till even the poet is aghast, A touching Valentine at last The post shall carry, When thirteen days are gone and past Of February.

Farewell, dear friend, and when we meet, In desert waste or crowded street, Perhaps before this week shall fleet, Perhaps to-morrow. I trust to find YOUR heart the seat Of wasting sorrow.

THE THREE VOICES

The First Voice

He trilled a carol fresh and free, He laughed aloud for very glee: There came a breeze from off the sea:

It passed athwart the glooming flat - It fanned his forehead as he sat - It lightly bore away his hat,

All to the feet of one who stood Like maid enchanted in a wood, Frowning as darkly as she could.

With huge umbrella, lank and brown, Unerringly she pinned it down, Right through the centre of the crown.

Then, with an aspect cold and grim, Regardless of its battered rim, She took it up and gave it him.

A while like one in dreams he stood, Then faltered forth his gratitude In words just short of being rude:

For it had lost its shape and shine, And it had cost him four-and-nine, And he was going out to dine.

"To dine!" she sneered in acid tone. "To bend thy being to a bone Clothed in a radiance not its own!"

The tear-drop trickled to his chin: There was a meaning in her grin That made him feel on fire within.

"Term it not 'radiance,'" said he: "'Tis solid nutriment to me. Dinner is Dinner: Tea is Tea."

And she "Yea so? Yet wherefore cease? Let thy scant knowledge find increase. Say 'Men are Men, and Geese are Geese.'"

He moaned: he knew not what to say. The thought "That I could get away!" Strove with the thought "But I must stay.

"To dine!" she shrieked in dragon-wrath. "To swallow wines all foam and froth! To simper at a table-cloth!

"Say, can thy noble spirit stoop To join the gormandising troup Who find a solace in the soup?

"Canst thou desire or pie or puff? Thy well-bred manners were enough, Without such gross material stuff."

"Yet well-bred men," he faintly said, "Are not willing to be fed: Nor are they well without the bread."

Her visage scorched him ere she spoke: "There are," she said, "a kind of folk Who have no horror of a joke.

Phantasmagoria and Other Poems Page 10

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