Fly Leaves eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 55 pages of information about Fly Leaves.

I had thought to lead up conversation
   To the subject—­it’s easily done —
Then let off, as an airy creation
   Of the moment, that masterly pun. 
Let it off, with a flash like a rocket’s;
   In the midst of a dazzled conclave,
Where I sat, with my hands in my pockets,
      The only one grave.

I had fancied young Titterton’s chuckles,
   And old Bottleby’s hearty guffaws
As he drove at my ribs with his knuckles,
   His mode of expressing applause: 
While Jean Bottleby—­queenly Miss Janet —
   Drew her handkerchief hastily out,
In fits at my slyness—­what can it
      Have all been about?

I know ’twas the happiest, quaintest
   Combination of pathos and fun: 
But I’ve got no idea—­the faintest —
   Of what was the actual pun. 
I think it was somehow connected
   With something I’d recently read —
Or heard—­or perhaps recollected
      On going to bed.

What had I been reading?  The Standard: 
   “Double Bigamy;” “Speech of the Mayor.” 
And later—­eh? yes!  I meandered
   Through some chapters of Vanity Fair. 
How it fuses the grave with the festive! 
   Yet e’en there, there is nothing so fine —
So playfully, subtly suggestive —
      As that joke of mine.

Did it hinge upon “parting asunder?”
   No, I don’t part my hair with my brush. 
Was the point of it “hair?” Now I wonder! 
   Stop a bit—­I shall think of it—­hush! 
There’s Hare, a wild animal—­Stuff! 
   It was something a deal more recondite: 
Of that I am certain enough;
      And of nothing beyond it.

Hair—­locks!  There are probably many
   Good things to be said about those. 
Give me time—­that’s the best guess of any —
   “Lock” has several meanings, one knows. 
Iron locks—­iron-gray locks—­a “deadlock” —
   That would set up an everyday wit: 
Then of course there’s the obvious “wedlock;”
      But that wasn’t it.

No! mine was a joke for the ages;
   Full of intricate meaning and pith;
A feast for your scholars and sages —
   How it would have rejoiced Sidney Smith! 
’Tis such thoughts that ennoble a mortal;
   And, singing him out from the herd,
Fling wide immortality’s portal —
      But what was the word?

Ah me! ’tis a bootless endeavour. 
   As the flight of a bird of the air
Is the flight of a joke—­you will never
   See the same one again, you may swear. 
’Twas my firstborn, and O how I prized it! 
   My darling, my treasure, my own! 
This brain and none other devised it —
      And now it has flown.


   When the young Augustus Edward
   Has reluctantly gone bedward
(He’s the urchin I am privileged to teach),
   From my left-hand waistcoat pocket
   I extract a batter’d locket
And I commune with it, walking on the beach.

Project Gutenberg
Fly Leaves from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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