One slender, struggling ray of consolation
Sustains me, very feeble though it be:
There are two who still escape infatuation,
My friend M’Foozle’s one, the other’s me.
As I write the words, M’Foozle enters blushing,
With a brassy and an iron in his hand . . .
This blow, so unexpected and so crushing,
Is more than I am able to withstand.
So now it but remains for me to die, sir.
Stay! There is another course I may pursue—
And perhaps upon the whole it would be wiser—
I will yield to fate and be a golfer too!
FROM JEAN PIERRE CLARIS FLORIAN
I love to see the swallows come
At my window twittering,
Bringing from their southern home
News of the approaching spring.
‘Last year’s nest,’ they softly say,
’Last year’s love again shall see;
Only faithful lovers may
Tell you of the coming glee.’
When the first fell touch of frost
Strips the wood of faded leaves,
Calling all their winged host,
The swallows meet above the eaves
‘Come away, away,’ they cry,
’Winter’s snow is hastening;
True hearts winter comes not nigh,
They are ever in the spring.’
If by some unhappy fate,
Victim of a cruel mind,
One is parted from her mate
And within a cage confined,
Swiftly will the swallow die,
Pining for her lover’s bower,
And her lover watching nigh
Dies beside her in an hour.
After many days
The mist hangs round the College tower,
The ghostly street
Is silent at this midnight hour,
Save for my feet.
With none to see, with none to hear,
Downward I go
To where, beside the rugged pier,
The sea sings low.
It sings a tune well loved and known
In days gone by,
When often here, and not alone,
I watched the sky.
That was a barren time at best,
Its fruits were few;
But fruits and flowers had keener zest
And fresher hue.
Life has not since been wholly vain,
And now I bear
Of wisdom plucked from joy and pain
Some slender share.
But, howsoever rich the store,
I’d lay it down,
To feel upon my back once more
The old red gown.
What the end the gods have destined unto thee and
Ask not: ’tis forbidden knowledge. Be content, Leuconoe.
Let alone the fortune-tellers. How much better to endure
Whatsoever shall betide us—even though we be not sure
Whether Jove grants other winters, whether this our last shall be
That upon the rocks opposing dashes now the Tuscan sea.
Be thou wise, and strain thy wines, and mindful of life’s brevity
Stint thy hopes. The envious moments, even while we speak, have flown;
Trusting nothing to the future, seize the day that is our own.