And, sickened with excess of dread, Prone to the dust he bent his head, And lay like one three-quarters dead

The whisper left him--like a breeze Lost in the depths of leafy trees - Left him by no means at his ease.

Once more he weltered in despair, With hands, through denser-matted hair, More tightly clenched than then they were.

When, bathed in Dawn of living red, Majestic frowned the mountain head, "Tell me my fault," was all he said.

When, at high Noon, the blazing sky Scorched in his head each haggard eye, Then keenest rose his weary cry.

And when at Eve the unpitying sun Smiled grimly on the solemn fun, "Alack," he sighed, "what HAVE I done?"

But saddest, darkest was the sight, When the cold grasp of leaden Night Dashed him to earth, and held him tight.

Tortured, unaided, and alone, Thunders were silence to his groan, Bagpipes sweet music to its tone:

"What? Ever thus, in dismal round, Shall Pain and Mystery profound Pursue me like a sleepless hound,

"With crimson-dashed and eager jaws, Me, still in ignorance of the cause, Unknowing what I broke of laws?"

The whisper to his ear did seem Like echoed flow of silent stream, Or shadow of forgotten dream,

The whisper trembling in the wind: "Her fate with thine was intertwined," So spake it in his inner mind:

"Each orbed on each a baleful star: Each proved the other's blight and bar: Each unto each were best, most far:

"Yea, each to each was worse than foe: Thou, a scared dullard, gibbering low, AND SHE, AN AVALANCHE OF WOE!"

TEMA CON VARIAZIONI

[Why is it that Poetry has never yet been subjected to that process of Dilution which has proved so advantageous to her sister-art Music? The Diluter gives us first a few notes of some well-known Air, then a dozen bars of his own, then a few more notes of the Air, and so on alternately: thus saving the listener, if not from all risk of recognising the melody at all, at least from the too- exciting transports which it might produce in a more concentrated form. The process is termed "setting" by Composers, and any one, that has ever experienced the emotion of being unexpectedly set down in a heap of mortar, will recognise the truthfulness of this happy phrase.

For truly, just as the genuine Epicure lingers lovingly over a morsel of supreme Venison--whose every fibre seems to murmur "Excelsior!"--yet swallows, ere returning to the toothsome dainty, great mouthfuls of oatmeal-porridge and winkles: and just as the perfect Connoisseur in Claret permits himself but one delicate sip, and then tosses off a pint or more of boarding-school beer: so also -

I never loved a dear Gazelle - NOR ANYTHING THAT COST ME MUCH: HIGH PRICES PROFIT THOSE WHO SELL, BUT WHY SHOULD I BE FOND OF SUCH?

To glad me with his soft black eye MY SON COMES TROTTING HOME FROM SCHOOL; HE'S HAD A FIGHT BUT CAN'T TELL WHY - HE ALWAYS WAS A LITTLE FOOL!

But, when he came to know me well, HE KICKED ME OUT, HER TESTY SIRE: AND WHEN I STAINED MY HAIR, THAT BELLE MIGHT NOTE THE CHANGE, AND THUS ADMIRE

And love me, it was sure to dye A MUDDY GREEN OR STARING BLUE: WHILST ONE MIGHT TRACE, WITH HALF AN EYE, THE STILL TRIUMPHANT CARROT THROUGH.

A GAME OF FIVES

Five little girls, of Five, Four, Three, Two, One: Rolling on the hearthrug, full of tricks and fun.

Five rosy girls, in years from Ten to Six: Sitting down to lessons--no more time for tricks.

Five growing girls, from Fifteen to Eleven: Music, Drawing, Languages, and food enough for seven!

Five winsome girls, from Twenty to Sixteen: Each young man that calls, I say "Now tell me which you MEAN!"

Five dashing girls, the youngest Twenty-one: But, if nobody proposes, what is there to be done?

Five showy girls--but Thirty is an age When girls may be ENGAGING, but they somehow don't ENGAGE.

Five dressy girls, of Thirty-one or more: So gracious to the shy young men they snubbed so much before!

* * * *

Five passe girls--Their age? Well, never mind! We jog along together, like the rest of human kind: But the quondam "careless bachelor" begins to think he knows The answer to that ancient problem "how the money goes"!

POETA FIT, NON NASCITUR

"How shall I be a poet? How shall I write in rhyme? You told me once 'the very wish Partook of the sublime.' Then tell me how! Don't put me off With your 'another time'!"

The old man smiled to see him, To hear his sudden sally; He liked the lad to speak his mind Enthusiastically; And thought "There's no hum-drum in him, Nor any shilly-shally."

"And would you be a poet Before you've been to school? Ah, well! I hardly thought you So absolute a fool. First learn to be spasmodic - A very simple rule.

Phantasmagoria and Other Poems Page 13

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