“Its passions will rock
As the storms rock the raven on high;
Bright reason will mock thee
Like the sun from a wintry sky.
“From thy nest every rafter
Will rot, and thine eagle home
Leave thee naked to laughter
When leaves fall and cold winds come.”
ALI BABA, K.C.B.
ALI BABA ALONE
THE LAST DAY
last of many days,
All beautiful and bright as thou,
The loveliest, and the last is dead,
Rise, memory, and write its praise.”
[December 27, 1879.]
How shall I lay this spectre of my own identity? Shall I leave it to melt away gracefully in the light of setting suns? It would never do to put it out like a farthing rushlight after it had haunted the Great Ornamental in an aurora of smiles. Is Ali Baba to cease upon the midnight without pain? or is he to lie down like a tired child and weep out the spark? or should he just flit to Elysium? There, seated on Elysian lawns, browsed by none but Dian’s (no allusion to little Mrs. Lollipop) fawns, amid the noise of fountains wonderous and the parle of voices thunderous, some wag might scribble on his door, “Here lies Ali Baba”—as if glancing at his truthfulness. How is he to pass effectively into the golden silences? How is he to relapse into the still-world of observation? Would four thousand five hundred a month and Simla do it, with nothing to do and allowances, and a seat beside those littered under the swart Dog-Star of India? Or is it to be the mandragora of pension, that he may sleep out the great gap of ennui between this life and something better? How lonely the Government of India would feel! How the world would forget the Government of India! Voices would ask:—
Do ye sit there
still in slumber
In gigantic Alpine rows?
The black poppies out of number
Nodding, dripping from your brows
To the red lees of your wine—
And so kept alive and fine.
Sometimes I think that Ali Baba should be satisfied with the oblivion-mantle of knighthood and relapse into dingy respectability in the Avilion of Brompton or Bath; but since he has taken to wearing stars the accompanying itch for blood and fame has come:—
How doth the greedy
Delight to brag and fight,
And gather medals all the day
And wear them all the night.
The fear of being out-medalled and out-starred stings him:—