It came like some familiar rhyme,
Some copy to my boyhood set;
And that’s perhaps the reason I’m
Would she have own’d how pleased she was,
And told her love with widow’s pride?
I never found out that, because
I never tried.
Be kind to babes and beasts and birds:
Hearts may be hard, though lips are coral;
And angry words are angry words:
And that’s the moral.
Forever; ’tis a single word!
Our rude forefathers deem’d it two:
Can you imagine so absurd
Forever! What abysms of woe
The word reveals, what frenzy, what
Despair! For ever (printed so)
It looks, ah me! how trite and tame!
It fails to sadden or appal
Or solace—it is not the same
O thou to whom it first occurr’d
To solder the disjoin’d, and dower
Thy native language with a word
We bless thee! Whether far or near
Thy dwelling, whether dark or fair
Thy kingly brow, is neither here
But in men’s hearts shall be thy throne,
While the great pulse of England beats:
Thou coiner of a word unknown
And nevermore must printer do
As men did long ago; but run
“For” into “ever,” bidding two
Forever! passion-fraught, it throws
O’er the dim page a gloom, a glamour:
It’s sweet, it’s strange; and I suppose
Forever! ’Tis a single word!
And yet our fathers deem’d it two:
Nor am I confident they err’d;
“Under the trees!” Who but agrees
That there is magic in words such as these?
Promptly one sees shake in the breeze
Stately lime-avenues haunted of bees:
Where, looking far over buttercupp’d leas,
Lads and “fair shes” (that is Byron, and he’s
An authority) lie very much at their ease;
Taking their teas, or their duck and green peas,
Or, if they prefer it, their plain bread and cheese:
Not objecting at all though it’s rather a squeeze
And the glass is, I daresay, at 80 degrees.
Some get up glees, and are mad about Ries
And Sainton, and Tamberlik’s thrilling high Cs;
Or if painters, hold forth upon Hunt and Maclise,
And the tone and the breadth of that landscape of Lee’s;
Or if learned, on nodes and the moon’s apogees,
Or, if serious, on something of AKHB’s,
Or the latest attempt to convert the Chaldees;
Or in short about all things, from earthquakes to fleas.
Some sit in twos or (less frequently) threes,
With their innocent lambswool or book on their knees,
And talk, and enact, any nonsense you please,
As they gaze into eyes that are blue as the seas;