Age, my James, that
from the cheek of
Beauty steals its rosy hue,
Has not left us much to speak of:
But ’tis not for this I rue.
Beauty with its thousand graces,
Hair and tints that will not fade,
You may get from many places
No; it is the evanescence
Of those lovelier tints of Hope—
Bubbles, such as adolescence
Joys to win from melted soap—
Emphasizing the conclusion
That the dreams of Youth remain
Castles that are An delusion
(Castles, that’s to say, in Spain).
Age thinks ‘fit,’
and I say ‘fiat.’
Here I stand for Fortune’s butt,
As for Sunday swains to shy at
Stands the stoic coco-nut.
If you wish it put succinctly,
Gone are all our little games;
But I thought I ’d say distinctly
What I feel about it, James.
In youth I dreamed,
as other youths have dreamt,
Of love, and thrummed an amateur guitar
To verses of my own,—a stout attempt
To hold communion with the Evening Star
I wrote a sonnet, rhymed it, made it scan.
Ah me! how trippingly those last lines ran.—
O happy star! to bend
O’er Helen’s bosom in the tranced west,
To match the hours heave by upon her breast,
And at her parted lip for dreams attend—
If dawn defraud thee, how shall I be deemed,
Who house within that bosom, and am dreamed?
For weeks I thought
these lines remarkable;
For weeks I put on airs and called myself
A bard: till on a day, as it befell,
I took a small green Moxon from the shelf
At random, opened at a casual place,
And found my young illusions face to face
steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair Love’s ripening breast
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest;
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever,—or else swoon to death.’
O gulf not to be crossed
by taking thought!
O heights by toil not to be overcome!
Great Keats, unto your altar straight I brought
My speech, and from the shrine departed dumb.
—And yet sometimes I think you played it hard
Upon a rather hopeful minor bard.
By W—ll—m C—wp—r.